Rocky Mountain National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Just northwest of Denver lies Rocky Mountain National Park, home to 415 square miles of majestic peaks that soar up to 14,000 feet and more than 350 miles of trails that take you into untouched wilderness.

Rocky Mountain National Park offers opportunities for a once-in-a-lifetime RV getaway. Lose yourself in a breathtaking environment filled with towering mountains, free-roaming elk and mule deer, enchanting meadows with wild moose, 156 glistening lakes, lush forest, and jaw-dropping waterfalls. You can enjoy an excursion any time of year since cold winters offer the perfect weather for cross-country skiers, while warm summers provide a haven for nature lovers of all types.

Rocky Mountain National Park is best known amongst RVers for its awe-inspiring mountains including the Hallett Peak, Deer Mountain, and, the tallest mountain, Longs Peak. This enchanting wilderness is also full of picturesque bodies of water from Sprague Lake and Lily Lake to Calypso Cascades and Alberta Falls. The Rocky Mountain region has a rich history since it was originally settled by Native American tribes and later by gold prospectors and early railroad pioneers in the 1800s. You can get a taste of the park’s heritage with a visit to the early 20th century ranch at Holzwarth Historic Site. Another stop during your RV excursion to this amazing national park should be at one of its three visitor centers, where you can learn all about the area’s natural history.

Visited by over 4.5 million people per year, this spectacular national park is one of Colorado’s best destinations for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Trail Ridge Road is a top-pick for amazing mountainous cycling and scenic driving. If you’re into wildlife watching and photography, there are loads of scenic outlooks to spot moose, elk, or even bears such as Forest Canyon Overlook. There is so much adventure waiting for you during your RV vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park, from fishing and hiking to rock climbing and snowshoeing.

Park Alerts (4)

[Caution] Avalanches: Be Alert [+ Info]

Avalanches can be easily triggered by backcountry travelers. The park does not do any avalanche control. Never assume trails are free of avalanche hazard. Check current avalanche conditions before your visit by clicking "more."

[Information] Old Fall River Road: Closed to motorized travel, open to bicyclists and pedestrians [+ Info]

Old Fall River Road is closed to motorized travel until early July. It's open to bicyclists and pedestrians (including those with leashed pets).

[Information] Trail Ridge Road: Closed to motorized travel, open to bicyclists and pedestrians [+ Info]

Trail Ridge Road is closed to motorized travel until late May (weather permitting). It's open to bicyclists and pedestrians (including those with leashed pets).

[Caution] Weather Changes Quickly at Rocky [+ Info]

Winter weather, including ice and snow, is possible at any time and can suddenly change road and trail conditions. Always check an updated weather forecast before you arrive.

RV Rentals in Rocky Mountain National Park

Transportation in Rocky Mountain National Park

Driving

Rocky Mountain National Park is located next to the gateway communities of Estes Park and Grand Lake. It’s also close Colorado’s capital of Denver. This means that it’s easy to access the park by car and RV. You’ll want to take precautions when it comes to driving on mountain roads in the park since they may present winding or narrow conditions. While mountain driving in a large vehicle can be challenging, RVs and trailers are permitted on all park roads, except for Old Fall River Road. The iconic Trail Ridge Road, while it is steep, is suitable for RVs and trailers.

Parking

There is parking available at the three visitors centers, trailhead parking lots, and campgrounds if you are staying. Parking for RVs and large vehicles may be limited depending on the parking lot, especially during the peak season. Another option is to park outside of the national park and take shuttles into the park during the summer months. You can park your RV at the Estes Park Visitor Center or at a lot near Town Hall in Estes Park. If you’re finding parking to be overcrowded you can head over to the less crowded west side, since 80 percent of visitors come through the east side entrance.

Public Transport

If you want to get to the park by bus, the closest cities serviced by Greyhound are Denver and Granby. During the summer months you can take free bus shuttle services in Estes Park that will take you into the park. Once you’re in the park, from May to October, there are three shuttle bus routes offered by the Rocky Mountain National Park Shuttle System that will take you to many of the major destinations inside. Biking, hiking, and horseback riding are other popular modes of transportation in the park. You can also hire a private company to give you a guided tour of the park.

Campgrounds and parking in Rocky Mountain National Park

Campsites in Rocky Mountain National Park

Reservations camping

Aspenglen Campground

Camp under the shade of Douglas firs and look out onto open grassy meadows at Aspenglen Campground. Open from May to September, this scenic campground offers 13 tent-only sites and 41 sites that are open to tents and RVs. RVs and trailers up to 30 feet long can be accomodated. While there are there are no hookups available, you can use generators during limited hours. This pet-friendly primitive campground features potable water, food storage lockers, and restrooms. Reservations are open up to 6 months in advance.

Glacier Basin Campround

Open from May to September, Glacier Basin Campground offers 73 tent-only sites and 74 sites that are open to RVs and tents. You’ll be greeted by lush forests filled with Engelmann spruce and Ponderosa pine. While there are no hookups available, you can use generators during certain hours. This pet-friendly campground features a dump station, amphitheater, and restrooms. RVs and trailers up to 35 feet in length are permitted to camp here and reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.

Moraine Park Campground

The Moraine Park Campground is open from May to October with 101 tent-only sites and 146 sites that are open to RVs and tents. Trailers and RVs up to 40 feet in length are permitted. This is one of the most picturesque campgrounds in the park, with jaw-dropping views of mountains and meadows. This beautiful, pet-friendly campground does not have full hookups, but does offer bathrooms, food storage lockers, and a dump station. Reservations are available up to 6 months in advance. Generator use is permitted during certain hours.

First-come first-served

Timber Creek Campground

As the only campground on the west side of the park, Timber Creek Campground offers unique views of the Colorado River and the enchanting surrounding forests and hills. With 98 RV and tent sites available, you will enjoy amenities including restrooms, an amphitheater, food storage lockers, and a dump station. While there are no hookups at this campground, you can use generators during certain hours. This pet-friendly campground can accommodate trailers and RVs up to 30 feet in length.

Alternate camping

Longs Peak Campground

If you want to park your RV off-site and pitch a tent, you can camp at Long Peak Campground. This is a small, tent-only campground with 26 sites available. This First-Come, First-Served campground is surrounded by majestic forest and sits at an elevation of 9,500 feet. If you’re looking for a rustic camping experience you’ll have access to bathrooms, potable water, and food storage lockers. Leashed pets are permitted at this campground.

Private Campgrounds

There are dozens of private campgrounds and RV parks to choose from just outside of the national park. You can also find private accommodations in the nearby urban areas including Denver, Fort Collins, and Estes Park. The amenities at private campgrounds will range from rustic to luxury and may include full hookups, wireless internet, laundry facilities, cable TV, and swimming pools.

Backcountry Camping

If you are a lover of outdoor adventure you might want to park your rig and head out into the wild on your own. Summer is the most popular time for backpacking, with a permit required from May to October. You can camp in the backcountry at designated places in the park. If you’re up for a challenge you can even camp off-trail and truly be one with nature.

Seasonal activities in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spring

Birdwatching

A spring RV visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best times to see the over 280 species of birds that live here. At Cub Lake you will likely spot wrens and waterfowl, while Alluvial Fan is a great place to catch a glimpse of bluebirds and owls. With so many beautiful creatures flying through the skies, the Rockies is a paradise for birding enthusiasts of all levels.

Wildlife Watching

There are many native wildlife to see during your RV visit to the Rockies, from elk and moose to bighorn sheep and mule deer. You might even get to spot coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, badgers, and bears. Dawn and dusk are actually some of the best times to snap photos of these majestic creatures when they are active. There’s no one best spot for sightings, since the entire park is full of wondrous animals. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and camera.

Photography

Rocky Mountain National Park is a mecca for photographers since there are limitless opportunities for eye-popping photos. Capture it all, from soaring mountain peaks to magical lakes. Some of the best spots for incredible pictures during your motorhome excursion to the Rockies include Emerald Trail Lake, Sky Pond, Alberta Lake, Longs Peak, and the Trail Ridge Road.

Picnicking

Spring is a wondrous sight in the Rockies, filled with glowing green meadows and blooming wildflowers. If you want to spend a relaxing day in the serenity of nature’s beauty, there are many idyllic picnic spots to get comfortable. You can use public or private grills, as well as picnic tables in many locations. Some of the most picturesque picnic spots include Copeland Lake, Endovalley, Lily Lake, Beaver Ponds, and Lake Irene.

Wild Basin Area

If you want to park your travel trailer and get out into the wild you’ll love the chance to explore the one of the most picturesque regions in the park, the Wild Basin Area. This is a prime destination for hiking where you can discover gorgeous waterfalls, lush forests, and hidden creeks. There are several trails full of wonder to explore that will take you from serene lakes to mystifying cascades. Beyond the stunning mountain views, in the spring you’ll be greeted by beautiful, blooming wildflowers.

Summer

Climbing and Mountaineering

Climbing and mountaineering have been popular sports in the Rockies since the 1800s. This national park is a world-renowned destination for rock climbers with hundreds of peaks and rock faces to tackle. Some of the most common spots for these adventures include the 14,249-foot Longs Peak, Lumpy Ridge, and Hallett Peak. An RV trip to Rocky Mountain National Park offers wondrous opportunities for climbing and mountaineering unlike anywhere else in the country.

Holzwarth Historic Site

If you want to learn more about the cultural history of the Rocky Mountains, you won’t want to miss a tour of Holzwarth Historic Site, which is only available in the summer. Whether you venture to this historic site on your own or take a ranger-led tour, you’ll love the chance to explore a ranch, lodge, and cabins built by early 20th-century settlers. This the perfect spot to step back in time during your summer RV adventure to the Colorado Rockies.

Deer Mountain

If you want to get out of the motorhome and take a hike to one get one of the most spectacular views in the park, you’ll love a trip up Deer Mountain. This moderate three-mile trek is one of the most popular in the park since you can soak in incredible views of Longs Peak and Hallett Peak. At the summit, you can enjoy a mountain picnic while taking in the amazing panoramic views that surround you.

Night Sky Programs

An incredible way to celebrate the summer starry night sky is to a attend one of the regularly scheduled night sky and astronomy programs at the park. You can soak in dazzling celestial surprises by looking through telescopes, learning about the astronomy in the Rockies, or listening to thrilling ranger stories. If you’re taking your RV trip in August you can enjoy a visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park Night Sky Festival, which encompasses three fun-filled days of lectures, activities, and night sky viewing.

Sprague Lake or Lily Lake Walk

One of the best ways to experience the majesty of some of the park’s greatest lakes is to take a guided tour. Held several days a week all summer long, these ranger-led walks will take you around these enchanting lakes where you can see a wondrous site of mountains reflected in the water. Surrounded by tranquil forests, these spots are some of the most breathtaking in the entire park. You won’t want to miss these sights during your RV trip to the Rockies.

Fall

Horseback Riding

Horses have a special importance in the history of the Rocky Mountain region. You can experience part of that heritage by enjoying a horseback ride through this incredible scenery, whether you want to ride on your own or hire a guided tour by commercial vendors in the area. You’ll love the chance to get out of your camper and enjoy an unforgettable ride past majestic mountains, grassy meadows, and enchanting forests. Horseback riding is permitted on all park trails.

Cub Lake

One of the best experiences you won’t want to miss during your RV trip to the park is a hike to Cub Lake, where you’ll be greeted by a glistening mountain forest and colorful forest. Just under 5 miles round trip, this moderate trek will pass you through unique terrain that was damaged by the Fern Lake Fire in 2012 and you’ll end up at the serene backdrop of Cub Lake and Stones Peak.

Fishing

When you take an RV road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park you’ll be in a fishing haven, where you have the chance to catch native and non-native trout. The middle of the day is the best time to go fishing during the warmest part of the day. Some of the most popular fishing spots include Glacier Creek, Dream Lake, and the Upper Thompson River. You’ll need to get a Colorado fishing license before you start hooking your bait.

Biking Trail Ridge Road

Biking is a popular sport since you can cycle on any of the established roads in the park. If you’re looking for a thrilling uphill ride during your RV vacation to the Rockies, you won’t want to miss a chance to cycle the Trail Ridge Road. You’ll ride up to over 12,00 feet while zooming past gorgeous hillside views, awe-inspiring mountain peaks, and lush lines of forest.

Copeland Falls

The fall is a beautiful time of year to visit one of the many amazing waterfalls at the park, Copeland Falls. You can take an easy walk or hike just .3 miles up the Wild Basin Trailhead to be greeted by the majestic sight of this cascading rocky waterfall dazzling in the forest. If you want a chance to snap more pictures of other nearby waterfalls you can take a short detour to Ouzel Falls.

Winter

Cross-Country Skiing

If you want to explore a rustic winter wonderland, you’ll be in the perfect place for cross-country skiing during your winter RV excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll coast along serene freshly fallen snow through alpine wilderness under the backdrop of jaw-dropping peaks. The best area for cross-country skiing is the one the western side of the park where the snow is deeper.

Snowshoeing

If you love hiking in the winter, a unique way to explore the park is with snowshoes. Most trails are open to snowshoeing so you can park the RV and get out into the beauty of snow-capped trees and frozen lakes. Keep an eye out for regularly scheduled snowshoe ranger-led programs so you can learn from the experts as you coast around this wondrous wilderness.

Sledding & Tubing

A fun activity the whole family can enjoy during your motorhome trek to the Rockies is sledding and tubing at Hidden Valley. This gentle hill will give the kids a thrill as you coast among gorgeous views of the raw wilderness around you. On weekends you can warm up at the warming room located conveniently on site.

Ice Climbing

If you’re an avid climber and up for a new challenge, ice climbing at Rocky Mountain National Park should be on your bucket list. There are dozens of ice climbing routes around the park, but one of the most popular is at Hidden Falls since it’s easy to access and offers climbs of up to 90 feet high. For highly experienced ice climbers, you can tackle Alexander's Chimney on the east side of Longs Peaks to experience an epic adventure on your RV trip to one of the most stunning areas in the country.

Bear Lake Nature Trail

As long as you pack warm clothes in your travel trailer you’ll love a winter stroll in one of the most picturesque routes in the park, Bear Lake Nature Trail. On warmer winter days, this gravel trail is an easy half-mile loop that will take you through snowy forests to the base of Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak, where you can snap some unforgettable photos.

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