A bucket-list destination for many outdoor lovers, Rocky Mountain National Park is a spectacular natural playground that shouldn't be missed on any trip to Colorado. Plan an adventure and witness the natural beauty that has been preserved for more than 100 years.
The flat, half-mile interpretive nature trail that circles scenic Bear Lake is great for younger kids, offering the chance to see deer and gorgeous views of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain.
This easy, one-mile trail follows the bank of the Upper Colorado River, where thousands of colorful wildflowers bloom in the summer and moose are often spotted during the morning and early evening hours.
Experience the high country the old fashioned way — atop a horse. This is a wonderful way for older children to see more alpine country than possible on foot. There are two stables located within the park: Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables. Approximately 260 miles of trails are open to horse use, which makes up more than 70 percent of the total trail network in the park.
Fishing was a popular pastime for early visitors to the park, and it remains so today, with anglers catching several types of trout, including brown, brook, rainbow and cutthroat. Note: A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. For current Colorado fishing license fees visit the Colorado Division of Wildlife website.
The moose is a naturally shy creature, but sightings occur almost daily in the summer along the banks of the Upper Colorado River in the Kawuneeche Valley. Enjoy the moose at a distance and give these magnificent animals plenty of room to roam without human interference.
Over 370 species of birds have been documented in Rocky Mountain National Park and surrounding areas, making it a paradise for bird watchers. Specialty species unique to mountain habitats include White-tailed Ptarmigan, Blue Grouse, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Williamson's Sapsucker, Three-toed Woodpecker and the Mountain Chickadee.
At the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the historic village of Estes Park offers shopping and dining in a quaint, alpine resort-style setting. The town is also home to the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King's "The Shining." Every September, Estes Park hosts the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival, one of the largest Celtic festivals in the nation.