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Elemental forces of sky and earth still shape this stunning Colorado national park. Wetlands in lower elevations of the park contain lush plant life and dense wildlife. As you move higher, the landscape gives way to evergreen forests and high mountain lakes. Topping out on the alpine tundra reveals a harsh land where life nestles close to the ground in one of the earth's most extreme environments.

The park features about 570 kilometers of hiking trails that lead to the park’s splendid backcountry of meadows, surging streams, waterfalls and some of the park’s 150 lakes. The Continental Divide Trail, one of the country’s most important long-distance treks spanning nearly 5,000 kilometers from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico, threads the park from north to south. Wildlife abounds, from elk, moose and bighorn sheep (the park’s unofficial emblem) to the elusive mountain lions, bears and coyotes, and different wildflowers bloom every month from May through July.

 

Visiting the Park

The best time to visit and hike in Rocky Mountain National Park is from May to September for the highest likelihood of melted snow. May through September is also the best time to drive the park’s mountain roads to avoid road closures due to snow. Trail Ridge Road is the park’s paved most popular route, and Old Fall River Road is a shorter, mostly gravel path. All drivers in the park should plan to be patient and drive slowly and carefully on winding mountain roads where animal sightings are likely. For lighter crowds, consider avoiding the middle of summer and, instead, plan your trip from late May to early June or in September after Labor Day.