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One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary – How to Spend a Perfect Day in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

With 415 square miles of breathtaking mountain environments and more than 300 miles of hiking trails, you will never run out of things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park. Known for sprawling alpine and subalpine forests filled with pines and aspens, serene high-mountain lakes, towering glaciers, and jagged mountain peaks, this national park near Denver is nothing short of paradise for everyone who enjoys fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, or simply enjoying awe-inspiring views from the very summit of the Continental Divide.

One day in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Plan your trip

Below are all aspects of a great trip to the Rockies. Make sure you don’t miss anything because there are plenty of things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

1. WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK? 2. A FEW FACTS ABOUT ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK 3. ONE DAY IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK ITINERARY 3.1. Start Your Trip in Estes Park 3.2. Take the Estes Park Aerial Tramway 3.3. Check out the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center 3.4. Go for a Scenic Drive Along Trail Ridge Road 3.5. Stop at the Alpine Visitor Center 3.6. Explore Grand Lake 3.7. Have Some Lunch 3.8. Take the Trail Ridge Road Back to Estes Park 3.9. Check Out the Images of Rocky Mountain National Park Gallery 3.9.1. Relax with Dinner and a Couple of Drinks 4. WHERE TO STAY IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK? 5. ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK DAY TRIPS 6. EXTRA TIPS FOR VISITING ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK?

Due to the warm weather and open roads, there are always plenty of things to do in the Rocky Mountains during the summer , making this part of the year a pretty safe choice for visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. You can also visit between October and May, because the park is open all year, but make sure to bring your snowshoes, seeing as snow is possible as early as September. The clear benefit of visiting in the off season is missing all the summer crowds. If you are worried about that, then winter and spring are definitely the best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain in Winter

A FEW FACTS ABOUT ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Established in 1915 , Rocky Mountain National Park best exemplifies the beauty and the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains , a massive mountain range stretching through North America from British Columbia in Canada, all the way down to the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Located outside the town of Estes Park , it takes about an hour and a half to get from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park, with most of the time taken up by the drive from Denver to Estes Park. The park is famous for its wildlife, with 280 species of birds and more than 60 species of mammals , including elk, deer, moose, bear, bobcat, mountain lion, porcupine, bighorn sheep, fox, badger, marmot, and many others.

TIP:  Items you should pack for your Rocky Mountain trip – Hiking Boots – Flask Watter Bottle – Backpack – Bug Spray – Sun Shielding Hat or Ball Cap – Sunglasses

Trying to see everything there is to see in Rocky Mountain National Park in one day would frankly be impossible. There are dozens of mountain peaks with 156 lakes strewn in between, all of them protected by National Park status from any unwanted development and damage. To get the most out of your stay, follow this Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary and experience endless beautiful vistas of the most awe-inspiring landscape under the sun.

Rocky Mountain National Park

ONE DAY IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK ITINERARY

Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

TIP: Taking travel insurance is always a good idea, especially if you were planning to go hiking. Stay safe and protect yourself with the help of WorldNomads.com .

Start Your Trip in Estes Park

Assuming you’re coming from Denver to Estes Park on your way to Rocky Mountains National Park, don’t just drive through without stopping to see what this quaint little town has to offer. Surrounded by meadows with grazing elk, Estes Park is the go-to base for visitors to the National Park. After June 24, there are regular shuttles that offer a round-trip service from Denver, just in case you want to get from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park without having to drive or rent a car. You can learn more here .

Estes Park

There is also a free shuttle bus operated by the National Park from late May through early October, all along the Bear Lake Road. However, the shuttle bus stops only at a couple of trailheads, and misses some of the park’s key attractions. That is why visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with a private vehicle is the go-to option for most sightseers. Estes Park is a good place for coffee or breakfast before visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park 1

Take the Estes Park Aerial Tramway

While in Estes Park, take the opportunity to ride the aerial tram all the way to the top of Prospect Mountain , with some amazing views of Estes Valley. Although the ride is completely safe, you will still feel slight apprehension when you see the long cable between the two stops. Don’t worry, though! You will be perfectly fine.

Although riding the tram is one of the scarier things to do in the Rocky Mountains, you will love the view of the surrounding valley and the rugged peaks in the distance. In case you’re visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with kids, then check out Fun City instead, with a number of exciting activities for children, including slides and bumper boats.

Estes Park Aerial Tramway

Check out the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

In addition to a handy map of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center also has a nice little gift shop, a bathroom, and free Wi-Fi. As you enter the park, make a brief stop to talk to the friendly and knowledgeable rangers and watch a short film about the park. It is a great place to get all the information you need about the trails, viewpoints, photo locations, and things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Go for a Scenic Drive Along Trail Ridge Road

As you leave the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, just continue down the same road, past the intersection and the Deer Mountain Trailhead. The Trail Ridge Road is one of the most beautiful roads in the United States, with breathtaking alpine scenery, plenty of wildlife on the side of the road, and multiple turn-offs and scenic viewpoints to go for a brief stop and enjoy the awe-inspiring vistas . The road, which is closed during the winter, is approximately 42 miles long, so don’t hesitate to go for a stroll if you need a break.

All in all, the Trail Ridge Road is the best road through Rocky Mountain National Park, with gradual elevation and few hairpin turns. Driving along this road may take you a couple of hours including stops, but it will definitely prove to be the highlight of your Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary.

Trail Ridge Road

Stop at the Alpine Visitor Center

At 11,796 feet, the scenic Alpine Visitor Center is the highest visitor center in the National Park System. It is very popular due to the amazing view , a café with some snacks, and a souvenir shop. Make sure to refresh yourself with some hot or cold beverages and food. Just remember to bring a jacket up to the viewpoint, since it can get pretty windy, even during the summer months.

Explore Grand Lake

The Trail Ridge Road ends in Grand Lake , a beautiful town with a western feel at the shores of the eponymous Grand Lake, the largest and deepest natural body of water in all of Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park surrounds Grand Lake on three sides, and both North Inlet and East Inlet, flowing out of the park, belong to the lake’s natural tributaries.

The Ute Tribe’s name for Grand Lake was Spirit Lake , since, according to their beliefs, the spirits of the deceased rested in the cold, serene depths below the lake’s surface. Grand Lake is at the source of the Colorado River, while the nearby Lake Granby and Shadow Mountain Lake are man-made reservoirs belonging to the Colorado-Big Thompson Project .

Trail Ridge Road Views

Have Some Lunch

Assuming you left Estes Park around 11 AM, by the time you get to Grand Lake, it should already be 2-3 PM, so definitely about time to go and grab a bite to eat. Check out Sagebrush BBQ & Grill , one of the more popular places in Grand Lake, with its historic Western décor , peanut shells strewn across the floor, friendly service, and tasty, flavorful barbecue specialties. It is also popular among the locals as a fun place to catch a game, especially in the off-season.

For dessert, pay a visit to Polly’s Sweet Shop , located in a charming little green house right across the street, with “comfort food” such as taffy, caramel apples, and ice-cream. Don’t miss it, especially if you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with kids.

Take the Trail Ridge Road Back to Estes Park

For additional perspectives of Rocky Mountain National Park, take the Trail Ridge Road back to Estes Park. Don’t rush it and savor the additional chance to take in the majesty of the mountaintops and unspoilt nature at its best. You will notice that this itinerary doesn’t include any stops for hiking. With the vastness of the park, there simply isn’t enough time if you want to see as much as possible of Rocky Mountain National Park in one day. With all the stops, you will likely spend seven hours or a little bit more from Estes Park to Grand Lake and back again.

Trail Ridge Road

Check Out the Images of Rocky Mountain National Park Gallery

When you return to Estes Park, take the time to visit the Images of Rocky Mountain National Park , a small gallery and souvenir shop near Bond Park before the big intersection. The gallery is dedicated to photographer Erik Stensland and his amazing work in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can feel the photographer’s passion in every image. The gallery is a great place to look back, reminisce, recognize some of the places you’ve visited yourself, and grab a print or a plaque if you find something you really like.

Relax with Dinner and a Couple of Drinks

After a day of sightseeing and driving along scenic roads, nothing feels better than a nice dinner in a cozy tavern with a couple of beers to close out the day. Luckily, Estes Park has a couple of great places for you to choose from. The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern serves some great American dishes, but is also a popular place for gathering with live blue grass music and a top-of-the-line beer list. Try the Bison Meatballs and then taste some of the great beers the Colorado craft beer scene has to offer.

Alternatively, consider Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Brew for some of the best smoked meats including ribs, steaks, and smoked turkey, with a number of microbrews to compliment the delicious food.

WHERE TO STAY IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK?

TIP: Click here to find the best accommodation deals near Rocky Mountain National Park.

Gateway Inn and Conference Center

Gateway Inn and Conference Center

120 Lake Avenue, Grand Lake

Located in Grand Lake, Gateway Inn and Conference Center offers magnificent views of the mountain from the on-site terrace. The guests can relax in the hotel’s hot tub and sauna or sit down at the bar for a drink. The spacious air-conditioned rooms are quite memorable with their wooden décor and the recognizable rustic lodge atmosphere. In each room, there is a comfortable seating area, although the guests are also invited to relax in the shared lounge.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

Appenzell Inn

Appenzell Inn

1100 Big Thompson Avenue

Inspired by Swiss mountain inns, Appenzell Inn in Estes Park stands out with its one-of-a-kind décor and richly furnished rooms. In addition to all the regular amenities such as free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV, small refrigerator, and microwave, several suites also come with a fireplace, a small kitchen, or a spa bath . The property is surrounded by beautiful gardens a walking trail, a picnic/BBQ area, and two stunning waterfall ponds . The extremely helpful staff will keep you up to date on all the hiking options nearby.

Silver Moon Inn

Silver Moon Inn

175 Spruce Drive, Estes Park

Another excellent property in Estes Park, the Silver Moon Inn , is located on the banks of the Fall River. In addition to a seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub , free Wi-Fi, daily continental breakfast, and other amenities, a number of rooms come with a fireplace and a spectacular view of the river . Guests can also take advantage of the hotel’s BBQ facilities and free parking. It is a quiet property, even though it is located within walking distance of the town’s most popular shops and restaurants. The surrounding trees and the nearby hill hugging the hotel make it feel like home.

The Inn on Fall River & Fall River Cabins

The Inn on Fall River & Fall River Cabins

1660 Fall River Road, Estes Park

If you’re visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with kids, The Inn on Fall River & Fall River Cabins is the perfect choice for you. It is one of the few properties in Estes Park with a children’s playground, and all the exciting things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park, such as fishing, hiking, and cycling, are only a stone’s throw away. All the rooms have a unique rustic cabin look and feel , and a couple of them come with a fireplace or a terrace with a view of the river. Occasionally, there is a light show on the river, even though just hearing the river’s gentle murmur guarantees a peaceful and relaxing stay.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK DAY TRIPS

Wildside 4×4 tours.

Fun and adventure await on this exciting day trip in a 4×4 Jeep . Get off the beaten path and embark on a true off-road expedition , helmed by a company that makes it their mission to make sure you have the experience of a lifetime. With professional, informative tour guides and top-quality vehicles, you will discover new things to do in the Rocky Mountains behind each hairpin bend. In addition to the amazing views, expect a fun, bumpy, and above all, exhilarating ride !

Rapid Transit Rafting

In case off-road expeditions are not really your thing, but you are still interested in an adventure, then whitewater rafting may be just your cup of tea. The options include a half-day trip on the Cache La Poudre or a full-day trip down the Colorado River . Surprisingly, this is one of the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park with kids, since children as young as 7 can join the fun! With great river guide and excellent communication before and during the trip, expect a lot of excitement with beautiful scenery and wildlife encounters.

Rocky Mountain National Park Day Trip from Denver

If you want to go from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park , the best way to do it is on a full-day trip from Denver. This classic Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary includes a drive along Trail Ridge Road , lunch in Grand Lake, and frequent stops for sightseeing and wildlife watching, with insightful and informative tips about the geological and cultural history of Colorado provided by the tour’s certified guide.

Hiking Adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver

Somewhere between the crazy, off the wall off-road adventures and relaxing guided day tours, you will find the golden median: a fun hiking adventure with just the right mixture of excitement and relaxation. This tour also takes you to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver, with a chance to see beautiful historic towns and stunning scenery while travelling there.

With a tasty picnic lunch after completing a 4-mile trail, you will get a chance to see Lily Lake, Cub Lake, Trail Ridge , and many other attractions. And since you’ll do a part of it on foot, expect to encounter countless wild turkeys, chipmunks, and even moose.

EXTRA TIPS FOR VISITING ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Since there is plenty of wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park, you will likely encounter various wild animals. If you want to increase your chances of spotting them, use your ears , and not just your eyes.

PIN FOR LATER!

If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Rocky Mountain Itinerary, feel free to share it in the comments below!

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip.

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully. Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times. Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

Related posts:

Anca One Day Itinerary

Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).

Thank you so much. Our time in the Rocky Mountains was perfect! Thanks for your itinerary.

We are so glad our itinerary helped you out! 🙂

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THE 10 BEST Rocky Mountain National Park Tours & Excursions

Rocky mountain national park tours.

  • Walking Tours
  • Sightseeing Tours
  • Private Tours
  • Cultural Tours
  • Historical & Heritage Tours
  • Photography Tours
  • Multi-day Tours
  • Up to 1 hour
  • 1 to 4 hours
  • 4 hours to 1 day
  • Likely to Sell Out
  • Special Offers
  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

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1. Discover Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver or Boulder

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2. Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park Tour from Denver Winter and Spring

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3. Private and Personalized Three Hour Morning Tour of Rocky Mountain National Park

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4. Hiking Adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver

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5. Rocky Mountain National Park Tour from Denver

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6. Rocky Mountain National Park in Summer Tour from Denver

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7. Top of the World Photo Tour in the Rocky Mountain National Park

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8. Private Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver and Boulder

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9. Winter / Spring Private Rocky Mountain National Park Guided Tour

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10. Private Winter Tour in Rocky Mountain National Park

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11. Private Three Hour Afternoon Custom Tour of Rocky Mountain National Park

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12. Rocky Mountain National Park Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour

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13. Half-Day Retractable Glass Top Tour in Rocky Mtn National Park

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14. Sunset Photo Tour in the Rocky Mountain National Park

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15. Private Hiking Tour to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver and Boulder

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16. Summer Private Rocky Mountain National Park Driving Tour

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17. Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour in Rocky Mountain National Park

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18. Private Birding Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

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19. The Premier Wildlife Tours in Rocky Mountain National Park

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20. 4 Hour Private Guided Driving or Hiking Tour in Rocky Mountain National Park

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21. Women's Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park for Beginners

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22. 4 or 6 Hour Private Geology Tour in Rocky Mountain National Park

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23. Sunset and Night Photography Tour on Trail Ridge Road

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24. Sunrise Tour of Rocky Mountain National Park

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25. Private Day Tour From Denver to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park

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26. Rocky Mountain Private Day Tour & Hike from Estes Park

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27. Rocky Mountain National Park Private Driving/Hiking Tour 6 hrs

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28. Private Rocky Mountain National Park Tour from Denver

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29. Explore & Photograph Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park with a Pro

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30. Estes Park Guided EBike Tour Explore a Mountain Town by Ebike

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Rocky Mountain National Park: Tours Information

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Unbeatable One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

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Looking to make the most of your day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park?

In this post, I’m going to give you a compact itinerary for one day in Rocky Mountain National Park, following a stop during my epic five-month exploration of the American Rockies.

My first tip: unless you’re into winter sports, don’t go in the winter. I went in March, and honestly, you can’t see much until late May or early June. If you’re visiting in winter, you’ll have to pick one side of the park for a day trip because Trail Ridge Road is closed.

So, I’ve enlisted the help of Sonia of Carey On Travels to help me plan this itinerary, based on her much more beautiful fall day spent in the park.

One day is a good enough time to kick off your adventure on the east side, traversing the Bear Creek corridor. Hike some of the best trails, and wrap up your day with a magnificent sunset from the Grand Lake Lodge on the park’s west side. I’ll also recommend other awesome places to visit and a quick travel guide packed with useful info. 

Emerald Lake and reflection with rocks and mountains in snow around at autumn. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, USA.

Sample One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Here’s a sample one-day itinerary, all conveniently laid out in one scroll. I’ll provide more details about each place below.

Morning: 

  • Enter the park on  Moraine Drive in Estes Park , going through the Beaver Meadows Entrance. 
  • Hike by Bear Lake  and up to  Nymph Lake and Dream Lake . After snapping pics of Dream Lake, you’ll head up the  last stretch to Emerald Lake.
  • Visit Moraine Park  to watch the grazing elk. You can look for bugling elk if you’re here in the early fall.
  • Eat a picnic lunch on the  east shore of Sprague Lake , followed by a  quick walk around the lake.
  • Drive up and over  Trail Ridge Road , stopping at a few overlooks for pics or short hikes. 
  • Hike to Adams Falls and the East Inlet Trail , with a beautiful waterfall cascading over rocks and frequent moose sightings.
  • Watch the  sunset from the historic front porch of the Grand Lake Lodge. 

Recommended lodging options for the Night: Estes Park entrance

  • Luxury: The Estes Park Resort
  • Mid-range: Stanley Hotel
  • Budget: Blue Door Inn

Recommended lodging options for the Night: Grand Lake entrance

  • Mid-range: Gateway Inn
  • Budget: Grand Lake Lodge

Dream Lake and reflection with mountains in snow around at autumn. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, USA.

Quick Guide to Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

Encompassing 415 square miles of Colorado’s rugged beauty, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest national parks, with elevations ranging from 7,860 to a breathtaking 14,259 feet. It is home to 147 sparkling lakes, 77 towering mountains over 12,000 feet, and 355 miles of hiking trails.

What to Do in Rocky Mountain National Park in One Day

Travel Tip!  Make sure you have  timed entry reservations  for the park and the Bear Lake Corridor in the summer months so that you can follow this itinerary.

Early Morning: Beaver Meadows Entrance

Moraine Drive leads you out of Estes Park towards the Beaver Meadows Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll pass the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center before entering the park. 

Once you get into the park, follow signs for the Bear Lake Corridor. Take a left on Bear Lake Road and follow this all the way to the Bear Lake trailhead. 

Rangers will turn you around if the lot is full, which is often the case after 7:30 am. In that case, you will be directed to the Park and Ride on Bear Lake Road. 

A free shuttle bus runs frequently from here to the Bear Creek trailhead, so this just adds a few minutes to your trip. There are restrooms and rangers at the Park and Ride and the trailhead.

Highway at autumn sunny day in Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado, USA.

Emerald Lake Hike

  • Trail Length:  3.8 miles roundtrip
  • Duration:  About 2 hours
  • Difficulty:  Moderate

The Emerald Lake hike is one of the most popular hikes in the park. The trail is in good shape, and you see three beautiful alpine lakes on the way up. If you’re not up for going all the way to Emerald Lake, you can make it a 1.2 mile roundtrip by turning back at Nymph Lake, or a 2.2-mile roundtrip by turning back at Dream Lake.

From the trailhead, start out by walking past Bear Lake, following signs for Emerald Lake/Nymph Lake. The first section of the trail is paved, though this quickly turns into a dirt trail. This 0.6-mile stretch has a few steep sections, ending at the lily-pad-covered Nymph Lake. 

Once you’ve stopped and enjoyed the views of Nymph Lake, follow signs for Emerald Lake/Dream Lake. About 0.2 miles into this stretch of the hike, there is an overlook over Long’s Peak and Nymph Lake, a great Instagram spot.

The mountains of Emerald Lake on a sunny day

The remaining 0.5 mile trail to Dream Lake is steep with built-in stairs, but the views make the climb worthwhile. When you reach Dream Lake, you’ll see Hallett Peak reflected in the lake. It’s a great spot for catching the sunrise if you arrive in time. If you decide to turn back, take a quick walk around Dream Lake first.

If you are up for more hiking, take the trail on the right side of the lake towards Emerald Lake (0.8 miles further). This is the steepest part of the trail, taking you up over 10,000 ft!

Bonus Hikes:

To extend this hike further, you have a few options. 

  • Walk around the flat Bear Lake trail (0.6 miles), located near the trailhead and parking lot. You can do this at the beginning or when you return to the trailhead.
  • You can also include Lake Haiyaha, which adds 2 miles and 350 ft more elevation gain. On your way back from Emerald Lake, you can decide if you want to add Haiyaha. The turn-off is between Dream Lake and Nymph Lake. 

If you do all five lakes, it’ll be a 6.2 mile hike with around 1000 feet of elevation gain.

Dream Lake landscape framed by alpine pine trees

Moraine Park

Once you wrap up this hike, head back to your car (via shuttle if needed) and make the short drive to Moraine Park. Herds of elk frequently graze in this area, with the mountain peaks providing a beautiful backdrop. 

Wildlife Spotting Hint!  Look for where you see the most cars, whether at the Moraine Park trailhead or picnic area. This should help you find the herd of elk. 

If you visit in the fall as I did, you have a good chance of seeing the bugling elk during their mating season (September-October). At any time of year, keep your distance from the elk and avoid loud noises.

Elk in Moraine Park

Sprague Lake

  • Trail Length:  0.7 mile loop
  • Duration:  About 30 minutes
  • Difficulty:  Easy

If the elk are active, have your packed lunch at Moraine Park. If not, drive further up Bear Lake Road to Sprague Lake and enjoy your picnic there. It’s a short and accessible 0.7 mile trail with great mountain views, especially from the east shore.

Early morning reflection of Hallet Peak in Sprague Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Trail Ridge Road

After lunch, drive up Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the U.S., which reaches 12,183 ft. 

Winter Closure!  Trail Ridge Road is closed in winter; when in doubt, check the  park’s website  for the status before you head out. 

Stop and park at Many Parks Curve , the first hairpin turn you come across driving up the pass. It has a boardwalk and panoramic views over Bighorn Mountain and Horseshoe Park. 

The next stop you’ll make is at the  Forest Canyon Overlook,  which looks down into Forest Canyon below and has excellent views over Long’s Peak on a clear day. 

The Alpine Visitor Center  is a good place for a coffee or snack break. You can learn more about the tundra area and visit the gift shop there. If you’re up for it, there’s a 0.5 mile  Alpine Ridge Trail  that you can check out from the top. Remember you’re at an elevation of over 12,000 ft., though!

While cruising down the west side of Trail Ridge Road,  swing by Fairview Curve  for some awesome views over the Kawuneeche Valley. Look out for moose and elk as you approach Grand Lake.

Highway in alpine tundra. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colora

Adam’s Falls

  • Trail Length:  0.6 miles roundtrip to Adam’s Falls 
  • Duration:  About 30 min 
  • Difficulty:  Easy-Moderate

After exiting the park, turn left and drive through the town of Grand Lake. Once you park at the East Inlet trailhead, you’ll take a short 1/3 mile hike up to Adam’s Falls. The hike to Adams Falls is a relatively easy, short walk leading to a beautiful waterfall cascading over the rocks. There are some stairs built into the trail you’ll need to navigate. 

After seeing the waterfall, retrace your steps to the trailhead or continue on the East Inlet Trail. If you keep going, be aware of a fairly steep drop-off just after the waterfall. On the East Inlet Trail are stunning meadows where you can often see moose. 

Wildlife Tip!  As with the elk, steer clear of the moose, especially when seeing a mother with calves.

The East Inlet Trail is one of the  best day hikes in Grand County, Colorado . But, given that it is an 18 mile out and back trail, you likely will only choose to do a small piece of this trail. 

Adams Falls on a cloudy day with mountains and trees in the background along the East Inlet Trail of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Sunset at the Grand Lake Lodge

As our day in Rocky Mountain National Park draws to a close, make your way to the Grand Lake Lodge on the western edge of the park. The lodge has a spectacular vantage point for watching the sunset. 

Kick back and savor the sunset hues while enjoying a drink or snack on the lodge’s historic front porch. Take in the views of Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir, and the surrounding mountains. If you’re on the lookout for an amazing dinner spot, this place is top-notch (although a bit pricey).

If you’re extending your stay on the Grand Lake side of the park, check out “ How to Plan your Perfect Summer Getaway in Grand County, Colorado .”

Watching the sunset on a one day in Rocky Mountain national park itinerary

Where to Stay

Estes Park is the nearest town to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park (your starting point), and Grand Lake is the closest town on the west side (your ending point). I’d suggest staying in a hotel in Estes Park or camping in Rocky Mountain National Park the night before. For the night after your visit, your best bet is to stay in a hotel or campsite around Grand Lake.

Best Hotels in Estes Park

Best hotels in grand lake, best campgrounds in rocky mountain national park, places to visit with more time, other things to do in rocky mountain national park.

  • Wild Basin Area:  Located in the southeastern part of the park, this less crowded area has great backcountry camping, hiking, and waterfall spots.
  • Never Summer Mountains:  A rugged mountain range on the park’s west side.
  • Longs Peak:  Experienced climbers can aim for the 14,259-foot summit of Longs Peak, the highest peak in the park.
  • Holzwarth Historic Site:  Dive into history at this early 20th-century homestead on the park’s west side, offering guided tours during summer months.
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail:  Hike a portion of this famous trail that spans from Canada to Mexico.
  • Take a horseback ride:  Near Sprague Lake, take a horseback guided ride.
  • Hike Mills Lake/Jewel Lake (Bear Lake corridor):  A moderately difficult hike to lake views and wildlife.
  • Alberta Falls Hike (Bear Lake corridor):  Another popular moderate hike, this trail takes you to a beautiful waterfall.
  • Hike Cascade Falls (Grand Lake side):  This short, easy hike takes you to a stunning waterfall with Grand Lake landscapes.
  • Lily Lake Hike (Peak to Peak Highway entrance):  Take a walk around this peaceful lake for casual mountain views. 

Day Trips Near Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Boulder:  Known for its arts scene and outdoor activities, you can tour the University of Colorado campus, explore the historic Pearl Street Mall, or hike the trails at the beautiful Flatirons here.
  • Denver:  Hang out at the Mile High City’s Botanic Gardens and Zoo to various brewpubs and eateries.
  • Fort Collins:  Home to Colorado State University, stroll around the Old Town Square or chug down beers at one of the many breweries in the city.
  • Colorado Springs:  Garden of the Gods is beautiful. Or you can drive up to Pikes Peak or explore the Cave Of The Winds Mountain Park.
  • Estes Park:  Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, is a charming mountain town known for the Stanley Hotel that inspired Stephen King’s The Shining.
  • Vail:  Although best known for its world-class ski resort, Vail has year-round activities.

Herd of deer on the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park

Is 1 Day Enough for Rocky Mountain National Park

With 24 hours in Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll be able to hit the highlights and drive from east to west. If you have extra time, you can take more or longer hikes and take more time to spot wildlife.

With multi-day trips, you can go to less-visited areas of the park, such as Wild Basin and the Mummy Range, and undertake longer hikes like the Longs Peak and Estes Cone. This will give you a chance to experience the park’s varied ecosystems, from alpine tundra to verdant forests. 

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is the summertime. Spring (April through May) starts late in this part, with snowy trails finally starting to melt in May. Summer (June through August) is the peak season, with warm  weather , clear trails, and the park shuttle in operation. It’s ideal for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife spotting, but be prepared for bigger crowds. 

Fall (September and October) brings stunning autumn colors and the elk rut. The park is less crowded, but the weather can be unpredictable. Around early October, winter weather starts affecting the high-elevation roads, which will soon close for the rest of the season. However, this season is great for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and peaceful hikes.

A snowman in the winter wonderland of Rocky Mountain national park

How to Get Here

Rocky Mountain National Park is located in the north-central region of Colorado and is easily accessible by car. The nearest major cities are Denver and Colorado Springs.

From Denver:  The park is approximately an hour and a half drive from Denver. Simply take US-36 W from Denver to Estes Park, which serves as the eastern gateway to the park. Denver International Airport is the closest major airport to the park, making it a convenient starting point for those coming from out of state.  Find a rental car with DiscoverCars.

From Colorado Springs:  The drive from Colorado Springs to the park takes around two and a half hours. You’ll take US-24 W and then US-36 E to Estes Park. Colorado Springs has a smaller airport.

Public Transportation:  Unfortunately, there is no direct public transportation from the major cities to the park. However, during peak season, Estes Park operates a  free shuttle service  that connects downtown Estes Park with the park’s shuttle system.

Park Shuttles:  Shuttles provide easy access to many of the park’s most popular attractions and trailheads within the park. The park’s shuttle system operates during the summer months and is free of charge.

Final Thoughts: Day Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

This itinerary takes you through the best of the wild beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park with our itinerary. But there is so much more to explore and discover in this park and in the surrounding area. 

If you’re looking for more Colorado destinations beyond the vistas of Trail Ridge Road to the clear waters of Emerald Lake, explore our other articles for more exciting journeys across the state.

Before you Close That Tab…Where to Next in Colorado?

I’ve vanlifed south to the north all of Colorado in the dead of winter to early spring. Let me tell you, it was cold, but turn on that buddy heater, and let’s hit the slopes. If you’re looking for more information on Colorado, check out these other destination itineraries.

  • Perfect One Day In Mesa Verde National Park Itinerary
  • Perfect One Day In Black Canyon Of The Gunnison Itinerary

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Catherine, a seasoned travel writer, has lived in 4 different states and explored 36 states and 28 national parks. After spending two years embracing van life, she's now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge of day trips across America. Catherine's other works has been referenced in major publications like MSN, Self, and TripSavvy.

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An Incredible Rocky Mountain National Park One Day Itinerary

Looking to spend one day in rocky mountain national park this rmnp one day itinerary covers all the highlights you’ll need.

Located north of Denver, Colorado , Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most breathtaking places in America, with its soaring peaks, alpine meadows, and sparkling lakes.

On any given day here, you could find yourself surrounded by snow-capped mountains while taking in stunning views of waterfalls cascading down rocky cliffsides or admiring wildflowers blooming across lush green valleys.

Since growing up in Colorado and having the Rocky Mountains as my backyard playground, I’ve seen enough of the park to give you recommendations on the best Rocky Mountain National Park one day itinerary.

Let’s jump in!

Rocky Mountain National Park One Day Itinerary

Head to Region 4, also known as the heart of the park of Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll enter from the east side by Estes Park through the Beaver Meadows Entrance.

You can park in the parking lot right before the entrance or at the Park&Ride lot and take the Bear Lake Shuttle to Bear Lake Trailhead, which is the last stop on the shuttle.

🚙 When booking your rental car online, I highly recommend going through Discover Rental Cars as they have the best prices for Colorado!

rocky mountain national park mills lake

1. Walk Bear Lake Loop

Start off your one day itinerary with an easy walk on the Bear Lake Loop. This is one of the most popular trails in Rocky Mountain National Park and it’s a great way to get acclimated to the altitude. The trail circles around Bear Lake, providing stunning views at every turn.

This trail will take about 30 minutes, depending on how many times you pause to take in the views. Be sure to walk the loop counterclockwise early in the morning to get the most out of your walk!

2. Hike Alberta Falls Trail

alberta falls

After Bear Lake Trail, head over to Alberta Falls Trail for a short 45-minute heart-pumping hike. The Alberta Falls trailhead is accessible right at the entrance of the Bear Lake Loop Trailhead and is about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) roundtrip.

Alberta Falls is about 30 feet tall and rushes down a narrow gorge in Glacier Creek. Once you reach the falls, you’ll start to feel the mist on your face. This is the perfect location to stop for a quick snack.

Be careful of your food as little critters like chipmunks are sure to want a taste of your snack!

3. Continue Hiking to One of the Lakes

From Alberta Falls, you can keep hiking toward one of the lakes in the area: Lake Haiyaha, Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, and Emerald Lake. These lakes offer stunning views and an opportunity to explore more of Rocky Mountain National Park!

Lake Haiyaha

Lake Haiyaha offers visitors a chance to explore a lake in the shadow of several towering granite monoliths. This lake is perfect for an afternoon stroll as you meander along its edges, taking in all the unique geological features that make this place so special.

The trail to Lake Haiyaha from Alberta Falls is packed with dirt and can get pretty crowded. From Alberta Falls, the trail will be about 3.5 miles through the Lock Vale Trail and Glacier Creek.

After Lake Haiyaha, you’ll come upon Dream Lake, one of the most popular destinations in the park. With a short hike from Lake Haiyaha, you’ll arrive at this glacial-fed lake surrounded by pines and mountain peaks.

Sit for a while and enjoy the serene atmosphere or dig out your camera to capture some stunning shots!

dream lake

Emerald Lake

The name says it all for Emerald Lake – this lake is extremely photogenic with vivid blue-green hues and glittering sunlight dancing across the water’s surface.

Emerald Lake is just half a mile past Dream Lake and the trail ends abruptly here. After taking in the views, you’ll turn back to where you came from.

Just past Dream Lake and 0.3 miles lies Nymph Lake, which is known for its beautiful views and its abundance of wildlife. Here, you might spot moose or diverse bird populations. You’ll also see some wildflowers along the lake’s edge or lilies in the water!

After enjoying your time at Nymph Lake, you’ll head back towards Bear Lake Trailhead, which is just an additional half-mile.

Instead of doing the Four Lakes Loop Trail and then getting back to the Bear Lake Trail Head, you can choose to continue on to Mills Lake from Alberta Falls for a more moderate and less crowded trail. This is about a 5.6-mile hike from Alberta Falls and can take up to 3 hours to hike out and back.

Both the Four Lakes Loop Trail and the hike to Mills Lake from Alberta Falls will take the same amount of time.

4. Drive the Trail Ridge Road

trail ridge road

When you take a drive along the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road, you will be treated to some of the most stunning views in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Trail Ridge Road is one of the most scenic drives in all of Colorado and is considered a must-do while visiting the park.

Plan to drive about 2 hours on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The road climbs to an elevation of 12,183 feet above sea level and takes you through meadows filled with wildflowers and towering peaks. Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide at Milner Pass.

Note: The Continental Divide is a mountain range that separates the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and is located in North America.

Along the way, be sure to stop at one of the overlooks: Many Parks Curve Overlook, Rainbow Curve Overlook, Forest Canyon Overlook, Gore Range Overlook, or Continental Divide for some of the best views!

You’ll also come across the Alpine Visitor Center, which is the highest visitor center in the United States. From here, you can hike the half-mile Alpine Ridge Trail for stunning views and possibly some wildlife spotting!

At the end of the drive, you’ll end up in Kawuneeche Valley, home to herds of elk and bighorn sheep. Make sure to stay in your car while viewing wildlife, as they can be unpredictable and dangerous.

You can continue another 10 minutes to the town of Grand Lake to see the views, walk along the boardwalk, or grab snacks for the drive back.

Take in the sights and sounds of Rocky Mountain National Park as you drive back Trail Ridge Road – it’s a memory you won’t soon forget!

5. Eat & Shop in Estes Park

downtown estes park

After your day of exploring, treat yourself to a relaxing evening in Estes Park, the town right before entering RMNP. Get a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in town or take a stroll down Elkhorn Avenue and check out the unique shops.

One of my favorite shops is Trendz at the Park. The shop is filled with beautiful and trendy home goods. There are also specialized Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Colorado souvenirs.

Other shops to check out are The Old-Fashioned Candy Store, Funky Moose, For Bare Feet, and Wear Me Out T’s.

For dinner, check out Mama Rose’s for home-style Italian food. You can’t go wrong with a tasty plate of pasta and garlic bread!

Another option is to head to Smokin’ Dave’s for some local American food. Their appetizers are delicious as well as the steaks and sandwiches.

6. Stargaze in Rocky Mountain National Park

stargazing at night

Rocky Mountain National Park is open 24/7, so you can certainly get back into the park and do some stargazing.

You can head back to Bear Lake and stargaze there or get back on Trail Ridge Road and see the night sky from Forest Canyon Overlook.

Either way, the stars are spectacular in Rocky Mountain National Park and it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

Just remember to be respectful of nature – no flashlights, loud noises, or campfires. All of these can distract wildlife and cause them distress.

Get ready for a night under the stars in one of nature’s most majestic places!

More time? Options to Extend Your Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Drive the peak to peak highway.

peak to peak highway

The Peak to Peak Highway is one of the most scenic drives in Colorado. Starting from Estes Park, you’ll drive anywhere between 1.5-3 hours and end up in Central City or Black Hawk – two former gold-mining towns.

During your journey, marvel at the mountain peaks, aspen trees, abundant wildlife, ghost towns (like Caribou), and old mining sites.

The drive will take you through the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Arapaho National Forest, and Roosevelt National Forest.

You don’t want to miss this beautiful Colorado experience!

Wanderful Tip: You can also drive the Peak to Peak Highway from Denver to Estes Park to start your Rocky Mountain National Park one day itinerary.

Stanley Hotel Tour

stanley hotel in etes park

The Stanley Hotel is a must-do in Estes Park. The hotel offers tours for those interested in learning more about its history and the horror movie classic, The Shining.

You can take a guided tour that takes you through the Stephen King Suite and other iconic locations from the movie, as well as the hotel’s North and South Wing.

If the Shining isn’t something you want to hear about, you can also take part in a spirited night tour of the Stanley Hotel. It is said to be one of Colorado’s most haunted locations! Hear the enthusiastic storyteller talk and ask questions about the hotel’s paranormal past!

Hike the Only 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park: Long’s Peak

longs peak

A 14er is a mountain peak that reaches an elevation of at least 14,000 ft. The only 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park is Long’s Peak.

The hike to the summit requires advanced preparation and a high degree of physical fitness due to its elevation gain (5,000 ft) and length (14 miles round trip). The trailhead can be accessed on the Peak to Peak Highway at the Ranger Station turnoff just 10 miles north of CO 7 and CO 72 junction.

Hiking Long’s peak takes anywhere from 10-16 hours to complete and most people start the hike around 2-3 AM. The trail itself involves a lot of scrambling, windy conditions, and slippery ledges.

The best time to hike this trail is from mid-July to September. You’ll also want to be acclimated to the higher altitude before attempting this hike!

If you’re up for an adventure, then add Long’s Peak via the Keyhole Route to your list of things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park!

How to Get to Rocky Mountain National Park

trail ridge road

The closest airport to Rocky Mountain National Park is Denver International Airport (DIA). You’ll have a few options to get to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver and to the Beaver Meadows Entrance in Estes Park.

The first, and most straightforward, way is to take highway I-25 North to Lyons, then take highway CO 7 up to Estes Park. This will take you just under 2 hours to drive.

The second way to reach Rocky Mountain National Park is through Boulder via US-36. It’s a bit longer, but it’s scenic and offers some great views of the area.

Finally, you can also drive the Peak to Peak Highway. You can start the drive on this highway all the way from Blackhawk or anywhere from Boulder on CO-7, CO-72, and CO-119. This is the longest way to RMNP, but you’ll have beautiful views on your way up!

If you aren’t looking to rent a car, then you can book transportation from Denver to Estes Park with the Estes Park Shuttle either from the airport or Denver Union Station. The cost is $115 round-trip. You’ll need to make a reservation 1 week in advance and be mindful of the hours (7 AM-7 PM).

Note: You won’t be able to drive the Trail Ridge Road if you decide to reserve transportation to Rocky Mountain National Park.

My personal recommendation is to rent a car to drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. You can park your car in the park and take the park shuttles to get around.

The Best Time to Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

shaded trails in RMNP

The best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is typically late May-early October, depending on the type of activity you’re planning.

If your goal is to do some hiking, then September and October are great months! The trail conditions will be better and the temperatures will be mild.

The summer is usually the busiest time for Rocky Mountain National Park, so if you’re looking for more solitude, I recommend planning your trip in late May or early June before the busy season starts. It’s also during the summer months that frequently have afternoon storms.

It can snow or rain any time of year in Rocky Mountain National Park, so make sure to come prepared with warm clothing and rain gear!

Things to Know Before You Go to Rocky Mountain National Park

Start your trip early.

It’s best to start your day early when heading to Rocky Mountain National Park. The traffic can be quite heavy during peak season and you won’t want to waste time stuck in it! You’ll also want prime parking spots when you arrive!

Plus, the mornings are lighter and there are usually fewer people on the trails.

Entrance Fees

The entrance fee for one day in Rocky Mountain National Park is $30 per vehicle or $35 for a 7-day pass.

The America the Beautiful National Park Pass also allows you to enter the park for free.

Pack a Lunch and Snacks

One of the only places to eat in Rocky Mountain National Park is at the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road.

Because of this, it’s best to pack your lunch and snacks ahead of time to enjoy in the middle of your one day in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you missed packing a lunch ahead of time, you can stop at the Safeway in Estes Park just before entering the park!

I recommend eating a snack at Alberta Falls and then sitting down for lunch at one of the lakes! You’ll have stunning views as you fuel up for the hike back!

Safety Tips for Rocky Mountain National Park One Day Itinerary

paf and friend at mills lake

Stay Hydrated

The higher elevations of RMNP can take their toll on you if you aren’t prepared. Make sure to bring plenty of water with you and stay hydrated.

Drinking plenty of water will also help to prevent altitude sickness!

Colorado is known for its high altitude, and Rocky Mountain National Park is no exception. Most of the park sits above 8,000 feet – and Long’s Peak goes up to 14,255 ft!

Be sure to acclimate properly before visiting the park and drink plenty of water while you’re there to prevent mountain sickness. You’ll want to spend at least 2 days in Colorado before visiting the park and starting your hiking adventures!

Changing Weather & Afternoon Storms

The weather in Rocky Mountain National Park can change quickly, so be sure to come prepared with warm clothing and rain gear.

Afternoon thunderstorms are common during the summer months in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s typically recommended to be back below the treeline by 1 PM or earlier. This is why it’s important to start your day early in RMNP!

Leave No Trace

Rocky Mountain National Park is a remote area full of fragile ecosystems. Make sure to always practice Leave No Trace ethics when visiting the park.

That means packing out what you pack in, leaving no trace on the trails, and never disturbing wildlife or damaging plants. You also don’t want to be feeding the wildlife in the park, especially those adorable little chipmunks!

Stay On the Trails

It’s important to stay on designated trails in Rocky Mountain National Park for your safety, to preserve the fragile ecosystem, and to prevent erosion.

Do not try to venture off-trail, even if it looks like a shortcut!

Also, keep in mind that on some of the higher trails, like when heading to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake, you’ll still see snow on the trails. It could get wet and muddy so watch your step!

What to Pack for a Rocky Mountain National Park One Day Itinerary

For one day in Rocky Mountain National Park, there are a few essential items that you should pack!

paf and friend in alberta falls

🥾 Wear sturdy hiking boots for the trails at Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s called “rocky mountains” for a reason–it can be rocky! Make sure that you have some shoes to protect your toes and ankles while hiking in this stunning national park!

🎒 A day bag to keep all your personal belongings, layers of clothing you’ll most likely take off, and snacks you’ll be packing.

👚 Layer up your clothing to prepare for the weather. You’ll want at least 3 layers early in the morning, including an athletic sweater like this . As the day goes on, the sun and hiking will warm you up but you’ll want to be prepared for any kind of weather.

🚰 Bring plenty of water and snacks. It’s important to stay hydrated and refuel along the trails!

☀️ Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen , a hat , and sunglasses . You are closer to the sun being higher up, so it’s much easier to get a sunburn, even though the sun might be hiding behind rain clouds.

🗺️ You’ll get a map when you enter the park at the ranger station. Be sure to read the map to get around on the shuttles and the hikes.

💡 Headlamp or flashlight for stargazing after the sun goes down.

With these items in tow, you’re ready to explore one day in Rocky Mountain National Park! Enjoy your unforgettable experience!

Where to Eat in Rocky Mountain National Park

The only restaurant within Rocky Mountain National Park is the Cafe at Trail Ridge in the Alpine Ridge Visitor Center. They’re open from 8 AM-4:30 PM starting in June and offer sandwiches.

For lunch, I recommend packing your own meal to enjoy in the middle of your day hike. If you missed packing your lunch, you can also leave the park and get something to eat in Estes Park, then return to RMNP.

Here are few restaurant options in Estes Park:

  • Mama Rose’s Restaurant
  • Smokin’ Daves
  • Ed’s Cantina & Grill
  • Bird & Jim
  • Claire’s Restaurant and Bar
  • Bighorn Restaurant
  • The Post Chicken & Beer
  • The Wild Rose Restaurant

Where to Stay in Rocky Mountain National Park

If there is a chance that you’ll be staying the night in Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll need to book a hotel in Estes Park which is the closest town to the Beaver Meadows Entrance.

Here are some of the best accommodation options in Estes Park.

Blue Door Inn

Blue Door Inn (Budget Stay)

Staying at the Blue Door Inn in Estes Park is a great way to experience all that Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer. Located near the Beaver Meadows Entrance, it’s the perfect spot for an outdoor adventure and a chance to see some of nature’s most majestic landscapes.

The rooms at Blue Door Inn are clean and comfortable, and the staff is friendly and helpful. The price is also very reasonable, and breakfast is included!

>> Check Best Prices for the Blue Door Inn! <<

Hotel Estes (Mid-Range Stay)

Hotel Estes is a mid-range accommodation option for travelers visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Located near the Beaver Meadows Entrance, it’s conveniently situated close to all the outdoor activities RMNP has to offer.

The rooms are set up similarly to condos. They are spacious, clean, and comfortable with amenities like free Wi-Fi, a coffee maker, a microwave, and a fridge. Breakfast is also included in your stay at Hotel Estes!

>> Check Best Prices for Hotel Estes! <<

FAQs: Rocky Mountain National Park One Day Itinerary

Is one day enough for rocky mountain national park.

One day in Rocky Mountain National Park is enough time to see all the highlights even though you can spend several days exploring the trails, meadows, and wildlife.

What should you not miss at Rocky Mountain National Park?

Some of the must-see areas in RMNP are Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake, and Alberta Falls. These areas offer stunning views of the park’s mountains and forests.

Personally, I think you shouldn’t miss out on visiting Dream Lake or Nymph Lake.

Can you just drive through Rocky Mountain National Park?

Yes, you can just drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake will take you anywhere from 1.5 – 3 hours, depending on how long you stop on the way.

Keep in mind that you’ll still need to pay the entrance fee to enter Rocky Mountain National Park.

Should I rent a car from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park?

Yes, renting a car from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park is a great option. It’ll give you the freedom and flexibility to explore RMNP at your own pace, without having to stick to a schedule.

Which is better Grand Lake or Estes Park?

It really depends on what type of experience you’re looking for. Estes Park is a great base if you’re looking to explore Rocky Mountain National Park and its trails. This is also a hotspot for visitors coming to Colorado as well, so you’ll find higher crowds in Estes Park vs Grand Lake.

Grand Lake is the perfect spot for those looking for a bit of adventure, with activities like whitewater rafting and kayaking. It’s also quieter than Estes Park because there are fewer travelers to Grand Lake.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. Both towns are beautiful and offer their own unique experiences.

trails in RMNP

Final Thoughts: Rocky Mountain National Park One Day Itinerary

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park in one day is absolutely doable. While you won’t be able to explore the whole park, it’s still possible to see all the highlights of the park and get an overall sense of what RMNP has to offer!

🚙 I highly recommend going through Discover Rental Cars to book your rental car as they have the best prices for Colorado!

Ready to head out to Colorado? Check out my list of essential must-haves for outdoor adventures!

Read more related content:

  • 17 Amazing Day Hikes in Denver
  • 27 Adventurous to do Near Denver
  • 11 Easy Hikes Near Asheville, North Carolina
  • International Balloon Fiesta Guide in Albuquerque
  • Monterey and Big Sur Itinerary: Plan the Perfect Road Trip

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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources

Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page .

  • Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
  • For hotels, I go through Booking.com or book directly with Marriott (for points + rewards).
  • When I travel internationally, I’ll book through Hostelworld for very budget-friendly stays.
  • For vacation rentals, use Vrbo or Marriott Homes & Villas .
  • Expedia also has some great bundles for hotels, flights, and car rentals altogether.
  • Car Rentals: I love renting cars through Discover Cars . They have been consistent and provide the best customer service.
  • Trains in Asia: Trip.com has the best options!
  • Trains in Europe: Trainline or Omio .
  • Visa Application: For a hassle-free process, apply for your visa from iVisa .
  • Travel Credit Card: I book all my travel (flights, hotels, car rentals) through Chase Sapphire .
  • Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
  • Tours + Experiences: I absolutely love my tours! Everything from eerie walking ghost tours to food tours, I’ll usually book something every trip either through Viator or GetYourGuide .
  • Entertainment: Looking for entertainment like sporting events, theater shows, or concerts? Book with Ticket Squeeze !
  • Tech : Keep your internet browsing safe, secure, and fast with ExpressVPN
  • Language Learning: The best place to learn a new language is through Babbel as you travel to countries you don’t know the language.
  • What to Pack: I almost always travel by backpack . For products I like, check out my packing guide page for all the things I take with me on different trips.

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Pafoua is the author and creator of Her Wanderful World. Pafoua writes from her numerous excursions about all things travel, from fun itineraries to creating memorable experiences on the road. When she’s not traveling, Pafoua loves a fun board game night with her friends or is snuggled up reading a good book. You can find her on Instagram @herwanderfulworld.

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Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary (Ideas for 1 to 5 Days)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: May 11, 2023

Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary (Ideas for 1 to 5 Days)

Traveling to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and wondering what are the main highlights of the park, how much time you need to visit it, and what’s the best RMNP itinerary to follow? This article should help you plan a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Find out!

Rocky Mountain NP is one of the most visited National Parks in America . So planning a trip requires some advance preparation! We visited Rocky Mountain NP during our recent road trip in the US , and back in my student years I spent the whole summer in Estes Park, hiking and exploring the park every time I got the chance. But that was so long ago… 

So in order to give you the best possible information and up-to-date advice, I asked a Colorado local for the best suggestions for a Rocky Mountain itinerary .

Our guest writer Meg from Fox in the Forest lives just a short drive away from the Rocky Mountain NP and knows the park inside out. In this post, she is sharing her experience-based suggestions and Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary ideas for one to five days . Find out!

Rocky Mountain NP itinerary suggestions

Planning the perfect trip to Rocky Mountain National Park might look overwhelming at first. But these insider tips will help you get the most of your trip to the Rocky Mountain NP in Colorado, no matter how much time you have, and in which season you visit.

In this post we will dive into suggested itineraries for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 days in Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas. For each itinerary I included several hiking options, so that you can enjoy the best of what RMNP has to offer, no matter your interests or physical condition.

To make your trip planning easier, I also included some practical tips for visiting Rocky Mountain NP . Read on!

Sunrise on Trail Ridge Road in RMNP Colorado

Practical tips for visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

Many people visit Rocky Mountain National Park each year without proper background information on how to make the most of their time in the park. Below are a few quick tips to help you stay in the know.

Altitude . Keep in mind that the altitude here is real, with the highest point in Rocky Mountain being Longs Peak at 14,259’ (4,346 m). Your first day in the Rockies should be spent acclimatizing and taking it slow. Be sure to drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol (at least for the first couple of days). As always with the altitude, listen to your body.

Leave no trace.  Every time you head into nature, always be sure to follow the principles of Leave No Trace . In essence, don’t feed the animals, let wildlife be wild (every year, people get attacked by wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park from getting too close to the animals), pick up your trash – including biodegradable items, and stay on the trail. These items are important in preserving the beauty and wonder of the park.

The weather. Remember that the weather changes quickly in Colorado, especially in the Rocky Mountains. Check the weather forecast daily and adjust your plans accordingly to make the most of your time in RMNP.

Afternoon storms. Rocky Mountain National Park is well known for its summer afternoon storms. Try to start all your longer hikes early, so that you are back below the tree line before noon.

Timed entry permit system. Rocky Mountain National Park works with a timed-entry permit system in the high season (between the end of May and mid-October). Be sure to check the official website for up-to-date information.

Entrance fee. Rocky Mountain NP entrance fee is 25 USD for a day ticket or 35 USD for 7 days. The price is per private vehicle. However, if you are planning to visit several National Parks, it’s better to get  America the Beautiful Pass.  It costs 80 USD for the whole family traveling in the same vehicle and is valid in all National Parks and 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States for one year from the month of purchase.

Tours. If you want to see the highlights of the Rocky Mountain National Park without having to worry about practicalities or plan much, you can also opt for one of the many tours to the park. There are various options including summer and winter tours, sightseeing, hiking, wildlife, etc. Most day tours depart from Denver or Boulder, but there are many other options, also from Estes Park. You can find some of the best tours here .

Best place to stay. Keep in mind that there are two ways in and out of the park: Estes Park side and the Grand Lake side. These suggested Rocky Mountain NP itineraries assume that you are based in Estes Park, accessing the park from the eastern side. This is the better option since many of the most popular hiking trails are found on the east side of the park. Also, there are many more  accommodation options in Estes Park than in  Grand Lake .

LEARN MORE: Best Rocky Mountain National Park Hotels

Wildlife of Rocky Mountain National Park - moose along the west side of the park

Before we continue with the suggested Rocky Mountain itinerary, let’s address two most important questions: how many days do you need to see Rocky Mountain National Park and when is the best time to go .

When is the best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in the United States, with 4.5 million visitors each year. This means that the summer months are extremely busy (but beautiful with the wildflowers!). Trails are often crowded, overnight permits and campsites fill months in advance, and sometimes you’ll need to be bussed into trailheads.

Fall is also busy, as the turning leaves make for stunning mountain scenery.

RMNP is also open during the winter , although Trail Ridge Road is then closed, cutting off the east and west sides of the park. However, winter is the season when there are the least amount of people, and you can still enjoy some amazing activities and fantastic scenery.

Rocky Mountain National Park is beautiful in winter as well - picture of frozen Lake Haiyaha

Spring is often snowy and wet, with some areas of the park seeing snow year-round.

So when is the best time to go? Any time of year is perfect for a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, it really depends on what you would like to do and see. The most popular time to visit RMNP is from June to September ; but end of May or end of September – beginning of October can be really nice too, and without the crowds.

TIP: If you travel in high season, my advice is to book accommodations well in advance and arrive at hiking trailheads very early in the morning.

Beautiful fall colours in the Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

How much time do you need in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Most people spend two to three days in Rocky Mountain National Park. However, there are a lot of options for hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, and other excursions near the park, so if you want to get deeper into the wilderness or tackle tougher trails, you’ll want more time.

If you are short on time, you can see the main highlights of Rocky Mountain NP and do some easy hiking in just one or two days. With just one day in the area, check out our 1-day itinerary for Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver , or you can also opt for an organized tour .

If you like hiking, I suggest spending 3-4 days in Rocky Mountain National Park and then if you have more time, explore the nearby attractions.

Read on for our Rocky Mountain NP itinerary suggestions for 1 to 5 days!

Fall colors along Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado USA

One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park

Even if you only have one day in Rocky Mountain National Park , you can still see quite a bit. This one-day itinerary for Rocky Mountain National Park is all about maximizing your mountain time, while properly adjusting to the altitude.

Most of the Rocky Mountain National Park hiking trails start around 7,800 feet (2,377 m) high, quite a bit of elevation for someone who is not properly acclimatized.

If you have just one day in Rocky Mountain NP , you should do one hike and drive the Trail Ridge Road, one of the most scenic mountain roads in the USA.

Note that driving the entire Trail Ridge Road with all the scenic stops will take the bigger part of your day, so it’s best not to choose the longest hike. Alternatively, start really early, make a longer hike, and then drive just a part of Trail Ridge Road.

My best tip for those who want to do any hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park is to start their day early. For the best sunrise spot in Rocky Mountain NP, head to Dream Lake – it will be well worth the early alarm.

This will put you at the Bear Lake trailhead parking area, the place to be if you are planning to go hiking in the Rocky Mountain NP. There is a wide variety of trails here for all skill levels. This parking lot fills fast, especially in summer, so plan to arrive around 6 am if you expect to get a spot during the busier months (otherwise you’ll need to be bussed in).

Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Bear Lake hiking area offers several hiking trails suited for any skill level:

  • Leisurely walk: Circumnavigate Bear Lake. 0.7 miles (1,1 km), 49 feet (15 m) elevation gain.
  • Best beginner hike in Rocky Mountain National Park: Emerald Lake . 3.1 miles (5 km). 700 feet (213 m) elevation gain.
  • Less known, but my personal favorite moderate hike in the Bear Lake Trailhead: Jewel Lake. 7.4 miles (12 km). 1,400 feet (426 m)of elevation gain. Take a 0.4-mile detour to Lake Haiyaha for an added bonus.
  • Best advanced hike in RMNP: Sky Pond. 8.1 miles (13 km). 1,765 feet (538 m) of altitude gain. Climb up a waterfall at the end of this difficult hike for stunning views of the Sky Pond Cirque.
  • Expert hike: Hallett Peak. 9.2 miles (14,8 km). 3,254 feet (990 m) of elevation gain. Be aware, this is a tough mountain climb. Take a GPS and be prepared for summer storms when above the treeline. Start early and be back below the treeline by noon to avoid storms.

Bear Lake is not to be missed in any Rocky Mountain itinerary

If you opted to embark on an easier hike, spend the remainder of the day driving through the park to the west side via Trail Ridge Road . You’ll get fantastic views with plenty of opportunities to pull over and view wildlife, mountain scenery and Longs Peak.

Make a stop along the Continental Divide  and make sure to enjoy the views at Many Parks Curve, Gore Range Overlook , and Forest Canyon Overlook .

Make sure to also stop at the Alpine Visitor Centre – a short hike on the Alpine Ridge Trail brings you to 12,000 ft (3658 m).  It’s definitely the easiest way to get to this kind of altitude in the Rocky Mountain NP, but be prepared that even a short walk here will literally leave you breathless. Make sure to take some water and a sweater or a jacket.

Note: Trail Ridge Road closes in the winter, just past the Many Parks Overlook. Check with the ranger station or online for current road conditions .

1 day Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary:

  • Sunrise at Dream Lake
  • Hike at Bear Lake area
  • Trail Ridge Road: Continental Divide, Many Parks Curve, Gore Range Overlook, Forest Canyon Overlook, Alpine Visitor Center.
  • Back in Estes Park or Grand Lake

TIP:   If you are short on time, don’t care about hiking, and just want to see the highlights of Rocky Mountain NP in one day, consider this highly-rated small-group tour from Denver or Boulder .

If you want to hike, then take a look at this popular tour that includes a beautiful 4-mile hike . Both these tours run the whole year round. The hiking tour is a snowshoe tour in winter.

There are also seasonal tours with itineraries specifically tailored for winter and spring travel.

There is also a very popular half-day tour available for those short on time. Or you can opt for a highly-rated private tour – ideal for those who want to see the best of the Colorado Rockies with a private local guide. Check it out!

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park Road in the US

Two days itinerary for Rocky Mountain National Park

If you have two days in Rocky Mountain National Park , start out by hitting some mellow highlights of the park in order to acclimatize on the first day. Then the following day take a hike to some more advanced terrain.

2 days Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary:

Day 1.  Similar suggestions as in the one-day itinerary above. Do one hike at the Bear Lake Trail Area: Emerald Lake, Lake Haiyaha, or Jewel Lake. In the afternoon, drive Trail Ridge Road.

Day 2. Choose one of the easier hikes like Copeland Falls or Coyote Valley Trail. If you are looking for a bigger challenge, consider these intermediate-level hikes : Loch Lake Trail or Chasm Lake. For some serious hiking head to the earlier mentioned Hallet Peak or Sky Pond ( advanced ) or an epic Longs Peak hike ( expert ).

TIP: Longs Peak hike is an expert-level hike that requires class 3 scrambling. You need to have a high level of mountain experience to tackle this 15-mile (4,881 feet of elevation) climb. Also, you need to acclimatize before attempting a hike like that, so don’t do it if you are only visiting Rocky Mountain NP for just one day. 

If you climb Longs Peak, you can do so with a guide up one of the more technical routes. This would take an extra day (it requires an overnight stay).

Lake of Glass and Sky Pond iconic trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

How to spend three days in Rocky Mountain National Park

There are many ways to spend 3 days in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you follow the hiking suggestions from one or two day itineraries, you can easily fill the whole week…

However, I suggest that a three-day Rocky Mountain NP itinerary should include a few other activities, not just hiking. For example, why not try some rock climbing. This adrenaline-pumping activity is very popular with the locals. Alternatively, try a more relaxed option and visit an adventure park.

3 days Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary:

Days 1 & 2 same as in the two-day itinerary above.

Day 3.  Try some rock climbing or visit an adventure park (a more family-friendly option). Experienced climbers can find a variety of world-class climbing routes, from sport, alpine, bouldering and trad. For novices and newbies, consider hiring a climbing guide or joining a class. There are many local companies offering these services.

If climbing is too committing, consider checking out the Open Air Adventure Park in nearby Estes Park for a few hours of high-flying fun. Zip-lining is also available in Conifer, closer to Denver.

TIP: If you are tired of hiking the previous days (especially if you opt for more strenuous hikes), rock climbing might not be something you want to tackle. In that case, you can also opt to spend your third day relaxing in the nearby Estes Park.

Alternatively, head out on a leisurely hike. For example, Sprague Lake is a nice easy wheelchair-accessible walk that features views of Flattop Mountain and Hallet Peak.

For more suggestions, please check some of the earlier mentioned easier hikes in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Four days in Rocky Mountain National Park

If you have four days in Rocky Mountain NP , I recommend spending your last day exploring the lesser-trafficked west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The trails are still beautiful but without the crowds.

4 days Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary:

Days 1, 2, and 3 – same as above.

Day 4.  As mentioned, why not get a bit off the beaten path and hike some less-known trails of the Rocky Mountain NP. Here are some suggestions:

  • Beginner trail: Irene Lake.
  • Intermediate: Chapin Pass Trail to Mount Chapin or Cub Lake trail (simply beautiful!).
  • Advanced hike: Ridge traverse from Chapin, Chiquita to Ypsilon.

TIP: If you’re over hiking by now, you can enjoy some of the numerous activities in Estes Park . Go on a guided fly-fishing trip, an ATV excursion, or hit the rapids on a whitewater rafting tour. Please note that all these activities are seasonal, so be sure to check what is available when you plan to visit.

Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain NP Colorado

Five days in Rocky Mountain National Park

If you have 5 days in Rocky Mountain National Park and have done enough hiking, I recommend heading to the west side of the park and spending a day in Grand Lake.

So for your 5-day Rocky Mountain itinerary follow the suggestions from the 1-4 day itineraries above and then add one day relaxing by the water at Grand Lake.

Grand Lake is a perfect place to spend a warm summer’s day. You can swim, rent a boat, kayak, etc. Stand-up paddleboard rentals are also available.

Grand Lake near Rocky Mountain NP in Colorado

Suggestion for outdoor enthusiasts. If you have more time in the Rocky Mountain National Park in summer, why not embark on a real adventure. You can opt for a multi-day hiking trip in the Rocky Mountain NP – the perfect way to see some incredible scenery and escape the crowds.

If you have more time in Colorado and are looking to do even more hiking, check this list of the best hikes in Colorado for more inspiration.

READ ALSO: Maroon Bells & Crater Lake Trail – One of the most beautiful mountain destinations in Colorado!

Big horn sheep in Rocky Mountain NP Colorado in summer

So, these are my itinerary suggestions for Rocky Mountain National Park. All of these itineraries offer something for every type of traveler. I hope that this will help you plan your trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and experience the dramatic beauty of the Colorado Rockies.

It doesn’t matter when you visit, or for how long, Rocky Mountain National Park offers plenty of sights and activities to keep you busy and entertained. So use these itinerary suggestions to create your own perfect Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary and have a wonderful time in Colorado!

About the Author:  Meg is a full-time freelance writer, photographer, and digital marketing specialist. She’s called Colorado home for nearly a decade and specializes in outdoor adventures. As a climber, mountaineer, and avid backpacker, her goal is to empower others to get outside and have an adventure. You can find plenty of outdoor travel tips, tricks, and itineraries on her website Fox in the Forest .

TIP: Planning a trip to the Rocky Mountain NP? Make sure to also read our guide to Rocky Mountain National Park hotels ! It covers all the best places to stay in the area with tips on where to stay and why. Check it out!

READ ALSO: What to See & Do in Aspen, CO

More travel inspiration for beautiful nature destinations in the U.S.:

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  • Grand Canyon in one day
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Where to go when:

  • Best National Parks to visit in September
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Rocky Mountain itinerary suggestions from one to five days

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Friday 14th of April 2023

This is EXACTLY the kind of information I needed! Very informative, even in the comments section!

Sunday 16th of April 2023

Glad to help, Kyla. Have a great trip!

Sunday 19th of July 2020

Thanks for all of the useful information!

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

Glad you found this useful, Nancy. Enjoy the Rockies!

Lynnette Gibson

Friday 17th of July 2020

You have Jewel Lake listed as a moderate hike on Day 1. You mention doing Lake Haiyaha as a side trip. You say it would be an additional .4 miles. It would be an additional 2.4 miles! Haiyaha is 1.2 miles from Glacier Gorge Junction.

Hi Lynnette, thanks for this info. This article is written by a guest writer who knows the area very well. I think she meant that Lake Haiyaha is a short side trip from the path one would take via the Glacier Gorge Trail (see the map - it's 0,2 miles each way from there). So making it a round trip and not returning back, but continuing in the direction of Dream Lake and back that way. So it's 0,4 miles for that very last part where you'd turn off to Lake Haiyaha. It's always a bit tricky to write about hikes as there are so many possibilities, turn-offs, etc.

Heather Burgette

Thursday 14th of May 2020

Wow this might be the best resource I've found so far!! Thank you! We have 4 kids, ages 8-2 so the beginner, shorter hikes are great for us. We plan on being there 3-4 nights. Our plan is to rent an RV there and have it delivered to our campsite. Any suggestions on campgrounds that would be great for that option? There are so many choices.

Friday 15th of May 2020

Hi Heather, glad you found this useful. Unfortunately, I have no experience with camping the Rocky Mountain National Park. If you don't have your own RV anyway, why not just stay at a nice cabin close to the entrance of the NP. For example, something like this or this. You can also find some hotel suggestions in this article with the best hotels in Rocky Mountain National Park. Sorry that I can't help you more. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

Sunday 23rd of February 2020

Hello Jurga

My name is Jeff and my wife and I are taking a trip the end of May 2020 to the Rocky Mountain NP. We are only gonna spend one day at the park and we will come in from the East and go through to the west on a bike. {motorcycle}. Can you help us see the sights for a day? We don’t want to hike, we are wanting to see a few places that we can get off and walk to but not to far. Is there such a thing lol? Hope you can help us? Thank you Jeff

Friday 28th of February 2020

Hi Jeff, if you don't want to hike far, just drive the Trail Ridge Road. There are many stops along that road with nice viewpoints, etc. That's one of the nicest things you can do in the park. Just one thing - I'm not sure if the road will already be open at the end of May. It depends on how hard the winter is, I suppose. Some years, it opens mid-May, but there have been years when it only opened in the first week of June...

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The Perfect Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary (2024)

Julie Last updated: January 25, 2024 United States 70 Comments

Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary Guide

If you are planning your Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary, this is a great place to start.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best US national parks to go hiking. With towering mountain peaks, alpine lakes and waterfalls, and the opportunity to hike along the Continental Divide, this park offers world-class hiking experiences. If you are an avid hiker, plan on spending at least three to five days in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park also offers a lot to do for those who aren’t big fans of hiking. Drive one of the highest roads in the USA, spot wildlife, walk the easier trails around scenic lakes and waterfalls, and be amazed at the beauty here.

We have visited Rocky Mountain National Park several times in the past. Most recently, in 2020, we spent one very busy week here, and learned a lot about this park.

In this post, get all of the information you need to plan your Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary. This includes the best hikes, the best experiences, how to get around, and where to stay.

Table of Contents

About this Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

This itinerary is best from Memorial Day through mid-October, when Trail Ridge Road is open.

You can visit Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) all year, but sections of the park close once the snow begins to fall. In order to see and do everything we list in this itinerary, plan on visiting the park when everything is open.

With that being said, you should know that crowds are the largest during the summer months, especially July and August. They can linger into September, when fall colors continue to attract visitors and hikers. In 2022, RMNP was the fourth most visited park in the USA, receiving 4.3 million visitors.

While in Rocky Mountain National Park, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trails, pack out what you bring to the hiking trails, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

A Quick Geography Lesson

Rocky Mountain National Park is a relatively large park, with a total area of 415 square miles. Running north to south through the park is the Continental Divide and the highest mountain peaks.

Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved continuous road in the United States, cuts through the park from the east to the west. The Mummy Mountain Range, Lumpy Ridge, and several hiking trails sit to the north of Trail Ridge Road. The larger portion of the park sits to the south of Trail Ridge Road. The Continental Divide Trail connects some of the tallest peaks, such as Mount Ida, Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak, Isolation Peak, and many more.

Bear Lake Road runs into the heart of the park. From here, you can park at the trailheads and hike some of the best trails in RMNP, like Emerald and Dream Lakes, Alberta Falls, Sky Pond, Mills Lake, and Hallett Peak.

Longs Peak is the highest mountain in the park, and the only fourteener in Rocky Mountain National Park. For hikers, it’s the ultimate adventure.

Estes Park sits to the east of the park. With its large collection of hotels and restaurants, this is a great place to stay when you visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Grand Lake sits to the southwest of RMNP and it is another place you can consider staying, but it will be a longer drive to most sites in the park. 

Map of RMNP

Map courtesy of the National Park Service.

How Many Days Do You Need in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Due to its large size and long list of noteworthy hikes, you need several days to explore Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ideally, plan on spending at least three days in Rocky Mountain National Park . This gives you enough time to drive Alpine Ridge Road, Old Fall River Road, and hike a few of the trails.

If you are an avid hiker, I recommend spending five or more days in Rocky Mountain National Park. This gives you enough time to acclimate to the higher elevation (very important if you live at a low elevation) before tackling some of the higher, tougher hikes (such as Mount Ida, Hallett Peak, or Longs Peak).

We spent one wonderful week in Rocky Mountain National Park in July. One week was perfect for us. This gave us enough time to hike at least one trail every day, with contingency time for bad weather. But even with a week here, there are still a lot of hikes left on our to-do list.

Lake of Glass

Lake of Glass, seen on the hike to Sky Pond

Important Things to Know Before You Plan Your Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Timed entry system.

To visit Rocky Mountain National Park from May 24 to October 20, 2024, you will need to reserve a permit in advance.

This has been implemented to limit crowds at the busiest sections of the park during the peak visitation season (the summer months). If you do not have a reservation, you will not be allowed to enter the park. Reservations are made online on the recreation.gov website. Each daily reservation costs $2 per vehicle, which is in addition to the $25 daily entrance fee or $35 weekly fee per vehicle. Learn more on the official National Park Service website. Or visit recreation.gov to make your reservation.

There are two ticket types: Park Access + and Park Access.

Park Access +:  This permit gives you access to everything in Rocky Mountain National Park. It includes Bear Lake Road and the hikes that start here (Bear Lake, Emerald and Dream Lakes, Alberta Falls, Sky Pond, Hallett Peak, and Sprague Lake). The permit is in effect from 5 am to 6 pm.

Park Access: This permit gives you access to everything in Rocky Mountain National Park except for Bear Lake Road. You can drive Trail Ridge Road, visit the Alpine Visitor Center, hike to Longs Peak and to Chasm Lake, and hike Gem Lake. The permit is in effect from 9 am to 2 pm. 

Elevation of Rocky Mountain National Park

This is one of the highest national parks in the USA. The elevation of the lowest sections of the park range from 5,600 to 9,500 feet. If you are coming from sea level, you will feel the effects of the altitude as soon as you do anything strenuous. At this elevation, it’s not enough to cause altitude sickness, but you will tire and get out of breath easily.

Many hikes top out over 9,000 feet, with some reaching up to 13,000 and 14,000 feet. If you are coming from a lower elevation and plan to hike to these taller peaks, you will need to spend a few days in the park, acclimating to the higher elevation, before you tackle these hikes.

Hike RMNP

The Continental Divide Trail to Mount Ida. Most of this hike is over 11,000 feet, in the alpine tundra, so it’s best to save this hike for when you are acclimated to the altitude.

Afternoon Thunderstorms

During the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms are very common. Clouds start moving in around noon with the storms occurring almost like clockwork between 1 and 3 pm. By 4 to 5 pm, the skies begin to clear.

Thunderstorms don’t happen every single day, but it is something that you need to plan for. If you plan to go hiking during July and August, you will have to assume that there will be a 2 pm thunderstorm.

To stay safe, start your hike early in the day so that you are finished, or at least below the tree line, by 1 pm. The longer and harder the hike, the earlier you will have to start. For Longs Peak, that means starting by 3 or 4 am.

In this Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary, many of days end by the early afternoon, because of these storms. If the skies stay clear, you can stay in the park and do more exploring. But more often than not, in the summer, afternoon storms will occur.

Parking at the Trailheads

Parking at the most popular trailheads fill up extremely early in the day.

Glacier Gorge parking lot and Longs Peak trailhead parking lot fill before sunrise. The parking lot at the end of Bear Lake Road is large but from here, you have access to numerous popular trails in RMNP, so it also fills fast. Get here by 7:30 am if you want a spot.

During the busy summer months, a free shuttle service is provided by the national park service. These shuttle buses connect Moraine Park and Bear Lake, with numerous stops in between. Learn more on the National Park Service website. 

Snow on the Trails

Snow can linger on the trails as late as July, especially for the trails at higher elevations. I recommend wearing waterproof hiking shoes or boots (not running or walking shoes) so that you have good traction. Hiking poles can help you keep your balance in the snow. If you plan to visit RMNP early in the summer, there is a good chance that you will encounter snow on some trails.

Also, it can snow every month of the year in Rocky Mountain National Park. In July, we hiked through a snowstorm on the way back from Sky Pond. 

Snow in July

Snow on the trail in July (hiking to Fern and Odessa Lakes from Bear Lake).

Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

One day in rocky mountain national park.

If you only have one day in Rocky Mountain National Park, it will be a busy day. Keep your fingers crossed for clear afternoon skies.

With one day, I recommend going on a hike, starting at Bear Lake, and driving Trail Ridge Road (it’s awesome!). You will need a Bear Lake Road Corridor + Full Park Access Timed Entry Ticket (Park Access +)  for this day.

Morning: Hike from Bear Lake Trailhead

Park at Bear Lake Trailhead. If you are coming from Estes Park, this drive takes 30 minutes. I recommend getting here early (ideally by 7:30 am) to make sure you get a parking space and to give yourself plenty of time today.

There are a lot of hikes that start at the Bear Lake Trailhead. I recommend the shorter, easier hikes if you are not acclimated to the altitude, aren’t a big fan of hiking, and/or have more than one day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bear Lake: 0.6 miles, easy, 30 minutes. This is a must-do in Rocky Mountain National Park. Only 0.6 miles round trip, this flat, easy trail circles around Bear Lake.

Bear Lake

Bear Lake with Longs Peak and the Keyboard of the Winds in the background.

Alberta Falls: 2 miles, easy, 1 to 1.5 hours. Hike to one of the most popular waterfalls in RMNP. Note: It’s a slightly shorter hike (1.7 miles) if you park at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. If you plan to hike Sky Pond, Mills Lake, or Black Lake later in this itinerary, you will pass Alberta Falls, so there is no need to hike to it today.

Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes: 3.6 miles, easy to moderate, 2 to 3 hours. This is the hike that I recommend for today. This family friendly hike is a great intro to hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. With its short distance and manageable elevation gain, it is a great first hike in the park, as you acclimate to the higher elevation.

Dream Lake

Dream Lake | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Nymph, Dream, Emerald & Bear Lakes: 4.2 miles, easy to moderate, 3 hours. Combine two of the above hikes into one great experience.

Nymph, Dream, Emerald, Haiyaha and Bear Lake: 6.2 miles, moderate, 4 to 5 hours. See five lakes in one hike. This hike adds on Lake Haiyaha, another very pretty alpine lake. Few people hike out this far so this is a great place to leave the crowds behind.

Odessa and Fern Lakes, Mills and Black Lake, Sky Pond, and Hallett Peak can all be hiked from this trailhead. However, I only recommend doing this if you are acclimated to the altitude, since these are strenuous hikes with big ascents.

Lake Haiyaha

Lake Haiyaha | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

You can learn more about all of these hikes on our post 15 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Afternoon: Trail Ridge Road

Once you are finished hiking, hop back into your car. It’s time for an amazing scenic drive in RMNP. From Bear Lake Road, turn left onto Highway 36 and continue on Trail Ridge Road.

Trail Ridge Road is 48 miles long, connecting Estes Park to Grand Lake. Eleven miles of this road is in the alpine tundra, which is over 11,000 feet. Alpine Ridge Road reaches its highest point at 12,183 feet. This is the highest continuous paved road in the United States.

This is a gorgeous drive. Along the way, there is a good chance that you will spot bighorn sheep and elk. The views from the overlooks are stunning. Don’t miss Forest Canyon Overlook, one of the best on the drive.

Forest Canyon Overlook Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

Forest Canyon Overlook | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Rainbow Curve Overlook

Rainbow Curve Overlook | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Stop at Alpine Visitor Center, the highest visitor center in the US national parks.

From here, hike the Alpine Ridge Trail. It’s a very short hike (just over a half-mile round trip), but it will literally take your breath away. This hike starts just under 12,000 feet of elevation and it is a stair climb to the top. If you are not acclimated to the higher elevation, it is normal to get out of breath easily.

This is an essential hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. So, climb those stairs, catch your breath if you need to, and enjoy the awesome views from the top. You’ll be glad you did.

Alpine Ridge Trail

View from the Alpine Ridge Trail | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Past the Alpine Visitor Center, you can continue on Alpine Ridge Road and go all of the way to Grand Lake, if you like. For those with an interest in historical sites, make sure you visit the Holzwarth Historical Site and learn more about the life of Colorado homesteaders.

For full details on how to spend one day in Rocky Mountain National Park, read our post One Perfect Day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Two Day Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Morning: Hike Nymph, Dream, Emerald, and Bear Lakes from the Bear Lake Trailhead Afternoon: Trail Ridge Road (if the weather is clear)

Timed Entry Ticket: Bear Lake Road Corridor + Full Park Access

Timed Entry Ticket: Park Access (excludes Bear Lake Road Corridor) is sufficient unless you choose to hike to Fern and Odessa Lakes.

If you had afternoon thunderstorms on Day One, drive Trail Ridge Road in the morning. Visit the Alpine Visitor Center, hike Alpine Ridge Trail, and consider driving down to Grand Lake, visiting the Holzwarth Historic Site on the way. On the return drive, hike the Ute Trail to Tombstone Ridge. This easy hike offers spectacular views of Rocky Mountain National Park and it is great for all ages and ability levels. It is our favorite short hike in the park.

If the weather was clear yesterday, and you drove Trail Ridge Road, I recommend doing another hike this morning. On day two, as you are still acclimating to the altitude, I recommend one of these hikes:

Deer Mountain. 6.2 miles, moderate, 3 to 4 hours. This is a great hike for newbie hikers who want to summit a mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. From the summit you have a great view over Moraine Park and Longs Peak.

Deer Mountain Hike

View from the summit of Deer Mountain

Gem Lake. 3.4 miles, moderate, 2 to 3 hours. This short, strenuous hike offers sweeping views over Estes Park and out to Longs Peak and it ends at a very pretty alpine lake.

Gem Lake Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

Gem Lake | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Odessa and Fern Lakes. 7.5 to 10 miles, depending on the route you choose. If you are looking for a relatively uncrowded trail with the chance to visit multiple alpine lakes, this is a nice hike to consider. You can either hike to Fern Lakes and Odessa Lake as a point-to-point hike, starting at Bear Lake and ending at Moraine Park (or vice versa). You can also hike to Fern Lake out-and-back from either Bear Lake or Moraine Park.

Fern Lake

Fern Lake | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Spend the afternoon and evening exploring Estes Park.

Rocky Mountain NP Travel Guide

Three Day Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Day one & day two.

Follow the Two Day Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary.

Most people will be acclimated by this point, which means that you can hike almost any trail in the park. However, if Longs Peak is on your list, I recommend waiting one more day if you come from sea level. Also, if Longs Peak is on your list, watch the weather report for your visit. I recommend hiking Longs Peak on the day with the clearest weather. Ideally, you want a day with crystal clear skies and no chance of rain.

If you are an avid hiker, you are probably ready to hike some of the longer, tougher, more thrilling hikes in the park. Here are several to choose from.

Timed Entry Ticket: You will need a Bear Lake Road Corridor + Full Park Access permit (Park Access +) if you plan to hike Sky Pond, Hallett Peak, or Mills and Black Lake. You will need a Park Access (Excludes Bear Lake Road Corridor) permit if you plan to hike Chasm Lake or Mount Ida.

Sky Pond. 9.5 miles, strenuous, 4 to 6 hours. This is our favorite hike in RMNP. This hike has a little bit of everything…waterfalls, alpine lakes, high mountain views, and fun river and stream crossings. But the real reason for doing this is for the incredible view of Sky Pond, one of the most spectacular alpine lakes in the USA.

Sky Pond

Sky Pond | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Chasm Lake. 9 miles, strenuous, 4 to 6 hours. For the first part of this hike you will be sharing the trail with those on their way to Longs Peak. After the trail split, the hike gets easier and the views of Longs Peak and the alpine landscape is jaw-dropping. After one final short and strenuous climb you arrive at Chasm Lake.

Chasm Lake Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

Chasm Lake | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Mount Ida. 9.8 miles, strenuous, 4.5 to 6.5 hours. This hike is much different than many other hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. You spend very little time below the tree line, so the views are incredible for most of the hike. Plus, this is a lesser known hike, so the trail gets a lower number of hikers than other hikes on this list. This tough hike follows along the Continental Divide, starting at 10,800 feet and tops out at 12,899 feet on Mount Ida. You will really feel the effects of the altitude. And once at top…what a view.! This is another one of our favorite hikes.

Rocky Mountains

View from Mount Ida | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Flattop Mountain to Hallett Peak. 10.4 miles, strenuous, 6 to 8 hours. This hike starts at Bear Lake and summits Flattop Mountain before arriving at Hallett Peak. You are now standing at 12,718 feet, with 360° views, which makes this one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is a great warm-up for those who plan to hike Longs Peak.

Mills and Black Lake. 10 miles, moderate, 5 to 7 hours. Black Lake and Mills Lake are often labeled as two of the prettiest lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. You will hike past Alberta Falls, wind around lovely Mills Lake, and end at Black Lake. Black Lake looks similar to Chasm Lake, as both of these alpine lakes are surrounded by jagged mountain peaks.

Mills Lake Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

Mills Lake | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Four Day Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Day one, two & three.

Follow the three day Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary.

You have a choice today: take a break from hiking and explore Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, or hike another trail.

Option #1: Old Fall River Road and Estes Park

Old Fall River Road is an 11-mile long gravel road that runs one-way from Horseshoe Park (near Estes Park) and ends at the Alpine Visitor Center.

This road opened in 1920 at it was the first road that led into Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you like scenic drives and going off-the-beaten-path, you’ll love this drive. The scenery is beautiful, as you gradually twist and turn through the mountains to get to the Alpine Visitor Center. Along the way, it’s a quick stop to see Chasm Falls.

Old Fall River Road

Old Fall River Road | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Note: You do not need a 4×4 for this drive. The road is well-graded and suitable for standard cars. However, Old Fall River Road is only open during the summer months. Get updates on road conditions on the national park service website.  

From the Alpine Visitor Center, drive Alpine Ridge Road back to Estes Park. If you did not do it yet, you have the option to hike the short but sweet Ute Trail to Tombstone Ridge. Yes, I know, I said no hiking today, but I couldn’t resist adding this one in. 😊

Tyler Rivenbark

Tombstone Ridge | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Spend the rest of the day in Estes Park. There are many things to do here. Take a tour of the historic Stanley Hotel, ride the Aerial Tramway to the peak of Prospect Mountain, go shopping, walk the Riverwalk, visit Lake Estes, play mini-golf, or visit a winery or brewery. For a longer list, read our post about Estes Park.

A Park Access (Excludes Bear Lake Road Corridor) timed entry ticket is sufficient for this day. 

Lake Estes Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

Lake Estes | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Option #2: Go for a Hike

Hike one of the trails that I mentioned earlier in this itinerary, or click here to see our list of 15 great hikes to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

If the skies are clear, the weather forecast is favorable, and Longs Peak is on your bucket list, go for it today.

Five or More Days in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

If you have five or more days in Rocky Mountain National Park (lucky you!), you can spend the mornings hiking and the afternoons relaxing in Estes Park or wherever you might be staying.

We spent seven days in RMNP and every day we did at least one hike. It does get tiring, but these trails are so much fun and offer such a wide variety of views and experiences that it never gets monotonous or boring.

For five days or more, follow our four day itinerary and for each additional day that you have, add on another hike.

If you are an avid hiker, your itinerary will look something like this:

Day 1: Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes plus Trail Ridge Road and the Alpine Ridge Trail Day 2: Deer Mountain in the morning, Estes Park in the afternoon/evening Day 3: Sky Pond Day 4: Continental Divide Trail to Mount Ida Day 5: Longs Peak Day 6: Rest day from hiking (Old Fall River Road and activities in Estes Park) Day 7: Chasm Lake

If you have no desire to fill each day with a hike, your itinerary will look something like this:

Day 1: Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes plus Trail Ridge Road and the Alpine Ridge Trail Day 2: Gem Lake in the morning, Estes Park in the afternoon Day 3: Sky Pond Day 4: Old Fall River Road and Estes Park Day 5: Mills and Black Lakes Day 6: More activities in Estes Park Day 7: Deer Mountain

There are a million different ways to put together a Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary, and how you choose to do so really depends on your interests, the time of year you plan to visit the park, and the weather.

I think it’s a good idea to have a basic plan of what you want to do while at RMNP but be flexible. Watch the weather, enjoy the time you spend in the park, and you might find you want to hike more, or less, than you expected to.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a beautiful place so we hope you have a wonderful time here.

The Loch Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

The Loch. You can hike here from Glacier Gorge or Bear Lake Trailhead. If you hike to Sky Pond, you will hike through the Loch to get there.

Colorado Travel Guide

When to Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

The best time for this Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary is from Memorial Day through mid-October, when Trail Ridge Road is open. During this time, you will be able to drive through the park, with access to all of the hikes and overlooks.

When Trail Ridge Road closes, there will be no access to the west side of the park, if you are staying in Estes Park. That means you will not be able to visit the Alpine Visitor Center, hike the Ute Trail to Tombstone Ridge, drive Old Fall River Road, or visit some of the best overlooks in the park.

Rocky Mountain National Park is open all year. Once the snow begins to fall, you can still hike many of the trails that we list, but you will need snowshoes. During the winter months, cross-country skiing is also a popular activity. You can follow this itinerary during the winter months with some modifications. For many visitors, the winter months are their favorite time to visit RMNP. The park is quieter and with the snow, it is a winter wonderland. 

Elk Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

Elk on Trail Ridge Road | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Where to Stay

In rocky mountain national park.

If you want to stay in the park, you will be limited to campgrounds. There is no lodging inside Rocky Mountain National Park. Aspenglen, Moraine Park, and Glacier Basin are the most popular campgrounds and these get reserved well in advance. Longs Peak and Timber Creek Campgrounds are easier to get reservations.

In Estes Park

With numerous hotels and restaurants, and a great location near the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a great place to stay.

The Stanley Hotel. This historic hotel is one of the top places to stay in Estes Park. This is the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining.

The Stanley Hotel offers a wide range of rooms. The rooms within the main hotel building get mixed reviews. Some visitors complain of noise and hot temperatures in the summer (there is no air conditioning). The Aspire rooms are higher-end, modernly decorated rooms but many people state that they are overpriced for what you get.

I recommend staying at The Residences. Take your pick from one, two, three, and four bedroom houses that come equipped with a full kitchen. Each residence is individually managed, so some are better than others. We stayed in a 3-bedroom house, #402, and it was perfect. Plenty of room, good WiFi, nice furnishings, and beautiful views from our balcony. I highly recommend this particular residence.

WorldMark Estes Park. This very highly rated property offers two-bedroom apartments that can accommodate up to six people. It is located just outside of Estes Park, on the south side, an excellent location for driving into the park.

The Inn on Fall River & Fall River Cabins. This property is located west of Estes Park on Fall River Road, so you will have a longer drive to get into the heart of the park. However, this property gets rave reviews. You can stay in a cozy cabin with a river view or a well-decorated suite. There is even a three-bedroom house that can accommodate up to nine people.

For more information about where to stay and where to eat, read our Guide to Estes Park.  

Emerald Lake Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary

Emerald Lake | Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary

Practical Information

Park Hours:  Park entrances are open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Park Fee: $25 per vehicle, valid for 1 day. $35 per vehicle, valid for one week. If you plan to visit multiple national parks, consider purchasing the America the Beautiful Pass ($80 and valid for all of the national parks for one year).

Timed Entry Permit: If you have plans to visit the park in the summer months, don’t forget to reserve your permit in advance. Learn more here.

Get updates on trail closures and park conditions on the National Park Service website.  

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?

If you plan to do a lot of hiking and drive Trail Ridge Road, plan on visiting Rocky Mountain National Park between Memorial Day and mid-October. Just be aware that this is also the busiest time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you want low crowds and don’t mind cold temperatures and snow, plan your visit from November through May. The park is much less crowded at this time, but Trail Ridge Road is not open and many, if not all, of the hiking trails can be snow covered. At this time, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are the main things to do in the park.

To see fall colors and the elk mating season, plan your visit from mid-September through mid-October.

What should you not miss in Rocky Mountain National Park?

In the summer months, the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park are hiking, driving Trail Ridge Road, taking a stroll around Bear Lake, driving Old Fall River Road, and mountaineering. In the winter months, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing top the list.

How crowded does Rocky Mountain National Park get?

In 2022, Rocky Mountain National Park was the 5th most visited national park in the United States, with 4.3 million visitors. The vast majority of these people visited the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The park has gotten so popular that in 2020 a timed entry system was put into effect. Between the end of May through early October, you must reserve a permit to visit the park. This helps control crowd levels on the roads and hiking trails.

If you have any questions about planning your Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.

Where Are You Going Next?

If your visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is part of a bigger road trip through Colorado, here are some articles to help you plan your trip.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK: For a full list of our Rocky Mountain National Park articles, plus important planning tips, check out our Rocky Mountain National Park Travel Guide.

BEST OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK: For a list of top experiences, read our article Best Things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park. We also have a guide to the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park and how to spend one day in RMNP.

COLORADO ITINERARY: With 10 days in Colorado, road trip to all four national parks (Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Mesa Verde), linking them together with some very scenic drives.

MESA VERDE: Learn about the best things to do and how to plan your visit in our Guide to Mesa Verde National Park.

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON: One of the best things to do on the South Rim is to drive South Rim Drive to the overlooks of the Black Canyon. If you are an avid hiker, don’t miss the Gunnison Route, a trail that takes you from the rim to the Gunnison River.

GREAT SAND DUNES: In our article Best Things to Do in Great Sand Dunes National Park, we cover the top experiences, plus how to plan your time, where to stay, and more.

USA TRAVEL INSPIRATION:  For more great ideas on where to go in the United States, check out our article Best USA Road Trips, which has 18 sample itineraries for your next big adventure. You can also see more travel itineraries on our Travel Itineraries page and our National Park Itineraries.

Learn more about the national parks in our Guide to the US National Parks. And for FREE checklist of the US National Parks, take a look at our article US National Parks List.

Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary Guide

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

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One Day in RMNP

Comments 70

Avatar for Ryan

Hello, What would you recommend for non-hikers with kids? We are planning a 5 day trip in March.

Avatar for Julie

Some park roads will still be closed at that time and depending on weather conditions, you could have a little or a lot of snow. You could walk around Bear Lake and go a little farther, to Dream Lake and Emerald Lakes, depending on conditions. Gem Lake is another short hiking option. There are more hikes to do, but they are either longer and/or in sections of the park that won’t be open yet. There are ranger led programs that lead snowshoeing hikes. You could also look into doing this. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Payton

Thank you so much for this!! It is beyond amazing!! Would you say say the Chasm Lake hike is dangerous at all?? My boyfriend and I hiked the Precipice Trail in Acadia NP last week, so if you are familiar with that as a gauge!!

I am running a half marathon on Sunday (not the best planning) and we will have technically Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to enjoy the park! So going to rearrange your four day itinerary as best as I can 🙂

Hello Payton. We have hiked the Precipice Trail and these two hikes are nothing alike. I don’t recall any drop offs along the Chasm Trail so you will have little to no exposure on the Chasm Trail, unlike the crazy cliff walks of the Precipice Trail. However, the Chasm Trail is a lot longer and more difficult. Put this hike towards the end of your time in RMNP. You don’t want to do it too early on your visit if you aren’t acclimated to the elevation because it is a tough hike. But you also need time for recovery before the half marathon, so keep that in mind when planning your schedule. Have a great time and good luck in the half marathon! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Jodi

Hi Julie, Is there a printable version of your hiking itineraries for 3 & 4 days in RMNP? It will be easier for my husband to read along with me if I can print something out for him. Many thanks 🙂

We don’t have a pdf version or eBook for the Rocky Mountain National Park hikes. From your browser, you can save or print the hiking guides as pdfs but it will be a lot of pages since our website is not optimized for printing. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Tanya

Your guides are invaluable. I’ll be in RMNP for the first time in mid-July and wanted to run my itinerary by you if that’s alright, we have 2 days and a half and I’m not sure if I’m overdoing it.

Day 0.5: We land in Denver just after noon. I’m guessing by the time we’ll get to the park it will be 3-4PM. I still wanted to do a short easy hike to get acclimated to the elevation though, I was thinking Alberta Falls? I originally planned on Trail Ridge Road, but there’s so much I would like to do in that section of the park, I fear we may just feel rushed.

Day 1: Morning: The Bear-Nymph-Dream and Emerald Lake hike (we booked a 5-7AM permit) with the option to add Lake Hiyaha on the way back if we’re up for it/not running late for the potential early afternoon thunderstorms. Afternoon: Old Fall River Road with Chasm Lake. Alpine Ridge Trail. Turn around at the Alpine Visitor Center, drive back out on the Trail Ridge Road, stop at the overlooks, hike Ute Trail to Tombstone Ridge. Would you say it’s worth it to continue on the Trail Ridge Road to Timber Creek before turning back, any breathtaking/unique views we’d otherwise miss? We’re not interested in the historic site.

Day 2: Morning: Another 5-7AM permit – Sky Pond hike. I realize this one may take us longer – we’re not in the best shape since the pandemic, and it’s quite early to do this one when not fully acclimated yet, but it’s the one I really want to do. Afternoon: Option to re-do the Day 1 afternoon if the weather wasn’t clear, but this is where I’m stumped for an easyish alternative. Maybe Deer Mountain? The Sky pond hike may have us completely beat though, so maybe just Estes Park?

Thank you for any input!

Hello Tanya. I’d be happy to help. For day 1 I recommend doing a different hike. You will hike right past Alberta Falls when hiking to Sky Pond. Instead, you could do Gem Lake . On day 2, it might be worth driving as far as the Far View Curve viewpoint if you are doing well on time (but the best views in my opinion are between Medicine Bow Curve and the Deer Mountain Trailhead). That’s great that you are doing Sky Pond…just take your time but it’s a great hike! If you still have energy, Deer Mountain is a good option that afternoon. Or, tour the hotel in Estes Park or go shopping in Estes Park. If you like bourbon and whiskey, the Stanley Hotel also has nice bar where you can relax and have a drink. It looks like you are covering the top areas of the park…it should be a great trip! Cheers, Julie

Thank so much for the quick reply! I haven’t looked at the Sky Pond hike in detail yet so I missed that it passes Alberta Falls. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so I have a tour of the Stanley Hotel booked for the morning of day 3 before we move on to our next destination, not a drinker though! I’m sure we’ll make the time for a stroll around Lake Estes on one of the evenings before or after dinner.

Thanks for the alternative tips as well! Gem Lake wasn’t really on my radar, but looking at pictures, the view from the rock outcropping is gorgeous!

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Rocky Mountain National Park Tour

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Climb from the streets of the "Mile High City" to Rocky Mountain National Park, on a day trip that showcases the rugged beauty of Colorado's mountains. Weave through small, historic towns and drive over alpine passes, as you scan the horizon for mountain wildlife like elk, black bears, or moose.

  • Chance to spot local wildlife such as moose, elk, deer & eagles
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  • Ample time at each stop to explore
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Hiking Adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver

THE INSIDE HOOKUP

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One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park

rocky mountain 1 day tour

If you only have one day in Rocky Mountain National Park, this article will help you make the most of it. There is so much to see and do in the park that planning for just one day in Rocky Mountain National Park can be overwhelming. That’s why we created a list of things for you to consider when planning your one day itinerary for RMNP.

Our goal is for you to experience the park AND enjoy yourself along the way! As such, our advice includes some great picnic spots, hiking trails, photo opportunities and scenic drives.

What to Do If You Only Have One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park

If you only have 1 day in Rocky Mountain National Park your best itinerary is to drive across Trail Ridge Road in the morning and early afternoon and then explore the East Side of RMNP in the later afternoon and evening with a hike or sight seeing. Every time we visit RMNP this is how we start our first day in the park. We’ll never get tired of the beauty of Trail Ridge Road. And there are dozens of amazing spots and hike to choose from to fill out the rest of day.

On Trail Ridge Road, you’ll explore the beauty of RMNP from your car with short walks. The time you spend crossing the mountain tops will also allow you to acclimatize yourself a little bit to the high elevations.

Because every adventurer is different, we have included several options in our 1 day itinerary so you can adjust to your interest and energy level. Take a look and see which one best fits your travel plans. You’ll find a detailed schedule below:

Your Itinerary for One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park

One day itinerary quick view.

  • Catch the Sunrise at Rainbow Curve
  • Drive the Scenic Trail Ridge Road, stopping for amazing views along the way
  • Explore the Kawuneeche Valley and enjoy your lunch
  • Visit the Alpine Visitor’s Center
  • Spend late afternoon and evening exploring the East Side of RMNP and Bear Lake Corridor
  • Enjoy a Picnic Dinner at Sprague Lake
  • Relax with a Sunset at Bear Lake

This is just one of many ways to fill a full day in Rocky Mountain National Park. Below we go into details and alternate ideas throughout the day so you can customize your adventure.

This is my top choice for how to spend a day in Rocky Mountain National Park as you get a taste of all the most popular spots. And those spots are popular for a reason: They are AMAZING.

If you haven’t heard, you’ll need a special timed entry pass to go into the Bear Lake Corridor during the peak season. (More on how to get that below). Try to get your Bear Lake Pass for mid to late afternoon for this itinerary. However, don’t stress if you can’t get a pass for the day 1 day you are in Rocky Mountain National Park. We will cover fantastic alternate ideas in plan as we go through the details.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

URGENT: Before you go…Get Timed Entry Passes to Rocky Mountain National Park

Timed Entry Reservations are required to enter the park between May and October. Do Not arrive at the park without your timed entry reservation because you will be turned away. And that means a lot of sad faces in your car.

There are 2 types of timed entry passes

  • one for entry into the very busy Bear Lake Road area. This area is where you’ll find the most diverse and well-known hiking trails and alpine lakes. It is the most limited pass and the hardest to get.
  • one for entry into Rocky Mountain National Park in general. This pass can still be challenging to get if you want to enter during peak hours of the day. During non-peak hours before 9 am or after 3 pm, you can enter without a timed entry pass… you just won’t be able to go to Bear Lake.

Don’t be fooled into thinking weekdays or off-season passes will be easier to get. There is no off-season in Rocky Mountain National Parks. And weekdays in the summer months are just as busy as the weekends.

The National Park Service does a great job explaining exactly how to get a pass on their website.

The Good News… Our itinerary for a day in Rocky Mountain National Park works even if don’t have any passes! Read on for the details.

One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary Details

This is going to be a day to remember as you visit the most popular sites in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Timed entry passes for the Bear Lake Corridor are in high demand. Shoot for an early morning pass or a mid to late afternoon pass. This itinerary for one day assumes you visit Trail Ridge Road in the morning and arrive at Bear Lake in the afternoon. However, it is easy to flip it over if your pass is for the opposite time!

One last thought before you go through this itinerary: You can easily spend a whole day on Trail Ridge Road and several days in Bear Lake Corridor. Don’t try to do it all. I call it “tasting the park”. Savor every moment rather than rushing on to the next thing, and you will have unbelievable memories.

Start your day with Sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park

If you are an early bird, catching a sunrise in the park is an inspiring photo opportunity. Grab your coffee and head up Trail Ridge Road to Rainbow Curve Overlook for a gorgeous sunrise on your day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. If you enter RMNP before 9am, you don’t need a timed entry pass for Trail Ridge Road . Or if you have an early pass into Bear Lake, 2 favorite spots for a sunrise photograph are Sprague Lake or Bear Lake.

If you are an early bird, catching a sunrise in the park is an inspiring photo opportunity. Grab your coffee and head up Trail Ridge Road to Rainbow Curve Overlook for a gorgeous sunrise on your day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.  If you enter RMNP before 9am, you don’t need a timed entry pass for Trail Ridge Road . Or if you have an early pass into Bear Lake, 2 favorite spots for a sunrise photograph are Sprague Lake or Bear Lake.

View of Trail Ridge Road S Curve weaving through Rocky Mountain National park with snow and mountains in distance. Include in your RMNP 1 day itinerary.

Morning – Depending upon how you enter the park from Estes Park, the first stop is either the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center or the Falls River Visitor Center. You’ll find great displays and very helpful park rangers.

Take a Scenic Drive on Trail Ridge Road or Old Fall River Road

Time for the most scenic drive in the National Park System! Head to the Alpine Visitor Center, located at the “top of the world”. You have the choice of 2 scenic drives to get to the top.

Scenic Drive Option 1 – Trail Ridge Road

Plan to stop often as you drive Trail Ridge Road for the breathtaking views. Trail Ridge Road is one of the most scenic drives in the country. It’s called the “Highway to the Sky” because the design intentionally allows for incredible panoramic views of the mountains and the valleys. Here are a few not to be missed stops:

  • Many Parks Curve – This overlook is called Many Parks because it provides a panoramic view of several meadow areas in Rocky Mountain National Park – each a park in itself. Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, and Horseshoe Park meadows are visible here with a stunning backdrop of mountain peaks.
  • Forest Canyon Overlook – Grab your camera and your hiking binoculars . This is your first open view of Longs Peak above the treeline.
  • Tundra Communities Trail – A short interpretive walk into the tundra. You’ll be amazed at the life in this hostile environment above the treeline.
  • Lava Cliffs – If you are interested in the Geology of Rocky Mountain National Park, this shows the impact of the uplift from over 70 million years ago.

Dirt road lined with trees and a hairpin curve in the distance, a great way to start your trip when you only have 1 day in Rocky Mountain National Park

Option 2 – Old Fall River Road Up

Old Fall River Road was the first road to the top designed for automobiles. It retains its original design with steep grades and sharp turns. Because it is narrow, traffic is limited to one-way up the mountain. It’s slow-moving. Without stops, the 11-mile gravel road drive will take 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

But why wouldn’t you stop! Don’t miss the short, easy hike to Chasm Falls. It’s one of the prettiest waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park. The trailhead is on the left about a mile after the road turns to gravel.

Important: before you head up Old Fall River Road, make a potty stop at the Visitor’s Center. Once you get on this road, there are no bathrooms until the Alpine Visitor Center and no turning back.

Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road converge At the top of the world: Alpine Visitor Center.

EXPERT TIP: Resist the temptation to stop at the Alpine Visitor Center right now. Midday, the visitor center will be super packed, and cars will be circling the parking lot looking for a space. You’ll have a much more enjoyable tour if you stop on your way back.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Late Morning on Trail Ridge Road

It should be late morning now, and you will start cruising down the West side of Trail Ridge Road to the Kuwaneeche Valley. You’ll notice the traffic has thinned a bit as many visitors never explore past the Alpine Visitor Center. Those people are missing so much!

Just a couple of quick things to do as you cruise down into the Kuwaneeche Valley, and then it will be time to grab some lunch. Depending upon the time, pick one to two items from the list below:

  • Stop at Milner Pass, where you’ll cross the Continental Divide for a quick photo. This pass is the invisible line across the Rockies where the rain of the Eastside flows to the Atlantic and on the West flows to the Pacific.
  • Pull off at the Farview pull out for a great view of the Never Summer Mountain Range.
  • Beaver Ponds Boardwalk – Perfect for families. You know how kids love water! It’s a short, accessible stroll to the boardwalk around the Beaver Dams. You are likely to see beaver and other water-loving animals. Moose and elk are often sighted here.
  • Visit Holzwarth Historic Site – Take a close look at life in the Rockies in the early 1900s. At Holzwarth Historic Site, volunteers guide you through the family homestead and what became the Never Summer Dude Ranch in 1920. Guests would fish and take horseback excursions through the Rockies. The easy paved 1.2 mi trail is located on the west side near Grand Lake. It’s not unusual to see moose or elk in this area. Although the trail is open anytime, the homesteads are only open mid-June to Labor Day.
  • Keep an eye out as the valley opens up for wildlife. Elk are often grazing here.

Don’t Let the Planning Overwhelm You!

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Plan your perfect trip to Rocky Mountain National Park!

Check out our complete digital Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park. This is written specifically for the first time visitor to make your trip planning easy! Over 90 pages of things to do and see on your adventure. Plus get pro tips for planning your adventure.

Start planning immediately with Digital Download!

Where to Have Lunch on Your Day in Rocky Mountain National Park

Lunchtime will find you in the Kawuneeche Valley. A couple of lunch ideas:

  • Lunch in the community of Grand Lake is only a few minutes away – You’ll find a variety of casual restaurants along Grand or Lake Avenue near the marina. Note you will be leaving the park, so make sure you have your receipt handy for return access.
  • Picnic Lunch at Coyote Valley Trail Head and Picnic Area – It’s only a 5-minute walk to the picnic area on a packed gravel trail perfect for a stroller or wagon. On the way, you’ll travel a small bridge crossing the Colorado River. You are only 10 miles from the beginning of the Colorado River here, and it isn’t much more than a shallow creek. You’ll find pretty nice vault toilets here too. After your picnic lunch , enjoy a short hike on this fully accessible trail through the meadows.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Early Afternoon in Kawuneeche Valley and the Alpine Visitor Center

It’s time to start heading back over the mountains if you have extra time on the way back and feel like working off that lunch, stop at the Colorado River Trailhead.

Here, you are near the beginning of the Colorado River. It’s a relatively flat short walk to the river, and moose are commonly seen munching in the water. Follow the 7 mile round trip trail to Lulu City if time allows. It’s an old 1800s miner town. There’s not much evidence left, but it is fun to poke around.

The Alpine Visitor Center

Now is the time to stop at the highest visitor center, the Alpine Visitor Center, which closes at 5 pm. Here you’ll find great displays about this eco-system. Don’t miss the short hike along Alpine Ridge Trail, which starts right behind the visitor center. Pull-on your jacket as this 0.6 mi round trip walk will be windy!

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Late Afternoon – Head to Bear Lake Corridor

Cruise down Trail Ridge Road back towards Bear Lake Road. If you took Fall River Road, check out the notes above about great stops.

You’ve just spent a big chunk of your day sitting in your car, so the Bear Lake Corridor is your opportunity to get out and explore. The Bear Lake Area is a hiker’s paradise for novices and skilled hikers alike.

For short scenic hikes and relaxing alongside beautiful lakes arriving late afternoon or early evening is perfect. Visitors doing full-day hikes come early in the day and will be on their way out when you arrive; it will be much less crowded.

Parking is tight at the trailheads, so park at the Park and Ride and enjoy the easy-to-use free shuttle bus that services the trailheads in this area.

Afternoon Hikes to Choose From

You could hike all day in the Bear Lake Corridor on  trails that interconnect  and take you high up into the mountains. However, you would need a whole day just in this area. So if you only have one day in the park, we suggest you enjoy several shorter hikes.

  • You’ll love hiking to the 30 foot Alberta Falls . This family-friendly hike is under 2 miles round trip on a paved trail. The elevation gain is moderate and quite the workout. Plan 1 to 1.5 hours for this trip. This hike starts at Glacier Gorge Trailhead. (Beyond Alberta Falls is The Loch and Sky Pond Trail . If you have more than one day is our favorite day hike.)
  • Bear Lake is a short walk from the Bear Lake Trailhead and parking lot, so it’s a perfect spot to relax. For some exercise, walk the easy 1/2 mile loop around the lake. Or for a bit more of a challenge: hike to Nymph Lake. It’s about a 1-mile round trip. Or go on to Dream Lake (2.2mi RT) or Emerald Lake (3.6mi RT) if you have extra time.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Take your picnic dinner over to Sprague Lake, which has a lovely picnic area. After dinner, walk around the lake’s edge on the 1-mile nature loop. Wildlife, including elk and moose, are often seen along the Sprague Lake Trail in the evening hours, so it’s the perfect place to relax.

End a Day in Rocky Mountain National Park with an Evening Sunset

For the evening, catch a beautiful sunset over the mountains. Forest Canyon Overlook on Trail Ridge Road is a popular spot for spectacular sunsets. If you are not up for driving Trail Ridge Road in the dark, we’ve also seen stunning photos taken of the setting sun framing the mountains with Bear Lake in the forefront. Grab a chair and a warm beverage for your wait.

Alternate 1 Day RMNP Itinerary if You Can’t get a Bear Lake Corridor Pass

If you couldn’t get a timed entry pass into the Bear Lake Corridor, here are a few adjustments you can make to the above itinerary. I assure you that there is so much to do in Rocky Mountain National Park that you will have a fantastic day!

EXPERT TIP: After 6pm, you can enter the Bear Lake Corridor without a timed entry pass. In the summer it is light until 8:30 or 9pm so you have plenty of time to explore. Just don’t get caught out on a hiking trail after dark.

Alternate 1 Day Itinerary for Morning and Afternoon:

  • Morning – Keep the morning plan with a perfect sunrise photo opportunity and a cruise up Trail Ridge Road or Old Fall River Road.
  • Afternoon – Take advantage of the extra time to explore the Kawuneeche Valley by taking one of the longer hikes listed above. The Kawuneeche Visitor Center is worth adding as a stop. You’ll find it just past the Timber Creek Campgrounds.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Late afternoon and evening plans in Rocky Mountain National Park:

When you return from your scenic drive along Trail Ridge Road, head over to the Horseshoe Park area. Here you’ll enjoy visiting the Alluvial Fan and Sheeps Lakes.

  • The Alluvial Fan is a cascade of running water over huge boulders. You can hike over parts of it for a fun family adventure.
  • Sheeps Lakes is named after the bighorn sheep that travel to the lake daily throughout the spring and early summer. This lake is a great area to see elk and other wild animals in the late afternoon.
  • End your afternoon relaxing in the Hidden Valley Picnic Area for a picnic dinner.

Evening with 1 Day in Rocky Mountain National Park:

After 6 pm, head over to Bear Lake Corridor. You can access Bear Lake without a pass after 6 pm. Remember, when it gets dark in the Rocky Mountains, it is dark. So don’t try starting any long hikes this late, and make sure you have a flashlight or headlamp with you. The short loop around Bear Lake or Sprague Lake would be perfect for wrapping up your day. Then hang around for your sunset photograph over the lake!

One Day Tours of Rocky Mountain National Park

We love to use the GuideAlong Audio App on our phones when driving through National Parks. You’ll be amazed at the interesting facts the narrator shares as you travel. And he’ll cover the history and natural features of each point of interest. You can check out our full review of GuideAlong here.

And if you are bit freaked out about driving along Trail Ridge Road yourself, a tour like this one from Purple Mountain Tour Company is just the thing. The 4 hour tour will drive that amazing scenic road for you. Plus it includes an awesome tour guide.

Our Experience in Rocky Mountain National Park

On our quest to visit all of the US National Parks, Rocky Mountain NP is my favorite. It was the first National Park I checked off my list at the age of 10. Brad is passionate about this park, from bringing his kids when they were tiny tots to sharing his favorite spots with me on our first road trip. We keep coming back to explore over and over.

This Rocky Mountain National Park one day Itinerary is exactly the one we have shared with family and friends each time they ask what to do in RMNP. And they come back with amazing memories and a Ka-jillion beautiful pictures. That’s why we know you will love this itinerary!

Fun Facts About Rocky Mountain National Park

  • The Park encompasses 415 Square Miles (almost as big as Los Angeles) Visitors usually only see a very small portion of that as backcountry hiking is required to reach most of it’s wilderness.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park was established on January 26, 1915
  • RMNP is one of the nation’s highest national parks, with elevations ranging from 7,860 feet to 14,259 feet
  • Creating a 48 mile path across RMNP, Trail Ridge is the highest continuous paved highway. It’s highest point is 12,183 ft
  • The land was acquired by the United States during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803
  • Bighorn sheep are the symbol of RMNP, with about 400 sheep currently residing in the park
  • Most of the park, almost 250,000 acres, was designated as wilderness by Congress in 2009
  • The Continental Divide runs northwest-southeast through the center of the park.
  • There are less than 30 black bears in Rocky Mountain National Park

rocky mountain 1 day tour

What to Do if you Only Have One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Fall

September and October are extremely popular months to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s a pretty good chance that Trail Ridge Road will be closed for snow by mid September. So plan to enjoy the amazing fall colors of the aspen in the park. You’ll love watching the RMNP elk as they get a little crazy during the fall rut. Moose living in Rocky Mountain National Park will also be fairly easy to see.

For more ideas on filling a day in Rocky Mountain National Park during the fall check out our list of 7 Reasons to Visit RMNP in Autumn .

rocky mountain 1 day tour

What to Do if you Only Have One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Winter

Although the best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park to see and do everything is summer, RMNP is open all year and perfect for winter adventures. If you only have a day in the park, that’s still enough time to see a few of the highlights.

Trail Ridge Road will be closed due to snow and ice all winter. The closure starts mid-fall, and it usually reopens Memorial Day weekend, depending upon when plowing is complete.

Here are some ideas to fill your day when the park is snowy:

  • Sledding is open in Hidden Valley. Families love this adventure.
  • A hiking adventure in the Bear Lake area can be fun and a bit challenging. Ensure you are prepared for the cold with the right equipment and know what to wear for winter hiking . Popular winter destinations include Sky Pond, Lake Haiyaha, and Dream Lakes in the Glacier Basin.
  • Bear Lake and Sprague Lake are gorgeous when snow-covered; you can capture some amazing photos without the need to spend much time in the cold at both of these locations.

Essential Tips for your Day in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Avoid Altitude Sickness – Make sure you drink a lot of water and snack on something throughout the trip to avoid altitude sickness symptoms. It is easy to overestimate your body’s ability to adjust to mountain elevation changes. You will climb from 7,800 feet to over 12,000 feet during this day.
  • Watch for Afternoon Thunderstorms – Straight from the National Park Service website: “Thunderstorms are common in summer and are dangerous. Plan your day to be below tree line by early afternoon. If you see building storm clouds, head back to the trailhead. If caught in a lightning storm, get below tree line.”
  • Don’t Forget Your Jacket – It will be 20-30 degrees colder at the top than at the bottom. Plus, the wind may be extremely harsh when you reach the tree line. We tend to forget how intense the sun is at higher elevations since it gets colder. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the stronger UV rays.
  • Start with a full tank of gas – You won’t find a gas station in the park, so start ready for a full day of driving.
  • Pack food – Bathrooms will be plentiful along Trail Ridge Road and major trailheads. But access to food or drink is very limited. It’s best to carry all the food and water you need for the day. Some of the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park have picnic tables.

Where to Stay When Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

If you are only spending one day in Rocky Mountain National Park, stay as close as you can so you can get an early start and enjoy a full day.

If you are a camper, there are excellent campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park . We try to stay in the park when we visit so we are close to everything we want to see and do. You’ll also find deluxe RV Campgrounds in the Estes Park Area and more rustic camping in the nearby National Forests.

Estes Park and nearby communities are full of hotels and rental cabins that are the perfect place to stay. Our favorites are the river cabins along Fall River. They are super cute and right outside the gate to the park. If you want something unique, try the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, which inspired the horror movie The Shining. Or, for a full Estes Park Resort experience, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with all the YMCA offers in lodging.

Several other towns near Rocky Mountain National Park are great for lodging options, including Boulder, Loveland and Grand Lake, Colorado. All these require a little more driving but provide some unique mountain experiences.

How to Get to Rocky Mountain National Park

Most people drive to Rocky Mountain National Park and start fresh in the morning. However, it is possible to make this a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park from Boulder, Fort Collins, or Denver. It’s about 1.5 hours drive from the Denver International Airport.

My last piece of advice is to stop often and enjoy the views. Wildlife is everywhere in the park and you are certain to run into them without even trying. The mountain views are beyond compare. Wildflowers are abundant most of the summer. Without a doubt, you’ll start thinking about your next visit after your one day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Looking for more ideas? Here’s our article on 9 Amazing Things to do In Rocky Mountain National Park for the First Time Visitor .

And if you prefer a long day hike on your day in Rocky Mountain National Park, here are a few of our favorite hikes that you can complete in 1/2 day:

✔ Hike to Sky Pond

✔ Hiking to Ouzel Falls

✔ Hike to Cub Lake

Ladona Stork

The Authors: Hey, we are Ladona and Brad, avid campers and hikers. We are crazy about getting outdoors at every possible moment and have decades of experience exploring nature. Our current goal is to visit all 63 US National Parks and just completed #34. WooHoo! Our mission is to help you plan your own adventures and create memories beyond your imagination!

The Most Exciting Things To Do With One Day In Rocky Mountain National Park (from a local!)

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Majestic snow-capped peaks, exciting scenic drives, and ample wildlife are a few of the many reasons this is one of the most visited parks in the United States.

I’ve lived in Denver most of my life and have taken a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park more times than I can count.

The incredible alpine lakes and breathtaking mountain views never get old.

If you’re planning a day in RMNP and aren’t sure where best to spend your time, read on for some of the best things to do with one day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Man standing on huge boulders with pine trees and cloudless sky in background on sunny summer day. Lake Haiyaha, Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado.

Table of Contents

Best Things To Do With One Day In Rocky Mountain National Park 

During your one day in Rocky Mountain National Park going for a hike is a must.

Hiking here is a fun and rewarding experience.

On the trails you can expect to find scenic beauty and diverse terrain with sparkling lakes and towering, snow-capped peaks.

If you’re lucky, you may even spot wildlife.

The park has ample trails to choose from, which vary in difficulty.

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned pro, seeking a short hike or all day adventure, there’s a hiking trail for you.

Popular Hikes In Rocky Mountain National Park

Below are much-loved, and relatively easy, hiking trails for visitors:

  • Alberta Falls – Rated easy, 1.2 miles, 160 foot elevation change
  • Bear Lake – Rated easy, .5 miles, 20 foot elevation change
  • Nymph Lake , Dream Lake & Emerald Lake – Rated moderate, 4.1 miles, 744 foot elevation change
  • Sprague Lake  – Rated easy, .5 miles, 10 foot elevation change

Advanced hikers check out: 

  • Chasm Lake – Rated hard, 8 miles, 2,390 foot elevation change
  • Sky Pond – Rated hard, 8.6 miles, 1,771 foot elevation change
  • Bear Lake to Odessa Lake & Fern Lake – Rated hard, 10.7 miles, 2,760 foot elevation change
  • Lake Haiyaha – Rated moderate, 4.2 miles, 745 foot elevation change

Regardless if you’re new to hiking or advanced, I recommend seeing Dream Lake & Emerald Lake.

The trail is one of the most famous in the park and for very good reason. 

Bright blue waters of alpine mountain lake framed by rocky peaks and pine trees on sunny day. Lake Haiyaha, Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado.

Watch For Wildlife

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, there’s no doubt this is a big draw for most.

Visitors can expect to see bighorn sheep, elk, deer, moose, marmots, pikas, and many species of birds.

More illusive animals in the park include coyotes, fox, otters, mountain lions, and black bears. 

Of course, spotting any wildlife will require some luck.

Visiting early or staying late will be rewarding for most wildlife-seekers, this is because animals are most active around dawn and dusk.

Where to spot animals depends on the season and what exactly you’re hoping to see.

Moraine Park, Kawuneeche Valley, Old Fall River Road, and Trail Ridge Road are among the most popular spots to watch for wildlife. 

Please remember to keep plenty of distance between yourself and wildlife (bring binoculars for better viewing!)

Additionally, keep quiet, respect the animals, and do not feed any wildlife in the park — not even the cute, yet seriously aggressive, squirrels. 

elk-on-alpine-tundra-summer-rocky-mountain-national-park-colorado-national-park-road-trip-ten-days-summer

Drive Trail Ridge Road

When visiting Rocky Mountain National Park a drive along Trail Ridge Road is a must.

The scenic throughway winds through the upper elevations of Rocky Mountain National Park, crossing the continental divide.

All while offering incredible views of mountain vistas, alpine tundra, and wildlife. 

The 48 mile road reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest continuously paved roads in North America. 

The drive requires about 2 hours. You’ll want to take your time, there are many excellent viewpoints worth stopping at and wildlife sightings can be abundant. 

Trail Ridge Road is only open roughly Memorial Day – mid October and can close at any time due to weather.

I’ve driven this road many times and the weather has usually been great.

However, once in August, while it was sunny and warm in Estes Park, we encountered snow during our drive along Trail Ridge Road.

It’s unlikely you’ll experience snow during summer, however, don’t underestimate the extreme weather variances which occur at this elevation.

Planning to drive the entirety of Trail Ridge Road? Check out Best Things To Do On The West Side Of Rocky Mountain National Park for things to do on the park’s lesser visited side.

People walking up paved path on mountain tundra hill with huge, dramatic mountain-scapes in background on sunny summer day. Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Grand Lake, Colorado.

Alpine Visitor Center 

The Alpine Visitor Center is the highest elevation Visitor Center in the National Park System at 11,796 feet above sea level.

Located near the summit of Trail Ridge Road, this is a must-stop during your scenic drive. 

The center offers a range of facilities for visitors, including restrooms, a gift shop, snack bar, and small museum.

Here you can find exhibits on the geology, ecology, and history of the park or chat with park rangers.

The Visitor Center also has excellent panoramic views of the surrounding alpine tundra. 

If you’re not able to stop by this Visitor Center, check out the park’s other options:

  • Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (east side)
  • Fall River Visitor Center (east side)
  • Kawuneeche Visitor Center (west side)

Watch The Sunset 

During your one day in Rocky Mountain National Park be sure to watch the sunset.

The park’s mountain vistas and alpine landscapes provide a stunning backdrop, resulting in unforgettable sunsets.

Additionally, the park’s many critters are particularly active at this time of day.

You have a great chance of spotting deer, elk, maybe even a moose.

Some of the best places to watch the sunset in Rocky Mountain National Park are:

  • Moraine Park
  • Upper Beaver Meadows
  • Emerald Lake
  • Forest Canyon Overlook

Grassy, green meadow with pine trees and mountain views in distance on sunny summer day. Dream Lake and Emerald Lake hiking trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado.

Go For A Tour

Would you rather join a guided tour during your one day in Rocky Mountain National Park?

There are several different tours available which will provide a unique and informative experience during your day in RMNP.

Below are a few popular tour options in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • Ranger-led tours
  • Wildlife tours
  • Horseback riding
  • Sunrise hike
  • Photography tour

For more, check out The Best Rocky Mountain National Park Tours .

Self-driving Audio Tour

If you plan to drive the park, I highly recommend a GPS based audio guide.

Guide Along is an audio tour downloaded to your phone which will guide you through Rocky Mountain National Park.

Not only does it supply tons of information about the park but it also provides tips regarding where to pull over for the best viewpoints and easy, accessible trails worth stopping for.

The guided audio follows your GPS, therefore provides information in real time.

Plus, it allows you to set the pace of the tour.

Be sure to download the tour before heading to the park, it’ll then work even when you no longer have cell service.

I’ve used Guide Along for many national parks, including Rocky Mountain, and couldn’t recommend it more.

The audio tour is only a few dollars. You can purchase it here:  Guide Along Tour – Rocky Mountain National Park .

Women horseback riding through shallow creek surrounded by pine trees in mountains. Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park 1 Day Itinerary

Below is an easy itinerary for one day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

This is tailored towards first-time visitors or those wishing to see the park’s most famous features:

  • Hike to Dream & Emerald Lakes.
  • Drive Trail Ridge Road.
  • Stop by the Alpine Visitor Center.
  • See Kawuneeche Valley and the Colorado River.
  • Watch for wildlife in Moraine Park as the sun sets.

One Day In Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary – West Side 

Most visitors explore Rocky Mountain National Park from the east side, which is near Estes Park. 

If you’re visiting Rocky Mountain National Park from the west side, Grand Lake, then a different itinerary may suit you better.

Below are some things to do on the west side of the park:

  • Hike Adams Falls
  • See Kawuneeche Valley and the Colorado River
  • Visit Holzwarth Historic Site – a historic homestead from the early 1900s.
  • Watch for wildlife – this side of the park has lots of moose!
  • Drive Trail Ridge Road 

For more ideas, check out Best Things To Do On West Side Of Rocky Mountain National Park .

hiking rocky mountain national park west side adams falls colorado grand lake

One Day In Rock Mountain National Park During Winter

Winter is one of my favorite times to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

The cold weather and deep snow keeps most visitors away, meaning this is one of the few times to experience the park absent of large crowds. 

While a winter visit definitely requires more planning, don’t let that stop you from visiting.

Below is how I’d spend one day in Rocky Mountain National Park during winter:

  • Stop by the Fall River Visitor Center.
  • Snowshoe Dream & Emerald Lakes.
  • Go sledding in Hidden Valley or cross-country skiing.
  • Walk the shops and grab a late lunch in Estes Park.

For much more, check out: Best Things To Do In Rocky Mountain National Park During Winter .

snowshoeing-dream-lake-rocky-mountains-best-national-parks-to-visit-in-winter

Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations

During peak season, timed-entry reservations are required to visit RMNP.

These must be secured in advance and are required in addition to a park fee.

There are two permits available: Park Access and Park Access+.

Park Access+ allows you into the park and onto Bear Lake Road. Bear Lake Road is where you’ll find the park’s most popular hikes.

If you’re not able to snag a Park Access+ permit, you will not be able to access some of the park’s most popular hikes.

Park Access allows you everywhere besides Bear Lake Road.

Desirable time slots go very quickly, you’ll need to be on the website immediately when reservations become available.

I recommend booking the earliest arrival time to avoid large afternoon crowds. 

Reservations can be made online through Recreation.gov or by phone.

If booking online, secure your timed entry reservation here:  Timed Entry Reservations RMNP

The timed-entry reservation system is designed to help manage visitor access and protect the park’s natural resources.

Regulating the flow of visitors through the park reduces overcrowding and ensures a much better experience for everyone.

Getting To Rocky Mountain National Park

The park is easily accessible by car via several highways.

The most common routes are US 34 and US 36. Both of which run through the town of Estes Park and lead to the park’s eastern entrances.

If coming from the west, take US 40 to Granby, then US 34 to Grand Lake and the park’s west entrance.

There is no public transportation to either Estes Park or the town of Grand Lake.

As mentioned above, the park is divided between east and west sides.

The east side, near Estes Park, has the best hikes and viewpoints. This is where the majority of visitors go.

Once you’ve arrived, Rocky Mountain National Park has 4 entrances:

  • Beaver Meadow Entrance – 4 miles from Estes Park, 70 miles from downtown Denver
  • Fall River Entrance – 5 miles from Estes Park, 72 miles from Denver
  • Wild Basin Entrance – 14 miles from Estes Park, 66 miles from Denver
  • Grand Lake Entrance (west side) – 2.5 miles from Grand Lake, 103 miles from Denver

The Beaver Meadow Entrance is most often used and can get very congested.

The Grand Lake Entrance is the west’s only entrance and can also see backups.

Parking & Getting Around RMNP

There are a few roads through RMNP which connect popular points.

The park’s west and east sides are connected via Trail Ridge Road. The road is only open seasonally, roughly Memorial Day through mid October.

Mild traffic is common throughout the park during summer.

Traffic jams may be caused by wildlife on the road.

Trailhead parking lots fill shortly after sunrise during peak season, specifically in the Bear Lake Road area.

If you’re not in the park this early, utilize the Park & Ride shuttle system. The free service provides frequent shuttles to the park’s most popular trailheads. 

Find more information on RMNP park shuttle bus system here: Rocky Mountain National Park Shuttles

What To Pack For Rocky Mountain National Park

Visitors don’t need anything special for a one day visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. Comfortable athletic wear or hiking gear will do.

Two key items you don’t want to forget though, are layers and sun protection.

Mornings and evenings will be chilly compared to midday.

Pack layers which are easy to take on and off, and always carry a light rain jacket or wind breaker in case an afternoon storm hits.

Below are items I pack when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park in summer or early fall:

  • Shorts or lightweight pants
  • Light weight long sleeve shirt or fleece
  • Rain jacket or windbreaker
  • Hiking boots or sneakers with good traction
  • Small first aid kit
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Snacks/ lunch

As a general rule, plan to drink about 32 oz of water for every 2 hours of hiking. I carry two 40 oz water bottles in my backpack at all times.

Additionally, I keep a 64 oz Hydro Flask in my car for refreshing and cold water after the hike.

There aren’t many places to get food in the park so be sure to pack lunch and snacks.

Below I’ve laid out some of my favorite hiking pieces, all items are linked in the caption below.

Photo compilation: Women's hiking gear and hiking outfits.

Note: If wondering what to pack in winter or spring, check out Best Things To Do In Rocky Mountain National Park During Winter for a complete list.

Weather In Rocky Mountain National Park

Below are average monthly temperatures in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • January – 27° / 13° (High/ Low F°) 
  • February – 28° / 13°
  • March – 36° / 18°
  • April – 42° / 23°
  • May – 51° / 30°
  • June – 63° / 39°
  • July – 69° / 45°
  • August – 66° / 44°
  • September – 59° / 38°
  • October – 46° / 29°
  • November – 34° / 20°
  • December – 25° / 12°

The summer months see pleasant, mild weather.

Afternoon thunderstorms are common during this time of year and can be dangerous, especially at high elevations above the tree line. 

Snow and persistent wind are common occurrences in Rocky Mountain National Park during winter and spring.

It’s important to note, the park’s east and west sides can see very different weather.

Additionally, elevation, which varies greatly throughout the park, will also affect conditions. Weather can be unpredictable and change very abruptly here.

It’s important to be prepared for anything.

Visitors should check the park’s website — NPS RMNP Weather — or stop at a Visitor Center for the latest weather and trail conditions before heading out on a hike or other outdoor activity.

How Many Days Do You Need To See Rocky Mountain National Park?

I live in Colorado and have been to RMNP countless times, still there’s always something new to do.

Having said that, I believe you can see the park’s main highlights in just a day or two. 

Woman hiking on rocky boulder path with pine trees and rocky mountains in background on cloudy summer day. Lake Haiyaha hiking trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Rock Mountain National Park?

Summer, June – August, is a great time to visit Rocky National Park. Snow has melted, temperatures are mild, and Trail Ridge Road is open.

Keep in mind that Rocky Mountain National Park sees snow well into May, don’t expect summer weather and snow-free trails until about mid or late June.

Fall is a lovely time of year to visit. You can expect changing leaves from mid September into early October.

There is a chance for snow this time of year, but most days are sunny and pleasant. Most trails are open, Trail Ridge Road may be closed.

Winter and spring are very snowy and cold. If you wish to see the park with fewer crowds, this is absolutely the best time to do so.

Many trails are open for snowshoeing, there’s a big sledding hill, but Trail Ridge Road is closed.

What Should You Not Miss In Rocky Mountain National Park

A few things you should not miss during your one day in Rocky Mountain National Park include:

  • Hiking Dream Lake & Emerald Lake (or any hike!)
  • Wildlife viewing.
  • Driving Trail Ridge Road.

Small foot bridge crossing shallow creek in mountains surrounded by greenery, pine trees, and rocky mountains. Dream Lake and Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado.

As you can see there are many great things you can do with one day in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I hope this has been helpful in planning your trip and have the best time.

If you’d like to follow along with my travels in real time, check out  @seen.by.amy  on Instagram or  @seenbyamy  on TikTok!

Looking for more ideas? Below are additional Colorado guides or head on over to  NPS Rocky Mountain National Park .

More Information For Your Visit To Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • West Side Of Rocky Mountain National Park: Top Things To Do
  • The Best Rocky Mountain National Park Tours
  • Winter In Rocky Mountain National Park: The Best Things To Do
  • Fall In Rocky Mountain National Park: Best Things To Do

More Information For Your Visit To Estes Park & Grand Lake:

  • Estes Park: The Best Things To Do
  • Estes Park: Best Cabins On The River
  • Grand Lake: The Best Things To Do
  • Grand Lake: Best Cabins For Rent

More Information For Your Colorado Vacation – In The Mountains:

  • Boulder: What To Do With One Day Here
  • Steamboat Springs: Unique Things To Do During Summer
  • Aspen: Fall Weekend Guide
  • Durango: The Most Exciting Things To Do
  • Telluride: Things To Do In The Summer
  • Vail: The Best Things To Do In The Summer
  • Magical Winter Destinations In Colorado
  • Mount Evans Scenic Byway: Everything To Know
  • 10 Day Colorado National Park Road Trip

More Information For Your Colorado Vacation – In The City:

  • Denver: 3 Day Weekend Guide
  • Denver: What To Do With 24 Hours In Denver
  • Denver: Most Popular Day Trips
  • Colorado Springs: Top Things To Do

Additional National Park Guides:

  • Canyonlands National Park One Day Guide
  • Bryce Canyon National Park: Winter Guide
  • Zion National Park: 2 Day Itinerary
  • Arches National Park: One Day Guide
  • Grand Canyon National Park – South Rim: One Day Guide
  • White Sands National Park: One Day Guide

Pinterest Graphic: Photos of Rocky Mountain National Park during summer and winter with text reading "one day in Rocky Mountain National Park"

Amy is a full-time travel blogger who's lived in Denver, Chicago, New York, Utah, & Arizona. She enjoys writing about places she's lived and the many incredible destinations she's visited worldwide. Amy loves to plan trips and finds passion in helping others to plan their getaways, whether a once in a lifetime vacation or a quick weekend away.

Disclaimer: This post may contain commissionable links, these are at no extra cost to you, thank you for your support.

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Discover Which Colorado Mountain Town is right for you

7 Rocky Mountain National Park Tours that Will Leave You Speechless

  • January 6, 2024
  • By foxintheforest

Rocky Mountain National Park is on most people’s Colorado bucket list for good reason! Here you’ll find the stunning scenery of mountain peaks, alpine lakes, rushing waterfalls, and lovely meadows that Colorado is known for.

Focus on the gorgeous landscape without worrying about logistics by taking one of the amazing Rocky Mountain National Park tours.

If you’re looking for recommendations for the best Rocky Mountain National Park tours from a local insider, I’ve got you covered. I’ve lived in Colorado for nearly 15 years now and know RMNP like the back of my hand, so I’ve got all the expert info for you.

A quick note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click a link and purchase something, I get a small kickback at no added cost to you (you get honest tour recs and I get to keep this website going). You can read more about my affiliate policy here .

My pick 🏆 for one of the best Rocky Mountain National Park tours is this Rocky Mountain NP Glass-Top Guided Morning Tour . 😊 It’s well-reviewed, perfect if you’re short on time ⏰, offers stunning views, and even includes hot cocoa/snacks!

About this Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park Tours

Inside this local guide to Rocky Mountain National Park tours, you’ll find expert advice about:

  • When to visit Rocky Mountain National Park
  • What you need to know about reservations for Rocky Mountain National Park
  • How to tour Rocky Mountain National Park
  • The best Rocky Mountain National Park tours, sorted by start location
  • Additional resources for exploring Colorado

When to Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

You can visit Rocky Mountain National Park all year-round, but different seasons have different considerations to keep in mind.

Generally, late June to mid-October is the best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

Local Tip: This is when Trail Ridge Road is open (generally) and you can access all areas of the park.

In the summer and early fall, the park will be extremely crowded, and you will have to make a timed entry reservation (see below), but you will also have lovely weather and could see wildflowers in bloom or beautiful fall foliage.

In the winter, the park is especially gorgeous in the snow, and snowshoeing in RMNP is a fantastic experience.

But avalanche conditions may exist on hikes, and Trail Ridge Road is closed, so you won’t be able to drive from the east to west side of the park.

View of the Rocky Mountains early in the morning during one of the best Rocky Mountain National Park tours.

Do You Need a Reservation for Rocky Mountain National Park?

Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular of the Colorado National Parks , so a timed entry system has been implemented during peak season.

From late May to mid-October, reservations are required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. You can find out more details about timed entry and how to make reservations on the RMNP site here.

The timed entry system is a little tricky – if it sounds really overwhelming, then selecting a tour that handles this part of the planning for you is the way to go!

Just be sure to check what’s included in your tour. (Psst: we’ve added that info below, but be sure to double-check with the tour provider, since details can change.)

What is the Best Way to Tour Rocky Mountain National Park

You can definitely explore Rocky Mountain National Park on your own, but the best Rocky Mountain National Park tours are guided by local experts who can make sure you visit all the best spots in the park.

A private tour lets you customize your itinerary if you have specific places you want to see.

One of the biggest advantages of a tour is the increased chances to see wildlife. Tour guides generally know where the bigger herds of elk are and they have a trained eye to spot wild animals.

Of course, there are no guarantees, but if you’re looking for a wildlife expert, then a tour is a great option.

The Best Rocky Mountain National Park Tours

These Rocky Mountain National Park tours offer a variety of options to fit your schedule and budget, but they all provide incredible views of the gorgeous landscape at several different locations and lookouts throughout Rocky Mountain National Park.

Note: Some Rocky Mountain National Park tours depart from Denver, and others meet in Estes Park, so this list is divided by starting location.

Rocky Mountain National Park Tours – From Denver

1. rocky mountains jeep tour.

A view of a stunning alpine lake nestled inside Rocky Mountain National park.

⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (7 Reviews) Price: $500 per group of four Duration: 9 hours 📍 Meeting Point: Hotel pick up available Operator: Birding Man Adventures Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Make the most of visiting RMNP with this private jeep tour of Rocky Mountain National Park .

After getting picked up at your hotel and driving from Denver to RMNP , you’ll spend a full day immersed in the beauty of one of the prettiest places in Colorado .

The jeep tour will take you up Old Fall River Road, where you will get out to explore the alpine tundra.

“My family and I had a wonderful time seeing Rocky Mountain National Park with Ryan! He’s extremely knowledgable about the ecosystems and wildlife in the park. Even my six year old daughter was able to gain an appreciation for how unique the area is! We visited the park in March during somewhat snowy conditions, but Ryan was able to improvise for weather (and a six year old who couldn’t hike in deep snow). He also made a tasty lunch for us! Overall, the highlight of seeing the park with Ryan is how much you learn along the way. He’s incredibly informative and able to explain complex concepts in an easy to understand way. We highly recommend Ryan and Birding Man Adventures!” Anonymous ( read more reviews now )

Your tour guide is a naturalist, so you’ll learn all about the flora and fauna you’ll find in the park as you keep an eye out for elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and a variety of birds.

Take a break for a picnic lunch with a majestic mountain backdrop before heading back to Denver.

2. Rocky Mountain National Park Tour

Meg wearing a lime green backpack and hiking through Rocky Mountain National Park.  The sun is setting in the background and the sky is purple.

⭐️ Rating: 4.9/5.0 (29 Reviews) Price: $148.38 per person Duration : 9.5 hours 📍 Meeting Point: Pick up included Operator: Colorado Sightseer Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

If you’re visiting Colorado , taking one of the Rocky Mountain National Park tours from Denver will definitely be a highlight of your trip.

After getting picked up in Denver (or Boulder or Estes Park), you’ll drive into the park and up Trail Ridge Road, which features many scenic viewpoints.

You’ll stop for a stunning panoramic vista at Many Parks Curve, then head to Horseshoe Park to check out the alluvial fan.

“The best part of the tour was the tour guide! Phil was very knowledgeable about everything from the trees in the park to the history of the towns that we passed through. While it would have been nice to see some of the wild animals, I feel like too much time is spent stopping to look for them without really finding any. I would have liked spending more time in Estes Park instead.” Anonymous ( read more reviews now )

Here you can take some short trails for some of the top hikes in Colorado to see alpine lakes, waterfalls, and meadows.

Enjoy a casual picnic lunch with a view before you make your way to the town of Estes Park .

You’ll have time to explore this mountain town for a bit, including a visit to the Stanley Hotel of “The Shining” fame.

3. Rocky Mountain National Park Fall/Winter Tour

Meg is staring at an alpine lake in RMNP. She has a backpack on with green rope and a red helmet.

⭐️ Rating: 4.6/5.0 (28 Reviews) Price: $138.20 per person Duration: 8 hours 📍 Meeting Point: 1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO Operator: Colorado Sightseer Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Some Estes Park jeep tours are seasonal, but if you’re looking for winter activities in RMNP , this Rocky Mountain National Park Fall/Winter tour is the perfect way to see snow-capped mountains and a glacial lake.

Meet in Denver before driving up north to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Explore the trails at Moraine Park while keeping an eye out for elk, then make your way to Many Parks Curve for breathtaking views of mountain peaks.

“Such a pleasant trip, you never spend too much time in the van, stops are well thought and it dis not feel rushed. A good combination of outdoors and roadtrip time. Very convenient for solo travellers who don’t want to go through the hassle of renting a car and figuring things on your own. Captain Kurt is an authentic colorado renaissance man. He knows his geography, history, fauna and flora of the region, great recommendations of stuff to do in Denver and a great attitude. Love it.” Stephane ( read more reviews now )

After checking out the alluvial fan in Horseshoe Park, you’ll head to downtown Estes Park where you can grab lunch before wandering around town or doing some short hikes in Estes .

Stop at the historic Stanley Hotel for a memorable final stop on your tour.

Rocky Mountain National Park Tours – From Estes Park

4. rocky mountain national park glass-top guided morning tour.

Meg has a backpack and hiking poles and is trekking through RMNP during one of the best tours of Rocky Mountain National Park.

⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (60 Reviews) Price: $168 per person Duration: 4 hours 📍 Meeting Point: 165 Virginia Dr Unit 17 Operator: Purple Mountain Tour Co. Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Start your morning off right with a Rocky Mountain National Park tour in a special glass-top van to give you the best views of the incredible landscape.

While this tour is awesome any time of year, it’s one of the especially cool things to do in RMNP in summer when the glass roof can be opened up to feel the mountain breeze while you soak in the views.

“This was an exceptional tour! Our guide was knowledgeable about Rocky Mountain National Park. The views were spectacular, and the van was very comfortable. Hot chocolate and snacks included! We thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend the tour to everyone.” Stephanie ( read more reviews now )

You’ll travel up Old Fall River Road to get above treeline where you’ll stop at the Alpine Visitor Center, sitting at 11,796 feet.

This is the highest visitor center in any National Park, and you’ll have time to grab some food, get a souvenir, and immerse yourself in the views of the tundra before you head back down Trail Ridge Road.

During the tour, you’ll also have a chance to take a short excursion to a waterfall or other beautiful destination.

5. Rocky Mountain National Park Private Driving/Hiking Tour (6 hrs)

An elk is walking through a forest and pack a tall tree in Rocky Mountain National Park.

⭐️ Rating: 5.05/5.0 (6 Reviews) Price: $199.00 per person Duration: 6 hours 📍 Meeting Point: Varies Operator: Full Potential Wilderness Details: Read more on Viator Now!

Enjoy one of the best jeep tours from Estes Park with this customizable private guided tour of Rocky Mountain National Park .

With 6 hours to explore the park, you can do a driving tour or explore some of the best RMNP hikes like Emerald Lake or Lake Haiyaha . You’ll also get professional photos taken to document your adventure.

“Enjoyed learning so much about the park. The guide, Ranger Rod was very knowledgeable and shared some of what he knew. my favorite new thing were the tansy asters😀 would recommend the tour.” Sharon ( read more reviews now )

What you do on this tour is completely up to you, and the tour itinerary can be designed to be inclusive and accessible for most travelers.

This is the Rocky Mountain National Park tour for you if you want to make it your own personalized adventure!

6. Private Driving or Hiking Tour in Rocky Mountain National Park (4 hrs)

A view of the majestic brown meadows and snow covered peaks of RMNP.

⭐️ Rating: 5.0/5.0 (22 Reviews) Price: $149 per person Duration: 4 hours 📍 Meeting Point: Pick up available Operator: Full Potential Wilderness Details: Read more on Viator Now!

If you have limited time, take a shorter private guided tour to explore the best of Rocky Mountain National Park.

You can still fit a lot into 4 hours, like a drive to some scenic overlooks on Trail Ridge Road, including the gorgeous Rainbow Curve .

Or you could choose to hike a short but stunning trail like the one to iconic Dream Lake.

“Great guide. very friendly and knowledgeable took us to great viewing areas great day and made us want to go back and visit the park again.” Kristen ( read more reviews now )

This tour is completely customizable to give you a Rocky Mountain National Park bucket list experience. Most travelers can participate since the tour can be designed to be inclusive for all ability levels.

Rocky Mountain National Park Self-Guided Tour

7. rocky mountain national park self-driving audio tour.

A view of the sun rising over one of the stunning alpine lakes in RMNP.

⭐️ Rating: 4.0/5.0 (42 Reviews) Price: $14.99 per person Duration: 2-4 hours 📍 Meeting Point: Varies Operator: Travel with Action Details: Read more on Viator now!

If you can’t book an actual guided tour of Rocky Mountain National Park, you can still get expert info to explore the park on your own with this Rocky Mountain National Park Self-Driving Tour .

You simply download an app on your phone (which works even if you’re out of cell service), and then follow the GPS to the top sights in RMNP.

“Very helpful. There is so much to see and do in Colorado! This was very helpful😎. This was the first road trip with just my daughter and I. It was nice being able to have background info while driving thru the park.” Penny ( read more reviews now )

While you drive, you can listen to info about the park and each point of interest that you visit.

This is a great way to spend one day in RMNP and check out the most popular destinations in the park, including hiking trails, RMNP lakes , mountain passes, and viewpoints.

Additional Colorado Travel Resources

Looking for more adventures in the mountains of Colorado? Check out these local guides:

  • The Sky Pond Hike in Rocky Mountain is a Must-See
  • The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip Itinerary
  • Unique Things to Do in Colorado

Meg Atteberry

Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

Let’s connect!

Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.

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  • Trip Styles
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  • Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Tours

Beautiful mountain lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • USA Hiking Vacations
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ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK TRIPS

With waterfalls, abundant wildlife, pristine rivers and creeks, the Rocky Mountains are truly a sight to see!

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Our Rock Mountain National Park hiking tours include Colorado backpacking trips , llama supported treks, a basecamp Rocky Mountain hiking tour, inn-based Colorado hiking tours, and Rocky Mountain National Park day hikes. All trips are all-inclusive and led by our award-winning hiking and backpacking guides. All trips are all-inclusive and led by our award-winning hiking and backpacking guides. To learn more or to plan Rocky Mountain hiking tours right now, call us at 1-800-715-HIKE between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. today!

Wildland Trekking is authorized by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, to conduct services in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Top Rocky Mountain Trips

Top rocky mountain national park hiking tours.

  • Guides Choice – Alpine Peaks, Lakes and Waterfalls Thru Hike
  • Most Popular – Thunder Lake Backpack
  • Most Remote – Rocky Mountain High Alpine Adventure
  • Most Adventure – Longs Peak Loop
  • Top Family Trip – Rocky Mountain Family Llama Adventure
  • Top Inn-based – Best of Rocky Mountain
  • Top Llama Trek – Thunder Lake Llama Trek
  • Top Camping – Rocky Mountain Basecamp Tour
  • Top Day Hike – Longs Peak Ascent

Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Tours Trip Styles

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Backpacking Trips

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Llama Treks

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Basecamp Tours

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Inn-Based Tours

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Day Hikes

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Snowshoe Tours

rocky mountain 1 day tour

All Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Tours Trips ( 23 results)

Filter trips, trip length.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Alpine Peaks, Lakes & Waterfalls Thru Hike

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Best of Rocky Mountain Tour

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Mummy Mountain Llama Trek

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Across the Divide

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Basecamp Tour

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain Family Llama Adventure

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Thunder Lake

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Thunder Lake Llama Adventure

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Longs Peak Loop

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Wild Basin Explorer

Photographer capturing alpine magic in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Western Rockies Inn-based Tour at Grand Lake

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Rocky Mountain High Alpine Adventure

rocky mountain 1 day tour

WHY HIKE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK WITH US?

rocky mountain 1 day tour

1. TOP HIKING COMPANY IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

We have earned the top hiking and backpacking company spot in Rocky Mountain National Park on Trip Advisor by providing high quality trips with fantastic guides, wonderful food, top-of-the-line gear, solid risk management and a love for Colorado’s Rocky Mountains! Our Colorado guides are passionate about sharing their love of the Rockies with their guests and it shows in our online reviews and post-trip evaluations, 98% of which are “Excellent.”

rocky mountain 1 day tour

3. EXCEPTIONAL TREKKING GUIDES

Wildland Trekking guides are some of the very best in the outdoor adventure industry. We know this to be true because we listen to our guests’ feedback and contrast it with average statistics for adventure travel companies. Wildland Trekking holds #1 spots on 6 different national park Trip Advisor pages in the United States. As mentioned above, our post-trip evaluations are 98% “Excellent,” which is several points above the industry average of 94% “Excellent.” And, as you can see, our industry is doing well to begin with! Wildland guides are selected not only because they love hiking and backpacking, but because they are equally passionate about sharing that love with others. And it shows.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

5. ALL-INCLUSIVE TOURS

Wildland Trekking trips are all-inclusive, which means we are worrying about the pesky details of executing a Colorado hiking vacation so you don’t have to! Transportation (on multi-day tours), food, gear, other supplies, permits, first-aid, emergency communication, bear safety, reservations and more – we handle nearly everything. Many companies do not provide all of these things or charge more for them to be provided. When you hike with Wildland, we’ve got you covered!

rocky mountain 1 day tour

2. VARIETY OF WAYS TO HIKE COLORADO

We offer many different ways to hike and explore the great state of Colorado, and especially Rocky Mountain National Park! We offer guided backpacking trips for guests looking to challenge themselves on exciting, backcountry adventures that go deep into the mountains. We offer portered and llama-supported treks for folks looking to enjoy the backcountry, sleeping under the stars AND hike with lighter backpacks than on a backpacking trip. Our basecamp tour and inn-based tours are opportunities for people to discover, explore and enjoy Rocky Mountain on amazing day hikes with the comfort of wonderful lodging or camping accommodations at night. And finally, if your time is limited, our day hike tours offer long, fantastic hikes into the Park that take you to remote peaks, alpine lakes, glaciers, mountain cirques and more!

rocky mountain 1 day tour

4. AMAZING BACKCOUNTRY CUISINE

Food is a critical component of a premier Rocky Mountain hiking tour or Colorado backpacking trip. Not only are tasty meals important for enjoyment, they’re also an imperative piece of risk management. A hot, healthy, delicious meal fuels the body, mind and soul – it can boost morale in unmeasureable ways on a multi-day adventure. Our hiking trips are 3-5 days in length, and that can be a long time to be out in the wilderness, even on an inn-based or basecamp tour when you’re day hiking. Stopping to dine on gourmet meals is nourishing and revitalizing. And it’s part of what makes a Wildland trip a Wildland trip.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ROCKY MOUNTAIN TRIPS

Choosing the right rocky mountain hike.

Our Rocky Mountain National Park hikes include:

  • Rocky Mountain Backpacking Trips – Our backpacking tours give you the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most majestic features of the Colorado Rockies. Whether you’re a veteran hiker or just starting out, we have incredible backpacking trails that will fit you, from our basic Thunder Lake hike or the more daunting Mummy Range Trek and many in between. You can enjoy all kinds of natural wonders, from mountain lakes to glaciers to forests to flowering meadows.
  • Basecamp Rocky Mountain Hiking Tours – If you’re looking for a fantastic mountain hiking adventure without an overly long trek and a lot of heavy gear, you’ll love our Basecamp Rocky Mountain Hiking Tours. Carrying only a light backpack, you’ll get to see unbelievable mountain views, Colorado animal habitats like those of elk, deer and even bears, with evenings at a quiet, private campground with showers and delicious meals. It’s the perfect, relaxing, low-key tour of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Inn-Based Colorado Hiking Tours – Looking to combine a hiking adventure with a charming inn vacation? Try out of our Inn-Based Colorado Hiking Tours. By day, enjoy the full Rocky Mountain experience with adventures like wildlife exploration, visiting waterfalls, alpine hiking and snowshoeing, and by night enjoy the comfort of a delightful lodge in Estes Park. It’s the type of adventure vacation the whole family will love.
  • Porter and Llama Treks – You enjoy the full Rocky Mountain National Park hiking tour experience, and we handle all the gear. Carry just a light day pack as you follow our expert guides through the backcountry, while our courteous and professional porters or friendly trail llamas carry our supplies. Great guides, professional porters, friendly llamas high-quality gear and all meals are provided, so you can focus on enjoying your hike.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park Day Hikes – Day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park hiking are among our most popular adventures. You’ll enjoy a full day of great Rocky Mountain National Park hiking. Some people don’t always have a free week to explore the Rocky Mountains, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some of the best the Rocky Mountains have to offer. We make it happen with these one-day guided tours right into the heart of the Continental Divide. You won’t believe how much exploring we can pack into one day. You’ll see waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, alpine meadows and more, all under the watchful eye and guidance of our professional trip guide.
  • Snowshoe Tours – If you haven’t hiked the Rocky Mountains in winter, you haven’t hiked the Rocky Mountains. Our snowshoe tours give you the opportunity to experience the snow-capped winter Rocky Mountains up close in all their glory. You’ll enjoy four days of amazing snowshoeing past animal winter habitats, alpine lakes and some of the most breathtaking views anywhere. If four days is more time than you have, ask about our one-day Emerald Lake snowshoe tour.

WHEN TO HIKE Rocky Mountain National Park

The Colorado Rockies offer phenomenal year-round outdoor adventure. However, from a strictly hiker perspective, the best times of year are summer and fall. Summer is the peak season. Mosquitoes in Colorado do not tend to be very bad, which opens up the entire summer to trekking opportunities, unlike the northern mountains Wyoming and Montana, where the mosquitoes make backpacking in July hit and miss in terms of comfort and difficulty. Colorado also thaws out more quickly than its northern siblings and so the “summer” begins earlier. Great hikes can be had beginning in June and the wonderful summer temperatures last through August. In September, fall begins to creep in, and with it a truly magical transformation in Colorado. With massive elk herds, the bulls of which bugle in the fall as part of their mating rituals, and vast Aspen stands that turn deep yellow, orange and red, fall is truly a spectacular time of year to hike the Rockies. By early to mid November the mountains are becoming less hospitable, but for the hardier backcountry travelers, this time of year is still prime time. By mid November winter is normally setting in and the backcountry becomes a home for winter recreational enthusiasts, sleeping bears, and hardy mountain creatures.

PREPARING FOR YOUR Rockies TRIP

First, be sure you’re physically prepared for the trip you’ve signed up for. That means hitting the gym or exercising outdoors several days per week in the months leading up to your vacation. We heartily recommend the Stairmaster as a fantastic training tool for hikers. Additionally, you’ll want to be acclimatized for the higher elevations of the mountains. Plan on arriving a couple days early and spending some time in Denver or Estes Park so your body can produce additional red blood cells that are required at higher elevations. Finally, hydrate hydrate hydrate! Especially at altitude you can easily become dehydrated, but also because Colorado is a dry climate. If you’re coming from a most climate, your body may become rapidly dehydrated if you’re not drinking plenty of liquids. Finally, mix some electrolyte mix in with your water to avoid hyponatremia , which happens when you exercise and drink lots of water without salt and other minerals your body needs.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN VISITOR INFORMATION

Tips for visiting rocky mountain national park.

  • VISITING ROCKY MOUNTAIN : Get info on what to do, when to visit, how to get there, best hikes, best tours and more.
  • BEST TIME TO VISIT ROCKY MOUNTAIN : Find detailed information about when to visit the Rocky based on what you want to do and see.
  • WHAT TO SEE IN ROCKY MOUNTAIN IN ONE DAY : Only have one day at Rocky Mountain National Park? Make the most of it by following our expert tips!
  • BEST ROCKY MOUNTAIN TOURS : Learn about the top tours and recommended companies for fishing, rafting, photography hiking and more!
  • BEST ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIKES : Find out what our top recommended hikes are with recommended pack lists and more.
  • HOW TO HIKE LONGS PEAK : Learn what it takes to hike Longs Peak – training, packing, route information and more!
  • VISITING IN THE SPRING : Find about everything you need to know about visiting in the spring months of March through May.
  • VISITING IN THE SUMMER : Find about everything you need to know about visiting in the summer months of June through August.
  • VISITING IN THE FALL : Find about everything you need to know about visiting in the autumn months of September through November.
  • VISITING IN THE WINTER : Find about everything you need to know about visiting in the winter months of December through February.
  • ROCKY MOUNTAIN BACKPACKING PERMITS : Learn about the national park backpacking permit system and how to secure permits for your trip.

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Moscow Metro Underground Small-Group Tour - With Reviews & Ratings

Moscow metro underground small-group tour.

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Tour Information

Key Details

  • Mobile Voucher Accepted
  • Free Cancellation
  • Duration: 3 Hrs
  • Language: English
  • Departure Time : 10:00 AM
  • Departure Details : Karl Marks Monument on Revolution Square, metro stop: Square of Revolution
  • Return Details : Metro Smolenskaya
  • If you cancel at least 4 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is no cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel within 3 day(s) of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee.
  • Tours booked using discount coupon codes will be non refundable.

Go beneath the streets on this tour of the spectacular, mind-bending Moscow Metro! Be awed by architecture and spot the Propaganda , then hear soviet stories from a local in the know. Finish it all up above ground, looking up to Stalins skyscrapers, and get the inside scoop on whats gone on behind those walls.

Know More about this tour

We begin our Moscow tour beneath the city, exploring the underground palace of the Moscow Metro. From the Square of Revolution station, famous for its huge statues of soviet people (an armed soldier, a farmer with a rooster, a warrior, and more), we’ll move onto some of the most significant stations, where impressive mosaics, columns, and chandeliers will boggle your eyes! Moreover, these stations reveal a big part of soviet reality — the walls depict plenty of Propaganda , with party leaders looking down from images on the walls. Your local guide will share personal stories of his/her family from USSR times, giving you insight into Russia’s complicated past and present. Then we’re coming back up to street level, where we’ll take a break and refuel with some Russian fast food: traditional pancakes, called bliny. And then, stomachs satiated, we are ready to move forward! We’ll take the eco-friendly electric trolleybus, with a route along the Moscow Garden Ring. Used mainly by Russian babushkas(grannies) during the day, the trolleybus hits peak hours in the mornings and evenings, when many locals use it going to and from their days. Our first stop will be the Aviator’s House, one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters, followed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs — and you’ll hear the legends of what has gone on inside the walls. Throughout your Moscow tour, you’ll learn curious facts from soviet history while seeing how Russia exists now, 25 years after the USSR.

Local English-speaking guide

Pancake snack and drink

Additional food and drinks

Tickets for public transport

Souvenirs and items of a personal nature

Tips and gratuities for the guide

Additional Info

Confirmation will be received at time of booking

Dress standard: Please wear comfortable shoes for walking. For your Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 12 people

Traveler Reviews

This tour exceeded our expectations. Nikolai (Nick), our tour guide, was very knowledgeable, thorough, and has a great personality. He didn't take shortcuts and really covered everything that was on the agenda in great detail. We saw beautiful metro stations and learned the history behind them, including many of the murals and designs.

We did the tour with Anna her knowledge and understanding of the History surrounding the metro brought the tour alive. Well done Anna!

This tour was amazing!

Anna was a great tour guide. She gave us heaps of interesting information, was very friendly, and very kindly showed us how to get to our next tour.

Amazing beauty and history.

An excellent tour helped by an absolutely amazing guide. Anna gave a great insight into the history of the metro helped by additional material she had prepared.

great tour and guide - thanks again

great will do it again, Miriam ke was very good as a guide she has lived here all here life so knew every interesting detail.a good day

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Moscow Metro 2019

rocky mountain 1 day tour

Will it be easy to find my way in the Moscow Metro? It is a question many visitors ask themselves before hitting the streets of the Russian capital. As metro is the main means of transport in Moscow – fast, reliable and safe – having some skills in using it will help make your visit more successful and smooth. On top of this, it is the most beautiful metro in the world !

. There are over 220 stations and 15 lines in the Moscow Metro. It is open from 6 am to 1 am. Trains come very frequently: during the rush hour you won't wait for more than 90 seconds! Distances between stations are quite long – 1,5 to 2 or even 3 kilometers. Metro runs inside the city borders only. To get to the airport you will need to take an onground train - Aeroexpress.

RATES AND TICKETS

Paper ticket A fee is fixed and does not depend on how far you go. There are tickets for a number of trips: 1, 2 or 60 trips; or for a number of days: 1, 3 days or a month. Your trips are recorded on a paper ticket. Ifyou buy a ticket for several trips you can share it with your traveling partner passing it from one to the other at the turnstile.

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On every station there is cashier and machines (you can switch it to English). Cards and cash are accepted. 1 trip - 55 RUB 2 trips - 110 RUB

Tickets for 60 trips and day passes are available only at the cashier's.

60 rides - 1900 RUB

1 day - 230 RUB 3 days - 438 RUB 30 days - 2170 RUB.

The cheapest way to travel is buying Troyka card . It is a plastic card you can top up for any amount at the machine or at the ticket office. With it every trip costs 38 RUB in the metro and 21 RUB in a bus. You can get the card in any ticket office. Be prepared to leave a deposit of 50 RUB. You can get it back returning the card to the cashier.

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SamsungPay, ApplePay and PayPass cards.

One turnstile at every station accept PayPass and payments with phones. It has a sticker with the logos and located next to the security's cabin.

GETTING ORIENTED

At the platfrom you will see one of these signs.

It indicates the line you are at now (line 6), shows the direction train run and the final stations. Numbers below there are of those lines you can change from this line.

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In trains, stations are announced in Russian and English. In newer trains there are also visual indication of there you are on the line.

To change lines look for these signs. This one shows the way to line 2.

rocky mountain 1 day tour

There are also signs on the platfrom. They will help you to havigate yourself. (To the lines 3 and 5 in this case). 

rocky mountain 1 day tour

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    Go beneath the streets on this tour of the spectacular, mind-bending Moscow Metro! Be awed by architecture and spot the Propaganda, then hear soviet stories from a local in the know. ... If you cancel within 3 day(s) of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee. Tours booked using discount coupon codes will be non refundable.

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    Tickets for 60 trips and day passes are available only at the cashier's. 60 rides - 1900 RUB. 1 day - 230 RUB 3 days - 438 RUB 30 days - 2170 RUB. The cheapest way to travel is buying Troyka card. It is a plastic card you can top up for any amount at the machine or at the ticket office. With it every trip costs 38 RUB in the metro and 21 RUB in ...

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