Rocky Mountain National Park is about 60 miles northwest of Denver and provides some outstanding scenery and wildlife viewing. The town of Estes Park sits just outside the boundaries and some people refer to Rocky Mountain National Park as Estes Park, partly because if you are going to stay in something other than a camp site while visiting it will probably be in Estes Park. There are 5 drive in campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park and you’ll need to make reservations Before You Go.
The elevation in Rocky Mountain National Park ranges from 8,000 feet in the valleys to 14,259 at the top of Longs Peak. That range elevation provides for some very different views, from grassy meadows to rocky tundra. The park also contains some lakes and streams that, combined with the background of the rockies, make for some of the best views in the country.
The park also has 359 miles of trails that provide excellent hiking. There are all sorts of hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, some hikes are long and difficult, others are short and easy. One great and very short hike is Horseshoe Falls. You get there from the Alluvial Fan trail. To get there Fall River entrance to the park, follow the road past Sheep Lakes and turn right onto Old Fall River Road. As you are driving down this road you will see Horseshoe Falls on your right. There are a couple parking areas that you can start the hike from.
There is a short walk up the Alluvial Fan trail to a bridge with a great view of the falls. You can cross the bridge and continue up closer to the falls and you can even continue walking up and around the rocks after the trail ends.
During the winter the park is also a fantastic destination for snowshoes and cross-country skiing.
Possibly the best time of year to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is during the elk rut, or mating season, that happens in September and October. The park will be extremely crowded during this time of year, but it it worth fighting the crowds. You’ll get to see and hear the bull elk as they gather harems and you may even see the occasional fight break out between competing bulls. As an added bonus, this takes place during the fall, when the park comes alive with fall colors.