Rocky Mountain National Park is located in the western half of the United States in north Colorado. The park extends from the east side of the mountains starting at Estes Park and crossing over the range to the town of Grand Lake on the west side of the mountains.
The national park boundary encompasses an area of 414.8 square miles (1,074.3 sq km) with the Continental Divide running through the middle of the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is also a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Rivers and streams on the west side of the divide flow toward the Pacific Ocean while rivers and streams on the east flow toward the Atlantic and gulf. There are approximately 450 (724 km) of rivers and streams flowing throughout the park.
Mountains are king for the national park with other attractions being wooded forests, alpine lakes, and a variety and abundance of wildlife. The park is the 3rd most visited national park in the United States.
The total park elevations range from 7,860 feet (2,396 m) to the tallest summit at Longs Peak at a height of 14,259 feet (4,346) making it one of the highest national parks in the United States. There are 5 additional peaks over 13,000 feet (3,962 m) and another 60 summits over 12,000 feet (3,658 m).
The national park is comprised of 5 geographical regions:
Moose & Big Meadows: renowned for large grassy areas, waterfalls, valley streams, marshes, and moose.
Alpine: Targeted for phenomenal lookouts and views and bighorn sheep
Wilderness: Explored for the more rugged forested wilderness, along with Ypsilon Mountain and Mummy Mountain, and waterfalls.
Heart of the Park: famous for easy access by both roads and trails, scenic views, and popular trails lake trails like – Bear Lake, Bierstadt Lake, Emerald Lake, and Dream Lake. Numerous trails past rock formations, arches, and waterfalls.
Waterfalls and Backcountry: renowned for Longs Peak and an abundance of beautiful waterfalls and cascades.
There are 7 glaciers still remaining in the park which include Andrews, Mills, Moomaw, Rowe, Sprague, Taylor, and Tyndall.
Rocky Mountain Highlights
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited and appreciated national parks in the United States. For those approaching from the west, the mountain scenery has already begun. The mountain landscapes combined with the Moose and Big Meadows create a diverse experience with nature.
The drive across the pass and along the continental divide is spectacular. However, the highlight is to get out and take some of the numerous trails that take you to scenic lookouts, waterfalls, forests, lakes, and ponds. Bear Lake is beautiful and features an easy trail that navigates around the lake allowing visitors of all ages and capacities to explore its splendor.
Rocky Mountain Highlights
- Trail Ridge Road
- Longs Peak
- Bear Lake
- National Geographic, Everything to know about Rocky Mountain National Park, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/rocky-mountain-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.
- National Park Service, Rocky Mountain, https://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm, retrieved September 2019.
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Park Cite, https://rockymountainnationalpark.com/, retrieved September 2019.
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Guide, http://www.rmnp.com/, retrieved September 2019.
- Visit Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, https://www.visitestespark.com/rocky-mountain-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.