A colleague once wrote, “Why did the elk cross the road in Rocky Mountain National Park? Because it’s their Park.” Venture into their world, at Colorado’s most visited destination, but give them a wide berth.
The Park’s diverse terrain and network of trails range from accessible strolls to challenging treks, from alpine lakes to high-country meadows. The seasons offer dynamic experiences, with colorful summertime wildflowers, golden aspens in the fall, and snow-covered towering peaks in the winter. (I love snowshoeing and backcountry skiing on otherwise inaccessible trails and roads in RMNP.) You’ll find abundant wildlife and deeply awe-inspiring landscapes in every direction. Thank goodness the Park was established in 1915 and remains a reverential realm.
Park grandeur meets small-town Estes Park, the eastern gateway to RMNP. The family-friendly town straddles the line between honky tonk and handy — with walkable streets, one-off shops, cozy eateries, and touristy galleries. The landmark Stanley Hotel adds some gravitas to Estes. — Kim Grant