Corbitt's National Parks
     Rocky Mountain
              National Park


1915: National Park

1976: Biosphere Reserve

Size: 265,828 acres

2008 visitors: 2,757,390

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

This national park, located in north-central Colorado, contains some of the most beautiful and easily accessible high-mountain country in the United States. With elevations ranging from 8,000 feet in the green valleys to 14,259 at Long's Peak, a visitor to this park has opportunities for breathtaking experiences and adventures.

Tundra is found in one-third of the park above the tree line, and is a major reason why these peaks and valleys have been protected. More than a fourth of the plants found here are also native to the Arctic.

What You're Going to See

The most accessible parts of the park lie along Trail Ridge Road, a 50-mile paved road that's open during the summer only. It connects Estes Park with Grand Lake, and reaches a height of more than 12,000 feet. Trail Ridge Road meanders above the treeline for 11 miles and has many viewpoints. Old Fall River Road is a section of the original road that crosses the mountains and is open from West Horseshoe Park Junction to Fall River Pass. West of Endovalley, the gravel road is one-way uphill, to the west.

The paved road to Bear Lake offers access to a popular high-mountain basin. To help prevent congestion, a shuttle bus is provided during summer months. The beautiful lake is adjacent to a number of the park's trailheads. Note that the parking lots here and at Glacier Gorge Junction often fill early during summer. The Park has more than 350 miles of trails, and horses are allowed on many of them.

There are many things to do at Rocky Mountain National Park, including auto touring, backpacking, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, technical climbing, widlife watching, camping, and fishing. Ranger-led programs are offered throughout the year; the Junior Ranger program is available for children. There are five visitors centers that circle the perimeter of the park boundaries.

Personal Observations

Someday ...

Well, a word about altitude sickness. I took a two-mile walk at 10,000 feet at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah, and later that day hiked another 1.7 mile trail at 8,000 feet at Bryce Canyon National Park. I'm pretty sure I suffered from altitude sickness that night, with a blazing headache and serious nausea that lasted five hours. So take care at Rocky Mountain, since the park roads run at elevations from 7,500 to 12,000 feet above sea level. Signs of altitude sickness are nausea, dizziness, headache, insomnia, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.

Getting There

From the Denver area, US 36 northwest takes you straight to the park. It's a 63-mile drive, through Boulder and then Estes Park, that provides easy access.

Nearby Attractions

About 100 miles to the south is Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.