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Rocky Mountain National Park's Greatest Hikes

Rocky Mountain National Park's Greatest Hikes

Lace up your boots and get ready to explore the vast wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park, where the windswept tundra contains an ecosystem of hundreds of species of wildflowers, and the sculpted peaks silhouetted in opposition to the blue sky function a dramatic reminder of the final ice age. Traverse this great spine of the Continental Divide and listen for bugling elk or spot contemporary bear scat beneath your feet. Come celebrate the 100th anniversary of one in every of America’s oldest national parks in the time-honored tradition – backpack on, walking sticks in hand and sense of marvel restored.

It’s a big place, so to help you discover your means, here are some of Rocky Mountain’s finest hikes.

Bear Lake
Bear Lake is one of the park’s hottest destinations for first-time visitors, and with good reason. From right here you’ll have a entrance-row vantage level of the dramatic glacial valleys and hulking granite summits that make Rocky Mountain such a singular landscape. With ten lakes within the area and superb vistas, you should undoubtedly expect massive crowds.

Hikes here range from easy jaunts around Bear Lake (0.5 miles) or to Alberta Falls (1.6 miles) to more challenging excursions that comply with the glacial valleys as much as their origins. Mills Lake (5.6 miles) is an effective choice, as is the Loch (6.2 miles), which can be extended to the exquisite Lake of Glass and Sky Pond (9.eight miles), ski posters each of which are as serene as their names suggest. And while Flattop Mountain (12,324ft, 8.8 miles) may not be the park’s greatest summit, there’s no denying its magnetic pull from down below. Use the park shuttles to get to the trailhead.

Bear Lake to Fern Lake
This dayhike is a ranger favourite and known for its diverse scenery. On this hike you'll climb as much as the treeline and an alpine lake before dropping back down by means of fields of scree and right into a forested valley. Here you’ll pass more lakes, waterfalls, aspen groves and elk-inhabited meadows.

Due to the park shuttle system, this is a one-method journey that requires no backtracking – and what’s more, it’s principally downhill. You may’t miss Lake Helene, which sits serenely beneath the imposing rough-reduce cliffs of Notchtop and Flattop mountains. To do this hike, park at Fern Lake Trailhead (the endpoint), then take the shuttle to Bear Lake Trailhead. Shorten the trip by merely going to Lake Helene and back (5.eight miles).

Longs Peak & Chasm Lake
Iconic in every manner, Longs Peak is the pinnacle of RMNP and certainly one of Colorado’s traditional climbs. The tallest peak within the park (14,259ft), its exhilarating and exhausting Keyhole Route is on many visitors’ to-do list. The highest of this route is the crux, consisting of slender traverses, vertiginous cliff faces and coronary heart-pounding clambering up polished slabs of rock. Most people begin the climb by 3am with a purpose to attain the summit earlier than noon.

The great news is that you don’t have to achieve the summit or flip your legs to jelly. Chasm Lake, situated on the foot of the Diamond – Longs’ legendary east face where technical climbers rope up to scale the 1000ft wall – is routinely rated as one of the park’s best hikes. Chasm options all the spectacular scenery of the peak with out the risk and arduous ascent. Nonetheless, at 8.four miles round trip, you’ll nonetheless need to be in excellent shape.

Gem Lake
On the northeastern finish of the park is Lumpy Ridge, composed of 1.eight-billion-year-old granite formations that were sculpted by the weather somewhat than by glaciers. This markedly completely different fashion of abrasion has resulted in an array of whimsically shaped boulders, balancing rocks and colossal domes. The trail to Gem Lake is an effective way to discover the realm, with superb vistas back to the Continental Divide all the best way up to the bijou-like lake.