Rocky Mountain National Park has 355 miles of hiking trails. These range from flat lakeside strolls to quite steep peak climbs. If you are new to the park, rangers at the visitor centers and backcountry office can provide advice on trails that are appropriate for different fitness and experience levels.
As you plan your hike, keep in mind that park elevations range from 7,500 to over 12,000 feet. Even very fit individuals coming from lower elevations may experience altitude problems. Symptoms include headaches, shortness of breath, insomnia, and rapid heartbeat. After a few days your body will have made some physiological adjustments to higher elevations, but full acclimation may take a weeks. To minimize symptoms drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol, don't skip meals, and get plenty of rest.
Although you may not feel thirsty, the "thinner" air at high elevations actually results in increased water evaporation from your lungs. Again, drinking extra water may prevent a bad headache or other altitude symptoms.
Ultraviolet light is stronger in the mountains because there is less atmosphere for the sunlight to pass through. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sun glasses, and consider covering up with a long sleeved shirt if you are out in the sun for extended periods.
If you have never hiked before or are traveling with children, check out the recommended accessible trails. Ranger-led walks are free and can increase your confidence while you learn more about the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to discover how traveling by foot brings you closer to nature.
(Unless otherwise indicated, the distance shown below is one-way.)
An excellent interpretive nature trail circles this popular subalpine lake at the end of Bear Lake Road.
Glacier Creek thunders down this spectacular waterfall that ranks as one of the park's more popular hiking destinations.
Deer Mountain Deer Ridge Jct. 3.0 Moderate Fine views, pleasant hiking and a picnic on top make this trip a hiking favorite. Summit elevation 10,013' (gain of 1083').
These trails are some of the more accessible hikes available to winter visitors. Before each outing, check with park rangers for local snow conditions and current avalanche hazards. The distances listed for the following hikes are one-way.
Getting There: Follow Highway 34 into Horseshoe Park. Turn onto Endovalley Road at the west end of Horseshoe Park and follow Endovalley Road over the bridge to the road closure.
Beyond the Basics: From the West Alluvial Fan parking lot, hike 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the junction of Endovalley Road and Old Fall River Road. Along the way, you pass the remains of cabins used by the prison laborers who built Old Fall River Road early in the century. At the road junction, take the right fork and continue up Old Fall River Road one mile to the falls. Upon reaching Chasm Falls notice beautiful, but dangerous, ice formations. Negotiate this zone with caution. Chasm Falls elevation 8,960 feet.