Explore the majesty of the Rocky Mountains! Scenic drives, hiking trails, campgrounds, fishing climbing and more! Kids will love seeing the variety of wildlife and stunning views. The park offers guided tours and educational programs for kids.
Remember the weather can change at a moment's notice. Be prepared. The website contains wonderful information of risks of the park, as well as safety measures.
We live approx. 1 1/2 hours from Estes Park, CO, and so we love, love, love to drive up for a day visit to RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park). We have four young children, ages 8 months-9 years, so we are pretty sedentary in our visits--we bring a picnic lunch in the summer months, find a picnic bench, take the well-paved road to the top of the mountain, sometimes stop at a playground or a fun, cheesy game of mini-golf. If you're more adventurous, there's tons of outdoor activities like horseback riding, snowshoeing in winter, hiking trails, etc.
One of my favorite spots in RMNP is Bear Lake, which is BEAUTIFUL in autumn, and it has a nice, wide walking path around the entire lake. We've even taken strollers on it. We also regularly visit the Alluvial Fan, which has a paved walkway, also good for strollers, and passes over a small creek, and has rock formations left by a severe flood in 1982.
Visits to Estes almost always include wildlife viewing. Elk are protected and therefore they hang out in Estes quite often, especially around late afternoon / early evening. We've also seen bighorn sheep, mountain goats, some cute chipmunks, and even a coyote (I think).
If you are anywhere near RMNP, you need to come and see these awesome mountains. The park has done an excellent job of making it accessible to families. We have taken some amazing pictures there.
One of the most beautiful places we have ever been. You could explore the park for days!! We have small children and they got a little "bored" with all the driving (sightseeing), so we made sure to stop at all the lookout points, get out, and stay awhile. Trail Ridge Road is a MUST!!!!! Be sure to bring a jacket as the temperature drops drastically as you drive to the top. Don't forget the camera and binoculars!
We spent a week at Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park with our kids (ages 8 & 15) and their grandparents - so much for everyone to do! Loved all the hikes which fit all fitness levels. Bear Lake is a great hike for everyone - very level trails and places to sit. Hike to Alberta falls (breath-taking) is steeper but we all made it to the top. Families with kids as young as 2 were on the trail. And Deer Mountain is a more agressive and longer hike for families.
We also visited the Alluvial Falls and climbed the boulders - perfect for tweens & teens. And we saw so many animals -- moose, sheep, elk, birds, marmot, etc.
My youngest also enjoyed becoming a Jr. Ranger with the fun programs they do in the park. Lots of hands-on and learning opporutnities for kids. Great program listings at all the ranger stations for weekly and seasonal activities.
My tips: everyone should have a backpack with water, jacket, sunglasses, hat, snacks and other items you need on every hike (rain comes in from nowhere at times). Also, hit the bathrooms before you start as they are usually not available on the trails. And see all the levels of the park - drive up to the Alpine area to see the snow and different landscape and wildlife that live there too.
This place is absolutely great. We stayed in the Cindy Cabin last summer. There is much for the kids to do. There is swimming, arcades, mini-golf, activities and its a great camping experience that you kids will love and never forget. It is also close to Estes Park, so you can take your family into town to enjoy; downtown Estes, go-karts, bumper boats, etc... There is so much wildlife to see on the way in and out too. My husband enjoyed it to because the cabins have a TV, so he didn't miss his sports. I especially enjoyed being able to cook and enjoy the meals that my family loves the most and the kids enjoyed making smores in the evening. I am attaching a link to the website to book your reservation.
We took the scenic route home from a long road trip and drove through Rocky Mountain National Park with our National Park Golden Access pass in hand. I can attest that this park is worth a visit even if you are only driving through. The one downfall to only exploring from the road is that your family will just want to stay longer and explore further. Note that if your family does love to visit National Parks, the $80 National Park Golden Access Pass is definitely a great buy – making a quick drive through a park worth it.
We drove highway 34 through the park in early July and there were several feet of snow along Trail Ridge Road and at the Alpine Visitor center. There are several pull-outs along this road, so if you are short on time, definitely take the time to snap a few pictures at each of these places along the summit. It’s a good idea to travel with some jackets as the summit gets pretty cool – less than 50 degrees when we visited early July. We saw several elk along the high elevation road and cute marmots at the visitor center.
There are several nice picnic areas throughout the park. We opted for a lower elevation picnic area along Timber Creek where the weather was a little warmer. Here we saw several moose in the willows along the creek.
In summary, Rocky Mountain National Park can be enjoyed even if it’s just a quick drive through. However, exploring from the road will peak (pun intended) your family’s interest to make this park a future destination when you have more time.
I absolutely love Estes Park. It is so pretty and a lot to see and do. There is wonderful shopping, horse-back riding, go-karts, min golf, a tramway and lots more. Plus its only about an hour or so from Denver. There are some great places to stay, including the famous Stanley Hotel (also a fun place just to tour). I would highly recommend visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park!
We stayed in Estes Park and spent several days hiking and exploring this beautiful place last October. We were thrilled that it snowed, so the mountain peaks were covered. Also, the trees were changing color, so the hillsides were golden yellow. We were surprised at the number of elk we saw, not only in the park, but in Estes Park in the parking lots and outside our hotel room! We've been to other places, searching for wildlife, but here there seemed to be an overabundance. There are many short but lovely trails that kids can easily manage. Our only disappointment was not being able to drive through the entire park because roads were closed due to an unusually early and heavy snow. We will definitely be back one of these days!
During the fall elk are in rutting season aka mating season. The elk tend to just hang out in Estes Park for this time. When we went 2 years ago we just drove around and the elk were just sitting along the road, it was cool to see something so up close and personal. Fly fishing is a big deal here too, this can be more challenging for young kids and a big investment to buy the supplies but there are many options for rentals and what not. Steams are abundant here and trout seem to be the catch of choice.
Let me start by saying my husband is crazy for elk. That is what first drew us to Rocky Mountain National park. Be sure to prep your kids on appropriate behavior around wild animals ahead of time, because they will be excited when they start to see the animals. So many things to do find animals, hike, ranger activities. See the park website for ideas.
We have been to this park 4 times and I went there ever summer as a child while growing up. It is the best park to take kids hiking because they have tons of great short hiking trails. Go see Alberta Falls, Mills Lake, Lake Hiyaha, Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and many more. None of them will disapoint and you will teach your child a lifelong love of hiking and snjoying nature. Pack a lunch every morning and set out for a day of free fun. THIS is the happiest place in earth.
RMNP is simply stunning! There are hundreds of miles of roads to drive, trails to hike, lakes to walk around and all of it is stunning! The scenery in each season is just breathtaking and I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy at least one thing in the park. There are so many activities (hiking, walking, driving) for anyone to enjoy.
This is a great family friendly place! Tons of trails, beautiful sights, camping, hiking, fishing, water, etc... The only thing to be cautious of is bears. There was a bear that visited our campsite the night before we were there, trashed the site and left. No food was in the tent. Just be smart, and bear aware!!
Taking a drive through RMNP can be an all day excursion or just a few hours depending on the road. At some of the highest points you can even stop to play in the snow in the summertime! Marmots abound and the views are breathtaking. The roads can be a little scary at times but there are so may worthwhile stopping point along the way that it's all worth it in the end.
Traveling to the highest point in the Rocky Mountains National Park can be nerve-wracking if you are the driver. But the kids will love the breath-taking views off the side of the mountain. You can drive to the observatory from May-September. You ride right on the edge of the mountains. The wildlife along the way is amazing. Elk, goats and possibly bear! The top affords a view like no other. When we were there in June the temperature at the bottom was 80 degrees. At the top, the kids were throwing snowballs at each other! Great for an impromtu science lesson.
For the athletic and energetic in the crowd, you can climb steps even higher up into the air. Grandma and grandpa can relax in the warm visitor center while the kids burn off some energy. Camping is available for those who wish to make a vacation out of the trip.
I think one of my favorite times of year to go here is in the fall, after there's been at least a little snow. The peaks are covered, the evergreens stand out, and the elk are always out searching for food. (don't get too close- sometimes they charge!) But it's great fun! You might even get to see a bear! :)
We love this park, and have bought an annual pass so that we can drive up and go for hikes, or just a long drive whenever the mood hits us... There are tons of trails, animals, and flowers. It really is breath taking and the kids enjoy it as much as the adults! There are waterfalls, and streams to flyfish in (but, please be sure to bring your buy spray... we were eaten alive by mosquitos last time!)
Even though RMNP is getting crowded, we still love camping at Moraine Campground. We suggest taking a walk or short drive to the meadow just after sunset to watch the elk or other wildlife. Also, up the meadow you can put your feet in the Big Thompson at the Cub Lake trailhead. We suggest you pick a campsite on the south west corner of the loops so you can walk to the meadow easily.
We love to camp here. Every time we visit we see lots of wildlife (tons of elk!) and the variety of hikes are perfect - at every age and stage with our children there have been hikes that suited us exactly. The ranger talks in the evenings are great fun as well. And it's super close to town so you can stock up necessities easily or have an ice cream trip!
This is quite the place to get a "Rocky Mountain High". You can get *very* high in altitude and also get a "high" for your soul. There is a wide range of activities in the park, and wonderful peaks and valleys. We love the Alluvial Fan area for hiking, the quaking aspen trees, the elk, and oh so much more! There is something for everyone here. Be sure to have plenty of batteries/film for your camera as photo opportunities abound everywhere!
I used to live in Denver and spent almost all my spare time in RMNP, so I know it better than the others, but in my opinion there's nothing like it. The central theme of this park is MOUNTAINS -- small front-range ones to the majestic snow-capped middle range. The park has something for everyone -- if you don't like to get out of your car, there are innumerable places to pull over and be overwhelmed by the scenery out the window. Deer, elk, and bighorn all are frequently visible from the roads, and tourists have trained the chipmunks, marmots, and birds to come right up to you whether or not you obey the park rules on feeding them. There are deep forests, wide open meadows, clear blue lakes and rushing streams. And oh yeah, mountains.
But if you DO like to get out of your car, it's a wonderland of all the above, plus quiet solitude and the cleanest air on the continent, all just a mile or two down (well, usually UP) the many trails. And it's completely new every season, from the spring-summer wildflowers to the winter snows. There are short nature trails, easy-to-difficult day hikes, long overnighters, and even technical climbs for the crazy ones; in short, hiking for everyone. I don't remember any stroller-friendly paved trails, however.
It's relatively crowded in the summer, especially on weekends (but nothing like Yellowstone or the Smokies), and you almost have it to yourself in winter. Limited concessions but plenty of toilets and picnic areas, and Estes Park is right at the park border with everything you could possibly need or want, including lots of reasonably priced hotels. The most direct route there is from I-25, either through Longmont or through Loveland (my favorite). You can also come from Granby in the south, over Trail Ridge Road, but that's closed all winter.