How to make the most out of your one day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park!
Hello readers and fellow travelers! If you’re planning a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, I’ve got some recommendations on what to do! We were able to explore the park in one full day, and it was a very enjoyable and satisfying experience. Obviously, there’s tons more to explore, but this little piece highlights some amazing trails, drives, and views you might find interesting and worthwhile. Read on to learn how to plan your one day visit to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Of course, the more time you’ve got, the better! But, it can still be done if you’re looking to deliver an amusing and memorable experience with your family.
Trail Ridge Road Drive
Heavily trafficked – but for a good reason! It’s one of the most popular drives because it provides the individual with the most luxurious views and stunning experiences in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The entire paved road drive consists of a myriad of pull-offs and entrances to various trailheads. The 48 mile drive takes about 2-3 hours of your time, and each moment is totally worth it! The highest elevation you’ll reach is 12,183 feet above sea level. Be mindful of your sensitivity towards altitude sickness. At some point in the drive, you climb about 4,000 feet in under 1 hour.
Should you take this drive, all of the trailheads of the hikes I share below can be found along this scenic drive loop! Also, it will take you directly to the Alpine Visitor Center (a great halfway point!).
There are literally hundreds of hikes you could choose from! If you’re looking for some short hikes which provide amazing scenery and thrilling experiences, I have a couple to recommend to you! Each hike is easy, well-paved, and for the most part handicap accessible. These hikes are perfect for the whole family to do!
Hikes in RMNP
|Hike Name||Trailhead Name||Level of Difficulty||Duration||Elevation Gain|
|Bear Lake Trail||Bear Lake Trailhead|
|easy||0.7 miles loop||42 feet|
|Alberta Falls Trail||Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead|
|easy||1.6 mile loop||252 feet|
|Emerald Lake Trail||Bear Lake Trailhead|
|moderate||4.1 mile loop||708 feet|
|Hallet Peak Trail||Bear Lake Trailhead|
|hard||9.2 mile loop||3,254 feet|
|Mt. Ida Trail||Miner Pass Pulloff|
|hard||9.6 mile loop||2,388 feet
Monitor how you’re feeling and keep track of your breathing. Many people need some time to become accustomed to the high elevation. Some may even experience high altitude sickness, at least until they get used to the higher elevation. You know if the 12,000 feet in elevation is affecting you if: you’re light-headed, have trouble breathing, or are dizzy. Click here to learn more about high altitude sickness.
Bear Lake Loop
The Bear Lake Loop hike is very easy-going. The trail is paved all the way through, and the views of the pine trees and evergreens are remarkable! Keep an eye out for a bear… I couldn’t spot one, but I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere!
Bear Lake is very accommodating; there is tons of shade, many benches, paved paths, and tons of opportunities to snap a photo to add to the family album of explorations!
Alpine Ridge Trail
Should you find that you’re resting and soaking up the lovely view at the Alpine Visitor Center, you might as well hike up the Alpine Ridge Trail. There’s lots of stairs to hike up, but take it slow and enjoy the stunning 360 view of the Rockies! This short hike was worth the extra time we spent at the visitor center area. At the top, you are standing at a little higher than 12,000 feet above sea level. Look all around you, for you are surrounded by some remarkable mountains that take your breath away.
Alberta Falls Hike
The hike to Alberta Falls comprises of a peaceful and easy-going hike through the forest. Along the way, you’ll often catch songs of birds and the pitter patter of friendly wildlife! It truly was a refreshing hike to the falls. The path is relatively flat with some elevation.
Once you reach Alberta Falls, you’re immediately greeted by the stunning view. From the base to the top, you are in awe of the beauty of the falls. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even hike up along the waterfall to the top. I’d highly recommend it if you’re a skilled hiker who doesn’t mind getting the hiking shoes a tad wet. Careful of the slippery rock!
There’s so much more to explore! Don’t just stop at Rocky Mountain National Park. Click this link to see which National Park you should visit next!