skip to main content
Five Things to Do in Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park is without a doubt one of the most beautiful towns in the country. We are fortunate to be surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Rockies, as well as stunning foothills, fast-flowing rivers and creeks, and an abundance of wildlife. Although we only have about five thousand permanent residents, we welcome millions of people here each year from every corner of the world. 

Whether you are just down the road in Denver or Fort Collins or traveling from another state or country, you want to make sure you get the most out of your visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. There is so much to do and see that it can be challenging to narrow down your options if you can’t spend a lifetime here. 


High Peak Camp is located in Estes Park, and we have access to RNP, so we have some experience when it comes to exploring the Rockies. In this article, we are talking about some of the things you must do when you visit Rocky Mountain National Park.  

Five Things You Must Do When You Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully, it will help you narrow your options and get the most out of your trip.

1) Go Hiking

One of the best ways to explore RNP is on foot. There are thousands upon thousands of miles of trails in the Rockies. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Bear Lake: Easy | 0.6 miles | Loop: Beginning at the Bear Lake Trailhead near Estes Park, this is one of the shortest, easiest, and prettiest hikes in RNP. 
  • Alberta Falls: Easy | 1.6 miles | Out-and-Back: Beginning at the Glacier Gorge parking lot, this trail treats you to a large waterfall. 
  • Deer Mountain Trail: Moderate | 6 miles | Out-and-back: Beginning at the Deer Mountain trailhead, this popular trail will take you to some spectacular views. 
  • Twin Sisters Peak Trail: Difficult | 7.5 miles | Out-and-back: Beginning at the Twin Sisters Peak Trailhead near High Peak Camp, this is a challenging but beautiful hike. 
  • The Key Hole and Longs Peak: Very difficult | 15 miles | Out-and-back: Beginning at the Ranger Station at Longs Peak Trailhead, this is one of the most difficult but accessible long hikes in RNP.

2) Go Biking

For adventurous mountain biking thrill-seekers, the closest trail system is Hermit Park Open Space. Per Trail Forks:

“​​The 1,362 acres of Hermit Park Open Space nestle into the hills at 7,880-8,964 feet elevation. Ponderosa pine forests and wetland meadows characterize this beautiful property and its abundant habitat for an impressive variety of mountain wildlife.”

Quick Facts About Hermit Park:

  • There are eighteen trails at Hermit Park with varying degrees of difficulty. 
  • In total, there are three green, eight blues, one black diamond, and one double black diamond. Trail ratings are made in relation to trails in the surrounding area, so a black diamond here might be easier or harder than a similarly rated trail at your local trail system.  
  • Trailheads are accessible through gravel roads throughout Hermit Park. Riders can be shuttled to and from them, so you might want to look at the map and plan your routes to get the most out of your day.

There are other mountain biking areas like Crosier Mountain, as well as gravel and road riding throughout the area. You can find bike rentals and tours in Estes Park, some of which incorporate portions of Rocky Mount National Park.

3) Visit an Alpine Lake or Waterfall

There are few things more iconic in Rocky Mountain National Park than waterfalls and alpine lakes. If you are not used to being in the Rockies, you might not often see water cascading from a cliff or lakes so clear you can see the bottom. Some of the lakes and waterfalls you should visit include:

  • Alberta Falls (mentioned above)
  • Bear Lake (mentioned above)
  • Emerald Lake Trail 
  • Sky Pond 
  • Gem Lake
  • Dream Lake
  • Chasm Lake 
  • Mills Lake
  • Sprague Lake
  • Lake Haiyaha 
  • Ouzel Falls

You cannot miss visiting one of these amazing water options in RNP. 

4) Take a Scenic Drive on Trail Ridge Road 

From Estes Park, you can drive just a few miles to the entrance of RNP on Trail Ridge Road. Continuing on this road takes you on one of the most famous and scenic routes to what is essentially the top of Colorado and the United States. 

This drive is not, however, for the faint of heart. Whoever is behind the wheel must pay close attention to the road and ignore the temptation to gaze at the stunning Rocky Mountain scenery. It might be a good idea to switch drivers on the way down, so everyone gets a chance to sit and stare. 

5) Stay at High Peak Camp

While our facilities are not in RNP, we are close enough to provide guests with easy access. We are just a few minutes from downtown Estes Park as well. If you have a group that wants to have a chance at beating the crowds and having their choice of activities in Rocky Mountain National Park, contact High Peak Camp to book your retreat today