Thursday, July 21, 2016

How to reach Rocky Mountain National Park

Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Sitting in Colorado’s famous Front Range about 90 minutes north of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is easy to reach.

From the south and east, Interstates 76, 70 and 25 converge upon Denver. From there, take I-25 north then exit onto U.S. Hwy. 36, which heads through Boulder on its way to Estes Park. You then can choose to enter the park via U.S. Hwys. 34 or 36 or Colorado Hwy. 7. A great hike to take near these entrances is the Alberta Falls Trail, which heads to a popular waterfall amid the mountain scenery.

If coming into Colorado on I-25 from Wyoming to the north, exit onto Hwy 34 and head east through Loveland into Estes Park. The Lawn Lake Trail, which offers an opportunity to see a lot of park wildlife, is easy to reach from this approach.

Those arriving from the west via I-70 can exit on U.S. Hwy 40 and head north through the mountains to Grandby. From there, take Hwy. 34 north to Grand Lake and into the park. The Colorado River Trail marks a good option for exploring this side of the park.

Anyone visiting who doesn't live at a high altitude should take a day to acclimate upon arriving in the park. There really is less oxygen that high up, and altitude sickness can be a problem if you jump right into hiking the sights.

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks series.