Uprooted traveler logo

10 Hiking Safety Tips You NEED to Know Before You Go
(Including the App that Could Save Your Life)

12 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park for All Skill Levels

Last updated:
Photo of author

Rocky Mountain is one of the most popular U.S. National Parks—and it’s not hard to see why! With jaw-dropping mountainscapes, alpine lakes, and bucket list-worthy hikes, there’s something in this park for any kind of adventure lover. But with 355 miles of hiking trails, it can be hard to know where to spend your time if you only have a day here. Here’s 12 of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, from trails that are perfect for beginners to some of the most challenging adventures in the park. 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission, for which we are extremely grateful, at no extra cost to you.

Man standing in front of Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

Table of contents

How to get to Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is (surprise!) located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, right outside of Estes Park, Colorado, a little under an hour and a half northwest of Denver.

If you’re flying into Denver from elsewhere, I’d highly recommend getting a rental car to get to and around the park, as there’s really no public transit option to get here. However, if you don’t want to fart around with that, there are a handful of tours that will take you from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park (including to some of the hikes recommended in this article!), like this private option or this option, where you’ll head out on a sunrise tour of Dream and Emerald Lakes.

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

To enter Rocky Mountain National Park, it costs either $30 for a day pass or $35 for a week-long pass per private vehicle or, alternatively, is free with an America the Beautiful Pass. an awesome program where you get into all of the U.S. National Parks and over 2,000 federally managed lands by purchasing an $80 annual pass (it’s seriously such a steal!). 

Pssst... cell service is spotty, at best, around Rocky Mountain National Park so I'd recommend downloading offline maps on both Google and AllTrails before you head to the park. You'll need the AllTrails+ version of the app to download offline maps. Luckily, you can get a 7-day free trial, PLUS our awesome readers get a sweet 30% off discount for their first year—just use the code “Uprooted30” at check out! 

Timed entry permits for Rocky Mountain National Park

With over 4.5 million visitors a year, Rocky Mountain is the fifth most visited national park in the U.S.—and to control the crowds and protect the park’s precious resources, the National Park Service has instituted a timed entry permit system during its busiest seasons.

Light shining through the clouds on the Rocky Mountains along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

There’s actually two different kinds of permits that you can get, depending on where you’re headed in the park:

  • Timed entry permit is required from May 24 through October 14, from 9 AM to 2 PM, to access any area of the park except for the Bear Lake Corridor, which contains many of its most popular hikes.
  • Timed entry + Bear Lake Road permit is required to access the hikes along the Bear Lake Corridor, like Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge from May 24 through October 20, from 5 AM to 6 PM. You can also access anywhere else in the park with this permit—there’s no need to buy a general “Timed Entry” permit if you have one for Bear Lake Road.

For each of the hikes below, we have noted which of these permits are needed to access and park at their trailheads. 

Man hiking along a wooden boardwalk along the Emerald Lake Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

You can snag a permit here or, if you’re not lucky enough to get one on your desired date, you can always enter the park before or after you need a permit (i.e., to access Bear Lake Road without a permit, you’d need to enter the park before 5 AM or after 6 PM or for the rest of the park, you’d need to enter before 9 AM or after 2 PM). 

Outside of the park’s busy season (i.e., mid-October through mid-May), you don’t need a timed entry permit to enter.

Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Let’s get into it! 

Best Beginner Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

1. Alberta Falls Trail

Distance

1.6 miles

Elevation

226 ft

Difficulty

Easy

Alberta Falls along Glacier Creek in Alberta Falls hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike to Alberta Falls Trail

Year round but microspikes may be necessary in the winter.

Permit?

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road permit

Trail map

If you’re looking for one the best waterfall hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Alberta Falls should absolutely be on your list. Given its short length and minimal elevation gain, this is one of the best options for beginner or family friendly hikes in the park, while still offering more seasoned hikers plenty of ways to make this hike more challenging, like, for example, tacking on trails to Mills Lake or The Loch.

The Alberta Falls Trail departs from the popular Glacier Gorge trailhead, which is seemingly ALWAYS busy—so get here bright and early to snag a spot! Alternatively, you can park at the Bear Lake Road Park and Ride and take the shuttle to the trailhead. 

Shuttle at the Bear Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park

From the trailhead, the path unfolds alongside the rushing Glacier Creek and winds through a series of aspen groves. Rocky Mountain is known as one of the best national parks to visit in October, thanks to its aspen trees that turn a vibrant golden hue during the first few weeks of the month—and the Alberta Falls Trail just so happens to be one of the best spots to enjoy this display of fall foliage.

Approximately half a mile into the trail, there’s a clearing in the forest, where you’ll get your first panoramic vista overlooking the expanse of Glacier Gorge. Finally, at the end of your journey, you’ll get to see Alberta Falls, a 30 foot waterfall cascading down a rocky gorge below. 

Snowy Alberta Falls along the Alberta Falls hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Given that Alberta Falls is at a relatively low elevation as compared to some of the other trails in the park, you can enjoy it year round. However, come winter, you may find ice or snow along the trails, so we’d suggest checking the recent trail reports on AllTrails and bringing along microspikes or even snowshoes as necessary. 

Recommended by Erin of The Simple Salty Life

Pssst... before lacing up those hiking boots, be sure follow these key hiking safety tips that you should know before hitting the trail!

2. Sprague Lake Trail

Distance

0.8 miles

Elevation

36 feet

Difficulty

Easy

Sunrise over Sprague Lake along the Sprague Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to Hike Sprague Lake

June through October

Permit?

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road

Trail map

If you’re looking for one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, you can’t beat Sprague Lake. This flat and easy loop trail takes you around the eponymous reservoir, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

This hike is suitable for all levels of hikers and is also even suitable for wheelchair hikers or those with mobility issues, thanks to the number of benches you’ll find along the trail. You’ll follow along a number of wooden boardwalks and bridges that cross over marshy areas around the lake—these can be excellent areas to stop and keep a lookout for moose or elk that like to hang out in the water.

Elk found along Sprague Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the coolest things about Sprague Lake is that it offers an accessible backcountry campsite, about half a mile past the trailhead, that’s specifically set aside for hikers with disabilities. The campsite, which needs to be reserved in advance, can fit up to 12 people and has some nice facilities, including a privy, grill, and picnic tables. 

This is a popular hike so, if you want to enjoy it in peace and quiet, get here at sunrise—not only will you beat the crowds, but it’s an excellent time to see the reflection of the surrounding mountains in the glassine lake. 

Mountains along the Sprague Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Even if you get here early, though, we’d strongly recommend grabbing the shuttle along the Moraine Park Route, given there’s only three parking spots at the trailhead. 

Recommended by Meg of Fox in the Forest

3. Bear Lake Trail

Distance

0.7 miles

Elevation

49 ft

Difficulty

Easy

Couple sitting on a rock and looking at a mountain along the Bear Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike the Bear Lake Trail

June through September

Permit?

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road permit

Trail map

Bear Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, thanks to the fact that this flat and easy path is the perfect option for families or hikers with mobility issues. It also shares a trailhead with several other popular hikes, like the Emerald Lake Trail, so it’s a great add-on if you’re doing longer hikes. 

Wooden boardwalk along the Bear Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

True to its name, the trail circumnavigates Bear Lake, offering different stunning perspectives of the water, the surrounding pine trees, and Hallett and Longs Peaks, towering above. The flat and wide trail features a variety of different terrains, including wooden walkways, packed dirt, and gravel.

Most hikers visit Bear Lake in the warmer months, but it’s also an excellent beginner snowshoeing trail in the wintertime (here’s a great option for snowshoes for men and here’s an option for women). 

Longs Peak surrounded by pine tree forests along the Bear Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake has a large parking lot, but, given the popularity of this trail and the other hikes that depart from this trailhead, it fills up quickly. Unless you’re arriving here very early (like, at sunrise kind of early) during the busy summer and fall seasons, your best bet will be to take the shuttle from the Bear Lake Road Park and Ride.

Recommended by Stephanie by Explore More, Clean Less

4. Adams Falls Trail

Distance

0.8 miles round trip

Elevation Gain

104 feet

Difficulty

Easy

Moose along Adams Falls hike near Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to visit Adams Falls

May through November

Permit?

Timed entry permit

Trail map

The Adam’s Falls Trail begins at the East Inlet Trailhead, located on the west side of Grand Lake, near the quiet Kawuneeche Entrance of the park.

Wooden docks with mountains in the background near Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

This short and easy trail starts through a pine tree forest and climbs up a short series of stairs. After a quick climb uphill, you’ll follow the path to the right to see the falls. There’s a nice viewing platform over Adam’s Falls, which drops an impressive 55 feet into a rocky gorge below.

If you’re interested in just a short hike, you can continue along this trail, which follows the East Inlet creek for a bit and eventually loops back through the forest to meet back up with the path that will return you to the trailhead. 

Alternatively, if you’re up for a longer trek, the junction with the East Inlet Trail is just 0.2 miles past the waterfall. This is a much more challenging trail, at 18 miles long and 3,000 feet of elevation gain, but it does provide spectacular views of sweeping meadows and multiple alpine lakes along the way.

Stream and mountains along the East Inlet Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

No matter which route you take, keep your eyes peeled for moose. Grand Lake and the surrounding area is a hot spot for our antlered friends!

Recommended by Sonia of Carey on Travels

Best Moderate Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

5. Emerald Lake Trail

Distance

3.2 miles

Elevation gain

702 feet

Difficulty

Moderate

Woman sitting on the shores of Emerald Lake along the Emerald Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike the Emerald Lake Trail

June through October

Permit?

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road

Trail map

Emerald Lake is an excellent bang-for-your-buck hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, passing a whopping three lakes in just over three miles! 

The trail starts at Bear Lake, which is home to many popular trails and, thus, can be a challenging place to snag a parking spot, especially during the busy summer and fall seasons. If you can’t get a parking spot here, head to the Bear Lake Road Park and Ride and grab a shuttle to the trailhead. 

From the trailhead, the path climbs gently uphill about half a mile to the first lake, Nymph Lake, which has lots of pond lilies floating on its surface and excellent views of Hallett Peak beyond.

Woman standing on the rocks and looking at Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

As you continue on for about another half a mile, the trail will flatten out and you’ll get spectacular vistas of Longs Peak in the distance. Shortly thereafter, you’ll come to the rocky shores of the aptly-named Dream Lake, a postcard-worthy lake with breathtaking views of the surrounding Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain.

Finally, you’ll follow along the banks of Dream Lake for about another half mile, through a beautiful meadow and pine tree forest. Here, you’ll finally make it to Emerald Lake, a green alpine lake that’s surrounded by rugged mountains. There’s a nice rocky outcropping here that’s perfect for having a snack. Just be prepared, though—there’s usually plentiful chipmunks here and they can be straight up AGGRESSIVE if there’s food in the picture.

Woman standing on the shores of Lake Haiyaha hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

If that’s not enough lakes for you, consider adding on the Lake Haiyaha Trail, whose offshoot you can find near Nymph Lake. This option will add 1.8 miles onto the hike, but the extra distance will be well-worth it—you’ll climb to the rocky shores of a gorgeous, electric blue lake that’s usually WAY less crowded than the other bodies of water along the Emerald Lake Trail!

6. Odessa Lake Trail

Distance

9.5 miles 

Elevation

1,338 feet

Difficulty

Moderate

Mountains along the Odessa Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike the Odessa Lake Trail

June through October

Permit?

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road permit

Trail map

There’s actually a few different options to hike to the underrated Odessa Lake. For example, you can hike it as an out-and-back trail from the Bear Lake trailhead or, to enjoy more diverse scenery, we’d recommend hiking it as a point-to-point trail, starting at the Bear Lake trailhead and ending at Fern Lake. Here, you can catch the park shuttle back to your original parking spot.

As mentioned above, Bear Lake is a popular trail, but, once you’ve made it past this portion of the hike, the crowd will thin as you make your way towards Lake Helene.

Mountains along the Bear Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Following signs for Odessa Lake and Flattop Mountain, you’ll pass through a dense pine forest and get peekaboo views of Longs Peak in the distance. After about 3.2 miles on the trail, you’ll reach the unmarked side trail to Lake Helene on the left. It’s definitely worth the detour here, with Notchtop Mountain, towering at 12,129 feet, over the pretty subalpine lake below.

Once you’re done taking in the views of Lake Helene, you’ll continue to climb through the forest. A little over 4 miles into the hike, you’ll finally leave the dense tree coverage behind and be rewarded with absolutely spectacular views of Grace Falls, which tumbles almost 100 feet down Notchtop Mountain; the surrounding Rockies; and Odessa Lake. 

Mountains along the Odessa Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

From here, it’s a downhill hike to Fern Lake, where you can grab a shuttle back to Bear Lake.

Like many hikes in Colorado, the best times to hike this trail are July and August, when it’s free of ice and snow and vibrant wildflowers line the pathway. Alternatively, if you visit in early October, you can enjoy the spectacularly colorful fall foliage.

Recommended by Kate of Kate Roams the World

7. Gem Lake Trail

Distance

3.2 miles out and back

Elevation

987 feet

Difficulty

Moderate

Cliffs along the Gem Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike the Gem Lake Trail

Year-round

Permit?

Timed entry permit

Trail map

If you’re looking for a relatively short trail with spectacular views, Gem Lake is one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

This hike departs from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, found in a quiet section of the park that’s just about a five minute drive north of the charming mountain town of Estes Park. In fact, if you’re staying in town, you can even consider making the 45 minute walk to the trailhead!

Rocky outcropping along the Gem Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

While this trail is short, you’ll be climbing along a steep and steady incline through a pine tree forest for almost the entire hike. Luckily, it offers plenty of beautiful views of the town of Estes Park and the surrounding mountains and, at the end, you’ll be rewarded with a jaw-dropping vista of Gem Lake. Be sure to stroll around the lake—there’s actually a little sandy beach-like area on its western side that’s great for taking a breather on.

One of the best things about the Gem Lake Trail is that, as compared to many of the hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s at lower elevation and thus, can be hiked year round. That being said, it’s not unusual for there to be ice on the trail during the winter months, so be sure to pack microspikes, just in case.

Recommended by Katie of The World on My Necklace

8. Mills Lake Trail

Distance

5.2 miles

Elevation

826 ft.

Difficulty

Moderate

Mountain in the background of Mills Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike Mills Lake Trail

May through October

Permit?

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road permit

Trail map

This hike begins at the Glacier Gorge trailhead. 

Several of the Rocky Mountain’s most popular hikes leave from this trailhead, so the parking lot often fills up by 6 AM, especially during the busy summer and fall season. Accordingly, we’d recommend getting here early or, alternatively, parking at the Bear Lake Road Park and Ride and catching the park’s free shuttle to Glacier Gorge.

Woman looking at rocky cliffs along the Glacier Gorge hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Once you’re at the trailhead, you’ll climb along a gentle incline through a pine tree forest. After 0.6 miles, the trail will start following along Glacier Creek and, shortly thereafter, you’ll reach Alberta Falls, a beautiful 30-foot waterfall that careens down a narrow and rocky gorge.

Many hikers turn back here, so the crowds will thin out if you continue down the trail. You’ll come across a couple of junctions along the trail—at the junction with North Longs Peak Trail 1.6 miles in, you’ll take a right and, at the junction with the Loch Vale and Lake Haiyaha Trail 2.1 miles in, you’ll take the left pathway.

Snowy mountains along the Sky Pond hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Eventually, you’ll cross over a wooden footbridge over Glacier Creek and shortly thereafter, you’ll get your first glimpse of a small, but pretty waterfall, called Glacier Falls. You’ll finally reach Mills Lake, a beautiful subalpine lake, with stunning views of the surrounding Keyboard of the Winds, Thatchtop and Pagoda Mountains. There’s a nice patch of rocks along the shoreline that are perfect for having a picnic lunch or just taking a breather to drink in the views. 

If you feel up for a bigger adventure, you can consider exploring beyond Mills Lake to the neighboring Jewel Lake, before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.

Recommended by Sonia of Carey on Travels

9. Bierstadt Lake Trail

Distance

2.9 miles

Elevation

620 feet 

Difficulty

Moderate

Mountain in the backfround of Bierstadt Lake along the Bierstadt Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike Bierstadt Lake

May through October. 

Permit?

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road permit

Trail map 

The hike to Bierstadt Lake is a great option for trekkers seeking a bit more solitude along the buzzing Bear Lake Corridor, as it sees far fewer visitors than some of the more popular hikes in the area. Plus, this trail delivers epic views of the Continental Divide throughout the entire ascent of the Bierstadt Moraine! 

Bierstadt Lake is also unique in that it is formed entirely from snow melt and rainwater. There are no rivers or streams connected to Bierstadt Lake, and as a result, it’s one of the more shallow lakes in the park.

Man standing along the Chasm Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The trail starts with somewhat steep switchbacks but eventually levels out through a beautiful pine forest. From here, you’ll follow the flat path around the shores of Bierstadt Lake, where you can see the lake perfectly framed by the Rocky Mountains. 

You can return on the trail the way you came, or, for a bonus adventure, consider hiking about two miles to Bear Lake instead, where you can take the seasonal shuttle back to the Bierstadt Lake Trail parking lot to reunite with your car.

Couple standing on a boulder along the Bear Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Recommended by Sarah of That Colorado Couple

Best Challenging Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

10. Chasm Lake Trail

Distance

8.0 miles

Elevation gain

2,552 feet

Difficulty

Challenging

Couple standing on a rock in front of Chasm Lake and Longs Peak along the Chasm Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike Chasm Lake

June through October

Permit?

Timed entry permit

Trail map

The Chasm Lake Trail is one of the most underrated hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, ending at a stunning glacial lake at the foot of dramatically jagged mountains. 

This hike departs from the same trailhead as the popular Longs Peak trail, a challenging mountaineering route to the tallest mountain in the park. Adventurers looking to bag this summit typically start this adventure EARLY (as in, 4 AM early), so if you’re visiting during a particularly busy time (like during the weekend in the summer), I’d suggest getting here dark and early to ensure you can snag a spot. Just don’t forget your headlamp as you’ll likely be starting before dawn.

Woman hiking along the Chasm Lake hike with Longs Peak in the background in Rocky Mountain National Park

The first two miles of this hike are along steep switchbacks, cut into a dense pine tree forest. After this climb, you’ll pop out of the treeline and be treated to spectacular views of Long’s Peak in front of you and behind you, the Twin Sisters. In the summertime and early fall, this is also an excellent place to see colorful wildflowers, blanketing the surrounding meadows. 

For the next mile or so, the trail gets steeper and more rocky, with the view of Longs Peak getting better and better with every step. Eventually, the trail will even out and you’ll climb along the final ridgeline, with the beautiful Columbine Falls tumbling 110 feet on the trail to your left. And finally, after a steep scramble up some enormous boulders, you’ll reach the turquoise waters of Chasm Lake.

Man hiking along the Chasm Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

This trail is best enjoyed during the warmer months, when it’s free of ice and snow. If you do travel during the colder months, be aware that parts of the trail, especially the climb up to the lake, can be dangerous, due to avalanche risks, so be sure you’re well-trained in route-finding and have the appropriate avalanche gear, like a beacon, probe, and shovel.

11. Sky Pond Trail

Distance

8.6 miles

Elevation

1,771 ft

Difficulty

Hard

Mountains in the background in Loch Vale along the Sky Pond hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike Sky Pond

July through October

Permit

Timed-entry + Bear Lake Road

Trail Map

Sky Pond is one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, offering waterfalls, alpine lakes, epic mountain views, and some fun technical challenges along the way.

Snowy mountains along the Sky Pond hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

The trail leaves from the popular (and small!) Glacier Gorge parking lot. As with many of the busy trails along Bear Lake Corridor, unless you get here early (like, 6 AM during the busy summer months), you may want to consider parking in the Bear Lake Road Park and Ride and grabbing the shuttle from there. 

The Sky Pond hike passes many of the features highlighted in some of the shorter trails mentioned above, such as Alberta Falls. Once you pass Alberta Falls, you’ll continue to follow signs for Loch Vale, a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by pine trees and rugged mountains that’s 2.3 miles into the trail. 

Woman hiking in front of snowy mountains along the Sky Pond hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

After a bit more hiking over log bridges in a dense pine tree forest, you’ll reach one of the most unique sections of the trail—a rock scramble about 100 feet up Timberline Falls. Throughout most of the year, this waterfall is VERY much rushing, so prepare to get soaked with glacial water and ascend the slippery rocks slowly and carefully.

If you visit during the colder months, like we did, the waterfall might actually be completely frozen, leaving behind an icy rock wall—so know your limits and whether it’s safe to climb up Timberline Falls, given its slipperiness. 

Once you’ve made it to the top of the falls, you’ll have reached Lake of Glass, an aptly named lake that perfectly reflects the surrounding mountains. 

From here, find the cairns on the right hand side of the lake, where you’ll scramble along some large boulders. Finally, after half a mile, you’ll reach the banks of Sky Pond, one of the most beautiful lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park, framed by impossibly jagged peaks. 

Man standing by Nymph Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

It’s worth noting there are various options of how to hike Sky Pond—for example, you can add Mills Lake, Lake Haiyaha, or Dream Lake onto the trail for an even more action-packed adventure. Regardless of which option you choose, Sky Pond is one of the most epic hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park!

12. Lion Lake and Snowbank Lake

Distance

13.4 miles

Elevation

3,156 Feet

Difficulty

Challenging

Snowy mountains in the back of Lion Lake and Snowmelt Lake hike in Rocky Mountain National Park
When to hike Lion Lake and Snowbank Lake

Late June through September. However, don’t be surprised to see ice or snow on the trail year round—we’d suggest coming prepared with microspikes and trekking poles, especially if you’re hiking from early September through mid-June.

Permit?

Timed entry permit

Trail map

The Lion Lake and Snowbank Lake hike is one of the most challenging yet rewarding hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, offering views of three stunning alpine lakes, all of which sit at the base of impossibly rugged mountains.

This trail is located in the remote Wild Basin region of the park, just south of Estes Park. Because Wild Basin is a bit off-the-beaten path, you’ll likely have this trail largely to yourself. 

Mountains along the Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park

To access the trail, park directly at the Wild Basin Trailhead. There’s usually plenty of spots, unless you come on a particularly busy day, like a weekend in the summer. During these busier time periods, you may want to consider getting to the trail on the earlier side to ensure you can snag a parking spot.

From the trailhead, the path climbs along a gentle incline through a densely wooded forest. About four miles in, you’ll pop out of the treeline and the trail will become much steeper and rockier. However, there’s SO much to look at along this portion of the pathway—from rushing waterfalls and views of Mount Alice to dark blue alpine lakes and vibrant wildflowers in the summertime—you won’t even notice your burning thighs.

As with most hikes in Colorado, be prepared with plenty of warm, cozy layers, given that the temperature drops quickly once you reach high elevations. 

Stream and mountain in Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park

And if you visit on a particularly toasty day, consider wearing a swimsuit under your hiking clothes—Lion Lake is rather shallow, but Snowbank is perfect for taking a dip. Just be prepared for it to be CHILLY, given that Snowbank earned its name from a permanent patch of snow on its western shores.

Recommended by Natalie & Sam of Always Have a Trip Planned


There you have it—12 of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park! Do you have any questions about these hikes or visiting this incredible park? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading our post! Check out our latest stories here and follow us on Instagram (@UprootedTraveler), YouTube, or on Facebook to see what we’re up to next!

Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

Leave a Comment

Want to work with us?

Ask us any questions