• Photo of golden aspen with Hallet Peak in the background. NPS Photo by J. Frank

    Rocky Mountain

    National Park Colorado

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  • Impacts from September 2013 Flood - Old Fall River Road, Alluvial Fan and Trails

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Hiking

Some trails on the east side of the park remain closed due to recent flooding. Click here for more information.

Where trails are open, backcountry travelers will encounter different conditions than they have experienced in the past. Most of Rocky Mountain National Park is designated wilderness, where self-reliance and adventure are expected. Hikers should be prepared to take responsibility for their own actions; search and rescue may be delayed. Be prepared to stay overnight even if you are a day hiker. Hiking poles may be helpful on uneven trails. Route finding skills may be required. Carry a map and compass and other backcountry travel essentials. Expect missing foot bridges, uneven trail surfaces, unstable slopes, falling trees due to soil moisture, rutted trails, damaged water bars and steps, standing water, difficult water crossings, and missing directional signs. Be prepared; hike at your own risk.

Check the latest Trail Conditions for information to help plan your hike.

 

Rocky Mountain National Park has 355 miles of hiking trails. They range from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs. If you are new to the park consult with rangers at the visitor centers and backcountry office. They can provide advice about trails which are appropriate to different fitness and experience levels.

As you plan your hike, keep in mind that park elevations range from 7,500 to over 12,000 feet. Even very fit individuals coming from lower elevations may experience altitude problems. Symptoms include headaches, shortness of breath, insomnia and rapid heartbeat. After a few days your body will have made some physiological adjustments to higher elevations, but full acclimation may take weeks. To minimize symptoms drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol, don't skip meals and get plenty of rest.

Although you may not feel thirsty, the "thinner" air at high elevations actually results in increased water evaporation from your lungs. Again, drinking extra water may prevent a bad headache or other altitude symptoms.

Ultraviolet light is stronger in the mountains because there is less atmosphere for the sunlight to pass through. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sun glasses and consider wearing a long sleeved shirt if you are out in the sun for an extended period.

If you have never hiked before or are traveling with children, check out the recommended accessible trails. Ranger-led walks are free and can increase your confidence while you learn more about the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to discover how traveling by foot brings you closer to nature.

Did You Know?

Ptarmigan in summer camouflage

The ptarmigan is camouflaged perfectly in summer, with "mottled rock" color, and in winter, when it takes on the color of snow.