To preserve the high-elevation ecosystems and wilderness characters of the southern Rocky Mountains within its borders and to provide the freest recreational use of and access to the park's scenic beauties, wildlife, natural features and processes, and cultural objects.
Rocky Mountain National Park provides exceptional access to wild places for visitors to recreate and experience solitude and outstanding scenic beauty. Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States, and the park’s extensive trail system bring visitors to the doorstep of a variety of wilderness-based recreational opportunities.
Fragile alpine tundra encompasses one-third of Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the largest examples of alpine tundra ecosystems protected in the contiguous United States.
Glaciers and flowing fresh water carved the landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is the source of several river systems, including the Colorado River and the Cache la Poudre, Colorado’s first and only designated wild and scenic river.
The dramatic elevation range within the park boundary, which spans from 7,600 feet to 14,259 feet and straddles the Continental Divide, allows for diverse terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, varied plant and animal communities and a variety of ecological processes. The park is designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural (UNESCO) international biosphere reserve and globally important bird area, with portions of the park’s montane, subalpine, and alpine ecosystems managed as research natural areas for scientific and educational purposes.
The mountainous landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park has drawn people to the area for thousands of years. Visitors can see remnants of the different ways people have used this land over time, ranging from prehistoric big game drives to dude ranching to recreational tourism.
2016 Recreation Visitation
Total number of recreation visitors in 2016: 4,517,585, the park's record highest annual visitation.
Official Park Gross Acres: 265,795 ac (107,563 ha) (includes inholdings)
Square Miles: 415 sq m (1076 sq km)
Wilderness Acres: Designated 252,085 ac (102,015 ha). Potential additions 360 ac (146 ha). 95 percent of the park is designated Wilderness.
Tundra Acres: 89,099 ac (36,057 ha)
Highest Elevation in the Park: Longs Peak 14,259 ft (4,346 m)
Named Peaks: There are 124 named peaks 8,789 feet or high in the park. Of those:
118 are above 10,000 feet
98 are above 11,000 feet
77 are above 12,000 feet
20 are above 13,000 feet
1 is above 14,000 feet
Average Annual Percipitation
Estes Park 2000–2010: 16.8 in (42.7 cm)
Grand Lake 1981–2010: 19.9 in (50.6 cm)
Lakes: 147 lakes, many with fish, covering 1,151 acres (466 hectares)
The Continental Divide angles through RMNP for 42 miles northwest to south-central from the ridgetops of the Never Summer Mountains, south at La Poudre Pass, across Trail Ridge Road at Milner Pass (10,758 ft/3,548 m), through the park’s core, and finally at Ogallala Peak on the park’s southern boundary.
Fish: 7 native, 4 exotic
Mammals: 66 species are known to be native to the area. Three of these&endash;grizzly bear, gray wolf, and bison&endash;are locally extinct. Two others&endash;lynx and wolverine&endash;are extremely rare and may be locally extinct.