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.
Size and Features
- Official Park Gross Acres: 265,807.25 ac (107,568.38 ha) (includes inholdings)
- Square Miles: 415.32 sq m (1075.67 sq km)
- Wilderness Acres: Designated 252,298 ac (102,101.38 ha). Potential additions 368 ac (149 ha). 94.9 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 Precipitation
- 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.
- Birds: 280
- Fish: 7 native, 4 exotic
- Mammals: 66 species are known to be native to the area. Three of these–grizzly bear, gray wolf, and bison–are locally extinct. Two others–lynx and wolverine–are extremely rare and may be locally extinct.
- Butterflies: 142 confirmed species
- Vascular plants: 1100 approximately
Threatened Species: Greenback cutthroat trout, Canada lynx
Proposed Threatened Species: Wolverine
Candidate Species: Arapahoe snowfly
View a complete list of species on the IRMA NPSpecies page.
- 100+ exotic plant species. 42 are considered invasive with potential to displace native plants.
- 9 vertebrate species
Wildlife Population Estimates
- Bears: 20–24
- Bighorn Sheep: 350+
- Coyotes: Common
- Deer: 300–500 in Estes Valley in winter, more during seasonal spring and fall migrations
- Elk: 200–300 winter in the park. 400–500 winter in Estes Park
- Moose: 40–60 on west side. Increasing on east side.
- Mountain Lions: Present in low numbers. Rarely seen.
Roads and Trails
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in North America, with a high point of 12,183 feet (3,713 meters).
- Paved Roads: 92 mi (148 km)
- Unpaved Roads: 28 mi (45 km)
- Hiking Trails: Approximately 355 mi (571 km)
- Shuttle Operations: 733,589 total riders in 2018
- January 26, 1915
Establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park (16 USC 191)
- January 17, 1977
Inclusion in the international system of Biosphere Reserves (UNESCO)
Designation of park as Class 1 airshed (1977 Amendment to Clean Air Act)
- November 10, 1978
Establishment and designation of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail including sections within RMNP (Public Law 95-625)
- October 30, 1986
Designation of Cache la Poudre River within RMNP (14 miles as Wild River) as a unit of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (P.L. 99-590)
Designation of Trail Ridge Road as All American Road by the U. S. Department of Transportation (National Scenic Byways Program) and designation as a State Scenic Byway
Prohibition of Commercial Air Tour Operations (§806, National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000, P.L. 106-181)
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center/Headquarters designated as National Historic Landmark
- August 24, 2001
Designation of RMNP as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy
- March 30, 2009
Designation of Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness (P.L. 111-11)
A variety of sites in RMNP are on the National Register of Historic Places, including prehistoric archeological sites, buildings, structures including roads and bridges, and even a snowplow.