THING TO DO

Hike the Alpine Ridge Trail

Alpine Visitor Center view from Alpine Ridge Trail
Alpine Visitor Center view from Alpine Ridge Trail

NPS Photo / Ann Schonlau

  • Distance: 0.6 mile round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 209 feet
  • Trail Type: Out & Back, Moderate

Starting from the Alpine Visitor Center parking lot, this is a very short hike. But don't let it fool you - it can be very difficult at this high altitude. The starting elevation is near 11,796 feet, so visitors not acclimated to the elevation may have a hard time climbing the steps up to the top. Take your time, take frequent stops, and bring plenty of water. There are interpretive signs along the way to stop and read and catch your breath. In spring and early summer, look down and be sure to notice the rare alpine flowers. Alpine avens, moss campions, and alpine forget me nots can be found here. At the top and end of the hill you will get beautiful vistas of the Never Summer Mountains, high peaks in the park, and may see the plains of Wyoming on a clear day.

Tread Lightly: Please stay on the paved asphalt trail and do not pick flowers to protect these fragile alpine tundra plants.This fragile ecosystem requires care and sensitivity, please do not go off the trail. Repeated footsteps often destroy tundra plants, allowing exposed soil to blow away. Recovery may take hundreds of years, so please use designated trails when exploring this unique area.

Note: Pets are prohibited on ALL park trails, tundra, and meadow areas. Leashed pets are only allowed in picnic areas, parking lots, campgrounds, and along roadsides

Altitude Warning: Altitude sickness affects many visitors every year. Symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, and even unconsciousness. Altitude can also aggravate pre-existing conditions like heart and lung disease. Take your time, drink water, eat, and rest. The only cure for altitude sickness is to go down to a lower altitude.

Weather Warning: Weather in the mountains can turn in an instant! Be prepared for changing weather conditions. Check the forecast before heading out. Lightning can strike anywhere in Rocky. Watch for building storm clouds and return to the trailhead immediately if you hear thunder. As a rule of thumb, try to be back at the trailhead by noon.

Details
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
Extreme weather can change the status of Trail Ridge Road at any time—be ready to adjust your travel plans if needed, and always check the weather before you start your drive.
Accessibility Information
This is a paved trail. Be aware of high elevation gain. Altitude sickness affects many visitors every year. Symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, and even unconsciousness. Altitude can also aggravate pre-existing conditions like heart and lung disease. Take your time, drink water, eat, and rest. The only cure for altitude sickness is to go down to a lower altitude.

Last updated: November 12, 2020