Thing to Do

Hike Shadow Mountain Lookout

a sign reads shadow mountain lookout
Shadow Mountain Lookout

NPS Photo / N. Guarino

  • Distance: 4.8 miles one-way
  • Elevation Gain: 1,533 feet
  • Type of Trail: Out and Back

The Shadow Mountain Outlook was built in the 1930’s to identify and observe forest fires.

Today, this rustic building is the only remaining fire lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Shadow Mountain Lookout Tower is closed - do not climb the Lookout Tower.  

Visitors who hike the trail to the lookout tower enjoy impressive views of Shadow Mountain Lake, Grand Lake, and Lake Granby. Views along the trail are especially beautiful during the autumn months when trees begin to show their fall colors.

This hike is accessible from either the Grand Lake or Shadow Mountain Dam trailheads for the East Shore Trail.

Be mindful of weather conditions and avoid hiking to the summit if storms are likely to be in the area. Help preserve this historic structure by not entering the building or climbing on the outside.

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.

Pets Allowed
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
Grand Lake East Shore Trailhead

From May 27 to October 10, 2022, Timed Entry Permit Reservations are required to enter most areas of Rocky Mountain National Park between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. To access the Bear Lake Road Corridor, Timed Entry Permits are in effect from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Timed Entry Permit Reservations are only available to be booked through One Timed Entry Permit Reservation is $2.00 and non-refundable. 

Timed Entry Permits are vehicle permits. One Timed Entry Permit will cover one vehicle and all passengers in the vehicle. Timed Entry Permit Holders must enter the park during their reseved 2-hour reservation window. 

To learn more, visit the park's Timed Entry Permit Reservation webpage at

Accessibility Information
This is not a paved trail. This trail is extremely rugged with an elevation gain of 1,635 feet.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Last updated: July 15, 2022