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A Day Trip From Fort Collins: Rocky Mountain National Park

Majestic mountains, gorgeous wildflowers, abundant wildlife, the highest paved road in the U.S. (Trail Ridge Road), and over 350 miles of trails make Rocky Mountain National Park (dubbed “Rocky” by locals) a spectacular place to visit. Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park from Fort Collins is easy. Just a 1 hour drive from The Armstrong, it makes for an unforgettable day trip! Check out some of our favorite things about RMNP and plan your day trip today.

Trail Ridge Road Scenic Drive

Covering the 48 miles between Estes Park on the park’s east side and Grand Lake on the west, Trail Ridge Road features eleven miles of highway above the treeline, the elevation near 11,500 feet where the park’s evergreen forests come to a halt. As it winds across the tundra’s vastness to its high point at 12,183 feet elevation, Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of your car!

Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park’s heavily traveled highway to the sky, inspired awe before the first motorist ever traveled it. “It is hard to describe what a sensation this new road is going to make,” predicted Horace Albright, director of the National Park Service, in 1931 during the road’s construction. “You will have the whole sweep of the Rockies before you in all directions.”

Whether you begin their journey at Estes Park or Grand Lake, Trail Ridge Road travelers climb some 4,000 feet in a matter of minutes.

Estes Park

At the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is the historic mountain town of Estes Park. This quaint, alpine resort-style village offers shopping and dining, and the town is also home to the infamous Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Every September, Estes Park hosts the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highlands Festival, one of the largest Celtic festivals in the nation.

Mountains, Mountains, Mountains

Upon entering Rocky, you can take your pick of trails depending on your interest and fitness level. Round Mountain Adventure Trail check out Palisade Mountain, which is a 1.3 mile intermediate hike that boasts incredible views at the summit. It’s also a good spot to check out wildlife as well. Further past Estes Park you’ll find McGregor Mountain, Deer Mountain and Twin Sisters Peak.

Bear Lake

A little further into the park, Bear Lake is a breathtaking mountain lake that makes a perfect place for an afternoon hike or picnic. It’s great for younger kids, offering the chance to see deer and gorgeous views of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain.

Wildlife Viewing

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a plethora of wildlife, including Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Bears, Elk and over 350 species of birds.

So lace up those hiking shoes, grab your camera, pack a lunch and head out to Rocky for an unforgettable day trip!