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Rocky Mountain National Park Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

colorado's

rocky mountain national park sits high

on the continental divide

and is part of the rocky mountains range

which runs from canada

to new mexico

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in the 1870s english adventurer

isabella byrd visited this part of the

rockies

and was moved to write i have found a

dream

of beauty at which one might look at

all one's life and sigh

150 years later that dream continues

preserved within a 415 square mile

national park

just 70 miles from denver

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welcome to a dream where wildlife roams

free

amid cool meadows and forests of fur

a dream where chains of sub-alpine lakes

form mirrored steps into the sky and

alpine tundras lift

over 60 granite peaks 12 000

feet into the heavens

today this dream can be experienced by

visitors of

all ages and abilities via 350 miles of

hiking trails

and on two of the highest scenic roads

in the usa

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most visitors begin their rocky mountain

adventure

at the eastern entrance just outside

estes park

in summer time traffic can be a headache

so leave your car at the beaver meadows

visitor center

and take the free shuttles to and from

the park's popular eastern trailheads

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just seven miles into the park hop off

at sprague lake named after the

enterprising

abner e sprague who ran a dude ranch

and fishing lodge here at the turn of

the 20th century

today the lake is still a favorite with

trout fishermen

and with a short hard-packed loop trail

the lake is ideal for families

and folks with limited mobility

for another easy hike take the short

loop around

bear lake which passes through a magical

shoreline of spruce

aspen and lodgepole pine

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from bear lake follow the trail up

tyndall gorge

pause by the lilies of nymph lake and

gaze into the mirrored perfection

of dream lake before arriving at one of

the park's easiest to reach

sub-alpine jewels emerald lake

for a longer and more challenging hike

tighten up your boot laces

pack a few layers and hit the 10 mile

out and back trail

to sky pond

after an easy first mile stop for a

snack by the thundering waters of

alberta falls

named after abner sprague's wife

from the falls the trail climbs to the

rugged shores of the lock

a lake guaranteed to bring a tear to the

eye of

any visiting scottish highlander

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from here the trail steepens traversing

fields of wildflowers and grazing elk

before arriving at the imposing wall of

water and granite

at timberline falls

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from the base of the falls the trail

climbs a 100 foot

chute and while not overly difficult if

it looks like rain or snow

it's best to turn back here

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after two to three hours of hiking

climbing

and rock hopping the tree line finally

thins

to reveal the stark beauty of glass lake

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just a few steps beyond the trail ends

at

sky pond a glacial basin cradled by a

citadel of granite cliffs

and shark-tooth spires

as you look back down the valley give

thanks

to enos mills who tirelessly lectured

coast to coast planting the seeds of the

rockies importance

into the nation's consciousness

in 1909 the man they call the father of

rocky mountain national park

shared his dream in the years to come

when i am asleep beneath the pines

thousands of families will find rest and

hope

in this park and in the decades since

millions have walked these trails

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after giving your calves and camera a

workout on the park's eastern trails

grab your car keys or join a tour and

head north

into the park's high country

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pull into horseshoe park a wetland

sanctuary whose rich soils

and perfect u-shaped valley were a gift

of a passing glacier around fifteen

thousand years ago

to trace the journey of that glacier had

west up old fall river road

a one-way uphill gravel road that

follows a native american hunting trail

the road is strictly seasonal passable

to cars

only in summer but enjoyed by snowshoers

and cross-country skiers

when winter closes in

the road's hairpin bends require slow

speeds

and steady nerves but you'll find plenty

of safe pullovers to take

in the valley views scent of ponderosa

and the hypnotic rhythms of snowmelt

after emerging into the sparse alpine

tundra

the road nears its end at the fall river

circ

this is the birthplace of the glacier

that

bulldozed its way down to horseshoe

valley

nine miles away

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perched on the northern rim of the fall

river circ

is the alpine visitors center the

highest

visitor center in the entire u.s

national park system

after learning more about the alpine

tundra and the peoples who first

traversed these mountains and valleys

take the half-mile hike up the alpine

ridge trail

the trail across the tundra may be short

but it's known as huffers hill for good

reason

after catching your breath in the thin

alpine air

enjoy the views which stretch away

across

space and time

from the alpine visitors center old fall

river road emerges onto the halfway

point of trail ridge road

the highest continuously paved road in

the usa

from here turn left and head back

towards the park's eastern side

and enjoy the expansive views from the

many outlooks and rest areas

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or turn right to explore the park's

southwestern side

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be sure to stop at milner pass which

marks the continental divide

the line at which the rockies waters

flow either west to the pacific

or east toward the atlantic

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while you're there stretch your legs on

the ute or mount ida trails to

experience some of the best high alpine

hiking on the divide

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and as with all higher altitude hikes in

this region

start out early and pack warm clothes

as storms roll in quickly particularly

in the afternoons

from milner pass trail ridge road

gradually descends

to grand lake where you'll find some of

the park's most

enchanting landscapes

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from the east inlet trailhead take the

easy one-mile hike to adams falls

then continue on through forests and

meadows

straight from a children's picture book

venture deeper into the forest on north

inlet trail

for a three and a half mile hike to

cascade falls

for those yearning even longer journeys

the trail here

forms part of the 3100 mile

continental divide scenic trail just

turn right for canada or

left for mexico and keep walking

but for most of us rocky mountain

national park

holds more than enough adventure to

fulfill all our wildest longings

from the ever-present songs of its

snowmelt

to the cool fragrant embrace of its

alpine air

colorado's rocky mountain national park

is a dream

that awakens all the senses it's a dream

that opens

every eye and ear to the miracles of

nature

and draws a sigh from every soul

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