A total of 415 square miles make up Rocky Mountain National Park. In the winter, elk herds number over 600. The park is also home to big horn sheep, mule deer, moose, and the endangered boreal toad. Birds found at the park include white-tailed ptarmigans, golden eagles, and prairie falcons. Black bears and mountain lions are in the park too. Choose your trail based on what you want to see. There are trails that will take you around the park’s lakes, waterfalls, and summits (which can reach an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet). You may even choose a trail to take you across the United States’ Continental Divide. Stop by the visitors centers where rangers are available to suggest a trail for you based on your experience as a hiker.
Rocky Mountain National Park experiences the highest number of visitors during the summer and fall months. Temperatures are usually around 80-degrees Fahrenheit during the summer days and fall to 40 degrees at night. Spring can be a good time to visit and beat the crowds, but many trails will still be covered in snow. Because of the threat of inclement weather, some of the park’s roads, trails, and visitors centers are closed seasonally. (See the website for information about the hours of each visitor center as well as news on closings of other parts of the park.)
For those entering by foot, there is a $10 charge for a day pass and $15 for a pass that lasts a week. Those entering by automobile will pay $20 for a day or $30 for the seven-day pass. Be sure to see the website for information about days in which no admission fee is charged. You will want to be aware of precautions to take to ensure your safety while at the park. High elevation can cause mountain sickness. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, and dizziness. The high elevation also increases the chance for sunburn and dehydration. Not all of the ground is stable in Rocky Mountain National Park either; avalanches do occur. Stay away from rodents as the deer mice are known to carry Hantavirus, and fleas on rodents can carry the bubonic plague. After being in the wilderness, check your scalp, body, and clothing for ticks. The ticks at the park may carry Colorado tick fever and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.