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Rocky Mountain National Park

February 28, 2019

woman with arms open feeling free

Looking for a quick escape from the apartments near CCD, something that will get you out of the confines of the city and into the depths of unbridled nature? Colorado is certainly the place for it, and if you’re keen on beautiful outdoor scenery, few places can deliver like Rocky Mountain National Park:

“With majestic mountains, tundra wildflowers, abundant wildlife, Trail Ridge Road (the highest paved road in the US), and over 350 miles of trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is spectacular!”

This wild expanse is the place to go for a natural getaway, so let’s jump into some background, history, and current news on the park so that you can plan a visit soon and become one with that cool Rocky Mountain air.

Getting to Know Rocky Mountain National Park

It “Feels like you’re on top of the world” is the tagline on the RMNP main page, and it’s quite the appropriate phrase given the park’s elevated trails and views (most notable being Trail Ridge Road, which goes up more than 12,000 feet). This 415 square-mile park has a long and storied history, but to cut to the chase, the land that we now call Rocky Mountain National Park was once sparsely dotted by various private owners.

During the early 20th Century, however, America experienced a newfound focus on conservation of natural grounds, and through the efforts of many opinionated champions of the conservation movement, like Enos Mills, the country saw the wisdom in declaring the land a national park. On January 26, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson made it so, and ever since this wild and wonderful land north of Denver has been a part of the national park system.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the finest in the entire country, and in addition to being one of the most visited parks in America (with over 4 million guests in 2017 alone), it holds the distinction of being one of UNESCO’s first World Biosphere Reserves, an honor it received in 1976.

This is a massive park, no doubt about it. So massive, in fact, that it’s divided into separate geographical zones, each with slightly different characteristics:

Zone 1 — Moose Country; here, you’ll find hulkingly huge moose along with large open spaces that spread great distances.

Zone 2 — The Alpine; the higher elevations and sweeping views are located here, along with the snowy, scenic mountain peaks.

Zone 3 — The Wilds; Colorado nature at its wildest, this area includes a combination of forests, creeks, ponds, and the like.

Zone 4 — The Park Center; as in, the middle of the park (not one of the visitor centers). It’s peaceful here, and there are lots of trails to hike.

Zone 5 — The Backcountry; this area has its share of trails and ponds too, along with some impressive waterfalls for you to gawk at.

The park is diverse, which makes it difficult to neatly categorize its climate and ecology into one easy box. It also makes for a plentiful variety of different plant and animal species inhabiting the park. Among the mammals, you’ll find (in addition to the moose), populations of elk, beaver, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, and more.

Birds are also a common sight at Rocky Mountain National Park, with over 270 species inhabiting the area. It’s a long list to cover, so be sure to read up on the park’s nature notes so you know what to look for before you head out. Photographers especially will want to know where various species are located (and when they come out) if they’re looking to snap a few shots of earth’s most majestic creatures.

Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t just look pretty, though, there’s plenty for you to do within its bounds, so next we’ll cover some of the activities you can enjoy when you make a visit here to the mountains.

What to Do on Your Visit

Thankfully, the park’s website lays out the most popular (and permissible) activities from the get-go. While you’re visiting, you might want to enjoy…

Wilderness Camping

Just you, your tent, and the wilds. There are plenty of spots around the park for you to set up and immerse yourself into nature while testing your outdoor-skills. You’ll need a permit to do so, however, so be sure to check with the wilderness office before you plan any adventures into the park.

Fishing

Few activities are more relaxing than breaking out the old fishing rod and seeing what you can catch. Rocky Mountain National Park offers more than 50 lakes and streams for you to try your luck, provided you have a Colorado fishing license and follow the rules. The park wants maintain a healthy natural environment, and won’t allow overfishing or any shenanigans that will harm local fish populations.

Photography

Remember all the plants and animal species we mentioned? A favorite pastime of many park visitors is to bring their gear and attempt to capture some stunning wildlife photos. Animals in particular, though, can be elusive (and dangerous), so it might pay to check out the park’s Wildlife Viewing Guide to ensure you can get the best shots possible while staying safe.

Hiking

No park is complete without ample hiking opportunities. Rocky Mountain National Park has them aplenty. To be specific, there are more than 355 miles of trails within the park, which range from “flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs.” One of the most spectacular, for many visitors, is the Dream Lake path; you can learn more about it (and how to complete it) courtesy of 5280 and their rather detailed “Hike We Like” segment.

The Wonders Never Cease at the Apartments Near CCD

There’s always something new and exciting to discover at communities like Colab, whether it’s a new favorite hiking spot like Rocky Mountain National Park or a hidden Denver gem that will occupy your free moments in the city. This is the way living in Colorado was meant to be, so be sure to check out everything these beautiful apartments have to offer, and make your move to the magical heart of downtown Denver.