Visit Colorado: A Drive Through Rocky Mountain National Park

Visit Colorado: A Drive Through Rocky Mountain National Park
20 Sep 2019

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Disclosure: My visit was covered by Rocky Mountain National Park. All opinions are my own.

As a kid, I loved geography. Don’t get me wrong… I loved art, and everything to do with art… but geography was my second passion in school. I loved drawing maps, doing research projects, in hopes of some day visiting those places I was studying about.

One of those projects I did in geography class was on Rocky Mountain National Park, and the dream of visiting became a reality earlier this year while visiting Estes Park in Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is located in northern Colorado, and spans the Continental Divide.

rocky mountain national park mountains and forest

In 2018, Rocky Mountain National Park was the 3rd most visited Nation Park system in the United States, with 4.5 million people coming through the park.

rocky mountain national park wildlife

You will find snow capped mountains, vast forests, and more wildlife than you can imagine.

rocky mountain national park park ranger

We arrived at the Rocky Mountain National Park Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and were welcomed by Jean Muenchrath, who is a Park Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park.

She gave us a very detailed outline of what we were going to see, as well as viewing and driving tips, and ways to keep safe.

Trail Ridge Road

While Rocky Mountain National Park is amazing to visit all year, driving Trail Ridge Road is an experience in itself.

rocky mountain national park rocky mountain valley

Rocky Mountain National Park has the highest paved roads in any national park in the United States, with Trail Ridge Road cresting at 12,183 feet. You will get some of the best views of the park from this road.

rocky mountain national park trail ridge road rainbow curve

While driving along Trail Ridge Road, be prepared for rapid weather changes and very strong winds.

rocky mountain national park road closed

When we were there, the temperature dropped as we ascended higher into the mountains. It was worth it though… the view from the stop at the Rainbow Curve, where you will see the “Road Closed” sign, was spectacular!

rocky mountain national park craig at rainbow curve

When we visited, Trail Ridge Road was scheduled to be open, but they received a large snowfall that required the roads to be cleared, so it remained closed for a few more weeks.

rocky mountain national park girl sitting on wall

Typically, Trail Ridge Road opens the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and will open and close throughout Spring (depending on weather) until mid-June. There may be periodic closers in after Labor Day weekend, as storms do start. The road closes for the season in mid to late October.

rocky mountain national park guy sitting on rock

You will see many people stopped to take pictures.

rocky mountain national park guy standing on wall

If you happen to see someone alone, offer to take their picture for them.

If you wonder why the roads are closed for snow, it’s becasue of the sheer volume of snow, what si required to clear these roads, and the safety of its visitors.

The snow walls along Trail Ridge Road are truly a site to see!

Sprague Lake

Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague Lake is a scenic lake on the south side of Glacier Creek.

This lake has a an easy wheelchair accessible hike, complete with boardwalks and bridges.

You’ll see beautiful views of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.

We saw lots of people fishing, as Sprague Lake is known for Brook Trout.

Chapel On The Rock

The Chapel on the Rock, officially known as Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel, is an operating Catholic chapel and frequently visited tourist landmark in Allenspark, Colorado. Located on the grounds of Saint Malo Retreat and Spiritual Center of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, this beautiful building stands out from its surroundings, yet somehow seems to fit right in to the terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park.

This beautiful chapel was visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993. On this visit, he blessed the chapel, and walked the grounds.

Unfortunately, a fire in 2011 destroyed a majority of the Retreat Centre, forcing it to close. In 2013, rock slides destroyed much of the surrounding areas, but the Chapel on the Rock survived.

The chapel is open to the public, and many people stop to take pictures of this architectural wonder.


Rocky Mountain National Park Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is located at:
1000 US Hwy 36, Estes Park, Colorado 80517

Standard Hours

Sunday to Saturday: 8:00am to 4:30pm

Get Social With Rocky Mountain National Park

The folks running the social media accounts for Rocky Mountain National Park do an amazing job of making you want to not only visit, but be there in the moment. There are several accounts I recommend following:

Visit Rocky Mountain National Park: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Rocky Mountain National Park: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Rocky Mountain Park: Twitter

If you are in the Colorado area, make sure you visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Best to go after mid-June through the summer so you can drive Trail Ridge Road to the crest.

Big Daddy

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Craig Silva

Craig is a passionate and seasoned travel, food, and lifestyle writer, whose words paint vivid pictures of the world's most captivating destinations. His work not only inspires others to embark on their own adventures but also fosters a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of our world. He captures the essence of each locale, offering readers a glimpse into the cultures, landscapes, cuisine, and experiences that make travel so enriching. Craig is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). If you are a PR agency or brand and would like Craig to review a travel destination, vehicle, restaurant, product or service, please send him an email.

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