Alpine lakes, massive mountains, herds of wildlife—these are just a few of the reasons to fall in love with Rocky Mountain National Park. This area spans 415 square miles of pure, raw nature. While you can travel to Rocky Mountain National Park and stay in a hotel, nothing compares to living in the outdoors in your campervan. In this post, we’ll discuss the many reasons why this national park is a hotspot for vancampers around the world. We’ll talk about what to do, what to see, and the top campgrounds to park your van!
About Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to gigantic 14,000-foot mountains, herds of elk, and beauty around every corner. Just one glimpse of the park and you’ll see why millions flock to the area every year. Rocky Mountain National Park spans over 265,000 acres in the gorgeous Colorado wilderness. The area is known for breathtaking hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and some of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see.
Where to Stop Along the Way
On your way over to Rocky Mountain National Park, consider stopping at these popular destinations:
With Arizona and New Mexico to the south, you’ll have several opportunities to see some awesome scenery. Be sure to stop by the Grand Canyon, Shiprock, and Taos. These locations provide some of the best scenery in the southwest. In Colorado, consider stopping in Durango, Aspen, and Denver.
There are some super sweet attractions if you’re driving west, but it all depends on where you start. In Missouri, consider stopping at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park or Prairie State Park. When in Kansas, some local favorites include fishing at Milford Lake and hiking at Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve.
When heading south, Montana and parts of Idaho is where you’ll find the best outdoor adventures. Glacier National Park is an amazing area with incredible scenery, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing. Northern Idaho also has tons of outdoor adventure, including ski resorts, lakes, rivers, and huge mountains.
Just hours west of Rocky Mountain National Park is Salt Lake City, which is the perfect base camp for local adventure. Park City is a cool ski town that’s worth checking out. You can also find several world-famous ski resorts in the area, like Powder Mountain, Alta Ski Area, and Brighton Ski Resort.
Rocky Mountain National Park: Where Outdoor Adventure Awaits
Whether you’re new to outdoor recreation or an expert, Rocky Mountain National Park is the place for you. Here is what the area has to offer:
Hiking trails are found throughout this magical national park. Additionally, you can find hikes for all ability levels. Some of the area’s most popular trails include Bear Lake, Bluebird Lake, The Loch, and Sprague Lake Loop. Adams Falls and Alberta Falls are a few waterfall hikes worth checking out. And with campgrounds found close to several trailheads, getting an early start is easy! If you plan to travel here in the middle of the summer, try to avoid the crowds and hike early in the day.
Several different amazing animals call Rocky Mountain National Park home. This includes elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, and more. You can even see a herd of up to 600 elk during the winter months! With 60 different species of animals and 280 recorded bird species found within the park, this area is considered one of the top wildlife viewing destinations in the country. Be sure to bring your camera along for some memorable shots!
While we recommend jumping on a hiking trail to catch the epic views, you can still see breathtaking scenery from the seat of your car. The convenient, high-quality road system in the park takes riders through various ecosystems found in the high-altitude regions of the Rockies. The route even travels more than 12,000 feet high! And if you want to stop and soak in the scenery, there are plenty of places to park your van. This is one of the most epic scenic drives you’ll ever do!
If you’re ready to cast out your line in peace and solitude, Rocky Mountain National Park has you covered. With more than 50 lakes in the park, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get your catch. The park is home to 11 different species of fish, all found in fresh streams and lakes. Keep in mind that a Colorado fishing license is required to fish in the park for all persons 16 years of age or older.
A night under the stars in Rocky Mountain National Park is a dream come true. You can find five campgrounds within park limits and several right outside the park boundary. As the summer months can get extremely busy, we encourage you to book camping reservations way ahead of time. You can book your spot up to six months in advance. Some notable campgrounds in the park include Longs Peak Campground, Aspenglen Campground, and Timber Creek Campground.
Hopping on a horse and strolling through the mountainside makes for a perfect adventure. Rocky Mountain National Park has two stables found within the park, Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables. They typically open for the season in late May. After hiking for hours, taking a horseback ride is an ideal way to unwind and catch the epic scenery.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when traveling to the area:
• June through September is the busiest time—try to plan around it
• Timed permits may be required—research this beforehand
• Consider dispersed camping in nearby Roosevelt National Forest
• Try taking the park’s free shuttle—it can save time and reduce emissions
• Some trailhead parking spots fill up as early as 6 am—so plan accordingly
• Plan for unexpected weather—things can change in a hurry!
• Keep your distance from wildlife—which will be everywhere!
By keeping these tips in mind, you can save time and experience this magical park to the fullest!
Here are some links and details about local hikes, campgrounds, and more:
• Emerald Lake Trail: Bear Lake Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517
• Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail: Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Colorado 80517
• The Loch: Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Colorado 80517
• Alberta Falls Trail: Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Colorado 80517
• Longs Peak Campground: Longs Peak Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517
• Aspenglen Campground: US-34 & Old Fall River Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517
• Timber Creek Campground: Timber Creek Campground, Grand Lake, CO 80447
• Moraine Park Campground: US-36, Estes Park, CO 80517
• Beaver Meadows Visitor Center: 1000 US Hwy 36, Estes Park, CO 80517
• Fall River Visitor Center: 3450 Fall River Road, Estes Park, CO 80517
• Holzwarth Historic Site: Holzwarth Historic Site, Grand Lake, CO 80447
Looking to go on the path less traveled? If so, check out these hidden gems in Rocky Mountain National Park:
• Lake Verna & Spirit Lake
• Coyote Valley Trail
• Lulu City
• Mertensia Falls
• Thunder Mountain
• Cascade Falls
Rec Van is Here for All of Your Adventures!
If you’re looking to park up a van and soak in the beauty of Rocky National Park, Rec Van can help you get there. We’re happy to be a campervan provider who sells new and used adventure vans. We carry the leading brands in the industry, including Winnebago, Thor Motor Coach, Leisure Travel Vans, Storyteller Overland, Entegra Coach, and more! With several years in the industry, we’re here to take your adventures to the next level. And while we carry the best new and used vans in the industry, we can even buy your van if you’re looking to sell! This makes it easy to swap out your ride for a brand new adventure mobile.
Check out our wide selection of campervans today and start the trip of a lifetime!