Rocky Mountain National Park
August 19 - 24, 2019
(6 days, 5 nights; Mon - Sat)Alternate Tour Dates
Includes all lodging, meals, van shuttles, park entrance fees, leaders, trail maps and narratives.
Timberline van shuttle is included between Denver and Estes Park prior to and following tour.
Not included: Airline service to Denver International Airport; Guide Gratuity.
Hotel 8:30 am
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of America’s great scenic treasures and is the site of our Colorado hiking trip. Within its borders are some of the world’s most spectacular alpine features—towering above-timberline peaks that are snowclad year-round, countless lakes and beautiful mountain valleys. In so many ways, the park also is a celebration of Colorado, a state renowned for its high-mountain majesty, attributable in no small measure to the presence of 54 named summits exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation. In a single hike we can pass through 3 life zones whose flora and fauna change as the elevation changes.
On Day 1, after the DIA airport pick up, we’ll shuttle to Wild Basin, the southern most trailhead in the National Park. We’ll have a warm up hike to beautiful Calypso Cascades and nearby Ouzel Falls. We’ll make a loop hike by returning on the little used North St. Vrain Trail (6 miles). Wild life abounds on this quiet trail.
Day 2 we’ll hop a shuttle to the popular Bear Lake trailhead. Soon we will leave the crowds behind as we ascend a ridge, then meander our way along the flank of Flattop Mountain past Lake Helene. Here we meet the spectacular valley of Fern Creek where we skirt on a high ledge past the peaks of Notchtop, Knobtop, Gabletop and Little Matterhorn. We continue down the valley past shimmering Lake Odessa and serene Fern Lake. After joining the Thompson River at The Pool, we exit the flat valley to the shuttle stop. You are almost guaranteed to see herds of elk in this valley.
We’ll hike on Day 3 from the Glacier Gorge trailhead, following Glacier Creek as it continues its course through the Gorge. Early in the hike, we’ll pass by Alberta Falls and then it’s on to some of the park’s higher alpine lakes. We’ll climb to the Loch, rise beyond the tree line to Timberline Falls, scramble up a ledge along the falls to Lake of Glass and beyond, finally reaching our destination- incredibly beautiful Sky Pond, nestled in the shadow of Powell and Taylor Peaks. The views of all that we passed are breathtaking as they unfold in a panoramic fantasy in the course of our descent (9 miles).
Day 4 will show take us on a gently meandering trail past some of the most photographed lakes in the park. Our route starts at the Bear Lake Trailhead and goes past a quick succession of alpine lakes: Bear, Nymph, Dream, Emerald and Lake Haiyaha. Along the route we have stupendous views of the snow topped towering peaks above us. Our shorter hike will give us time to enjoy the van transfer which takes us up over stunning Trailridge road – the highest continuously paved road in the country. We’ll be above treeline for much of the drive, topping out 12,183 ft. right near the Alpine Visitor Center. At this elevation we could experience winter in August! We then descend on the western side to Grand Lake for our first of two nights.
On Day 5, we’ll challenge the East Inlet Trail that rises above Grand Lake. Early into the hike, we’ll visit popular Adams Falls, then skirt the large, flat valley of East Inlet Creek where moose abound, before climbing to serene Lone Pine Lake, our turnaround point for this day (10 miles).
Day 6, our final day, we’ll shuttle back into the park to the Olde Ute Trailhead at Poudre Lake and one final visit to the park’s vast alpine world above treeline. We’ll hike from Poudre’s lakeshore through the fascinating rock spires and hanging gardens above the lake, emerge from the trees at timberline and continue on to Fall River Pass and the Alpine Visitor Center (5 miles). Following lunch in Estes Park, we’ll return to Denver.
|Day 1||Van shuttle from DIA to Wild Basin- Calypso Cascades - Ouzel Falls- Overnight in Estes Park||6|
|Day 2||Bear Lake - Lake Helene - Odessa Lake - Fern Lake||9.2|
|Day 3||Glacier Gorge Trailhead- Alberta Falls- Sky Pond- Overnight in Estes Park||9|
|Day 4||Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, Lake Haiyaha, van shuttle over Trail Ridge road to Grand Lake||6|
|Day 5||East Inlet Trail to Lone Pine Lake||10|
|Day 6||Old Ute Trailhead from Poudre Lake to Fall River Pass- Lunch back in Estes Park and return to DIA||5|
Total Distance: 49.2 miles
- Murhpy's Lodge
- Gateway Inn