Labor Day weekend is just around the corner have you made your plans yet? This is a long weekend free of charge for most of us, so instead of having your annual barbeque do something worth bragging about when you get back in the office. And yes perhaps your barbeque rivals the makings of Top chef, but can you imagine if your party had the backdrop of the Never Summer Range? The jaw dropping beauty in Rocky Mountain National Park will not only make it easier to feed your guests, but also solidify you as the party host of the year.
The Rocky Mountain National Park is just over 65 miles northwest of Denver, past the town of Estes Park. This mountain village is the base camp to the Rocky Mountain National Park and definitely warrants at least one pit stop. Estes Park has tons of activities and will soon be hosting the USA Pro Challenge on August 24th. The USA Pro Challenge is a road bike race that weaves in and out of the front range. Professional cyclists compete in high altitude climbs over a multi-day seven stage race.
Drive thru the town to access the park. You will be greeted by the Park ranger station, entrance fees are priced per car at $20, valid for seven consecutive days including the date of purchase. If you are a National Park Pass holder, just flash your pass and cruise on by. The Rocky Mountain National Park is expansive with over 60 peaks that surpass 12,000 feet in elevation. The big kahuna of the park is Longs Peak with a summit elevation of 14,259 ft. The particular peak is extremely unique because its summit is the size of a football field.
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is very easy to locate, upon entry ask for a park map and the designated campgrounds will all be marked. I highly recommend you reserve a campsite ahead of time or get up early, grab some coffee and then hunt for a camp site they fill up fast. A fan favorite of mine is the Longs Peak Campground; this site is perfect for large groups and is a drive-to camping area. However this area does not allow RV camping, tent only, perk or pitfall you can decide.
Back-country camping is my personal preference. You will need to obtain a back-country permit, which you can pick up at the Headquarters Back-country Office near the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Highway 36 just west of Estes Park. Obtaining a day trip permit is easy and can be done in the office day of; if you are planning to go overnight call the office to reserve your permit. The Headquarters’ Rangers are friendly and extremely knowledgeable, feel free to poke around and ask away. Once your permit is in hand Rocky Mountain National Park is your playground. Since the park is so massive and at times overwhelming I like to west side story the map and split it into my two top favorite spots, one on the west side and the other on the east.
The West Side: Granite Falls, you can access this site from the Green Mountain Trail-head. From here hike 5.4 miles to the camping sites. The hike is slightly strenuous but the location is worth every ounce of sweat. Camp sites are marked with silver arrowheads and located around .2 miles upstream from the falls. This waterfall has a bright red belly from the granite and leaves a lasting impression.
The East Side: Boulder Brook, this camping area boasts two individual sites and a group site, so if you are traveling in a larger pack this is where you want to go. The camping grounds are just east of the Boulder Brook Trail with the group site located just south of the trail and the other two only 500 yards north of the trail. Starting from the Glacier Gorge Trail-head you’ll hike 3.9 miles and you have arrived. Happy trails.
- 65 Miles Northwest of Denver
Where to stay?
- Rocky Mountain National Park Camp sites/Back-country
- Town of Estes Park
Baller on a Budget?
The National Park Service offers Fee Free days:
- National Park Week August 22-26,
- August 25 National Park Service Birthday,
- September 28 Public Lands Day
- Hiking, Fishing-Permitted with Valid License, Picnicking, Waterfalls, Camping, Running, Photo-OP, Dogs Allowed on Leash, Back-country Camping-Permit Required
- Town of Estes Park, Never Summer Range, Mummy Range, Longs Peak, Yplsion Mountain