An RV trip to Rocky Mountain National Park is never a bad idea. Add in a trek over the Continental Divide on the park’s Trail Ridge Road and you’ll kick your trip up to a whole new level. It’s just an hour and a half drive from picking up your RV rental in Denver to reach RMNP’s eastern gate at Estes Park. Why not take a camping trip to Colorado and marvel at the views that keep RVers heading for Trail Ridge Road all summer?
Where to Camp on Your Trip to Trail Ridge Road?
If you’ve never experienced RV camping in the Rocky Mountains, there’s no more beautiful location than Rocky Mountain National Park. Three campgrounds within the park’s boundaries (and splendidly surrounded by mountain scenery) are suitable for RVs.
You also have several choices for campgrounds near the Park; one of the most convenient is operated by the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District. The Estes Campground at Mary’s Lake can accommodate large RVs with full hookups, and offers fishing at the lake and easy access to the charming mountain village of Estes Park.
Private campgrounds in the Estes Park area are also well-equipped to welcome motorhome and travel trailer campers. One more possibility with stunning views, if you enjoy dry camping, can be found at Herman Park Open Space Campground, south of Estes.
What You’ll Find Along Trail Ridge Road
But now it’s time to talk about the reason you’re in Northern Colorado—the chance to travel nearly fifty miles, from Estes Park to Grand Lake, through alpine forests and then rocky tundra, on the highest scenic byway in America. Trail Ridge Road, after crossing the Continental Divide, peaks at 12,183 feet before sweeping back down the mountainside to about 8,000 feet in elevation.
This two-lane highway can be traveled with ease in summer, thanks to no more than a seven-percent grade while gaining four-thousand feet in elevation. What that means is that, between late May and October, you won’t have trouble making the grade in an RV.
But what you’ll see along the way is the real reason RV travelers wind their way up Trail Ridge Road. As the treeline drops away, the immense, barren tundra allows views of ‘fourteeners’ all around. Wide loops of highway make their way across this plain to just above twelve thousand feet, with perfect views as far away as Denver.
Impossibly deep, boulder studded canyons plunge away as you travel the highest continuous paved highway in North America. Keep an eye open for elk, moose and bighorn sheep along the route. The variety of terrain promises an abundance of plant and animal life accustomed to alpine habitat. Take advantage of the many pull-outs to stop and experience the views from outside your vehicle. Be sure to explore the Alpine Visitor Center at Fall River Pass to learn more about the tundra and enjoy some of the best views on Trail Ridge Road.
If you have time, follow at least one of the trails that intersect the highway for a more intimate look at life above the treeline. Keep in mind it’s much cooler, as much as thirty degrees, at this elevation, so dress accordingly.
Your trip along Trail Ridge Road may well be the highlight of your RV camping trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but you’ll want to spend some time discovering at least a few of the other attractions there.
Holzwarth Historic Site/Never Summer Ranch near Grand Lake on the west side of RMNP is a look back at a 1920s dude ranch and the Park’s early history. You’ll also want to make the drive to Horseshoe Park for premier wildlife viewing opportunities. Take a hike through a mountain meadow, up the side of a mountain or around an alpine lake on one of the park’s nearly three hundred miles of trails. There is literally no place within Rocky Mountain National Park that isn’t memorable, so why not stay awhile and find your favorites?
A drive along Trail Ridge Road can be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the Rocky Mountains, or the highlight of this summer’s return trip to Colorado. Book your campsites and RV rental now so you won’t miss a day of adventure.