- Explore the best sections and hiking trails of Rocky Mountain National Park
- Photograph bugling elk and bull moose wandering the 200,000 acres of protected wilderness
- Drive Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States
- Hike along the Continental Divide, marveling at 12,000-foot peaks, lakes and alpine tundra
- Stay at the historic Stanley Hotel and the idyllic mountain cabins of Estes Park and Grand Lake
Hike the best trails and hidden gems of Rocky Mountain National Park, exploring the striking landscapes of the Continental Divide connecting Estes Park to Grand Lake.
Starting in Estes Park, enjoy a quick loop around Estes Lake before venturing into the depths of Rocky Mountain National Park. Drive to Fern Lake for a point-to-point hike in Glacier Basin; discover glistening lakes, jagged peaks, brilliant wildflowers and lush forests of aspen and pine as you trek from Bear Lake to Moraine Park. Continue to Aspenglen to complete the eastern park circuit and for a hike up Deer Mountain. Drive along the iconic Trail Ridge Road, or the “Highway in the Sky,” linking Estes Park to Grand Lake. Hike to nationally-acclaimed historic sites and along the high-alpine tundra of the Continental Divide.
Each night, relax in iconic lodges and quaint cabins in the historic mining towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake.
Day 1: Arrive Estes Park
Welcome to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and start to your hiking adventure. Upon arrival, stop off at the “Estes Park” stone marker, a tourist hot spot and photo op to commemorate your entrance into Colorado’s most beloved and preserved wilderness areas. Stretch your legs with a lovely loop around Estes Lake, for panoramas of inspiring natural beauty and spectacular mountain vistas. Keep eyes peeled for bugling elk roaming the shoreline before heading into town for dinner at one of the many taverns lining Elkhorn Avenue, and retiring for the evening.
Hike: Estes Lake: 4 mi. (+109ft.), loop
Overnight: Estes Park
Day 2: Hike Bear Lake to Fern Lake
Today’s hike takes you beyond the heavily traveled Bear Lake trail network and into the outlying backcountry of the Glacier Gorge area; exploring numerous alpine lakes, rushing waterfalls, and lush forests.
Drive to the Fern Lake Trailhead to park your car, and board the free shuttle for a quick transfer down to Bear Lake Trailhead and the start of your hike. Starting at higher elevation, enjoy varied terrain, trending slightly downhill, to Lake Helene, Odessa Lake and Fern Falls. View wildlife grazing the fertile meadows and the mirror-like reflections of Notchtop Mountain and Little Matterhorn in peaceful waters of Fern Lake. Continue onward to the trailhead for a drive back to town and your overnight mountain lodge.
Hike: Bear Lake to Fern Lake: 9 mi. (+1141ft.), point-to-point
Overnight: Estes Park
Day 3: Hike Deer Mountain
This morning, drive to the Fall River Entrance Station for a different perspective of the Rocky Mountains. Hike up to the top of Deer Mountain for stunning 360-degree views of the park, including the 14,000 foot Longs Peak. Enjoy several switchbacks through ponderosa pine facing Black Canyon and the Trail Ridge mountain range.
Finish driving the eastern circuit out of the park, returning to the iconic Stanley Hotel. Built in 1907 and situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, this once remote lodge served as the inspiration for Steven King’s best-selling novel, “The Shining.” Enjoy exploring this hotel’s mysterious ambiance and learning about its remarkable influence on the town, National Park and surrounding community with an interpretive family, history or ghost tour (not included).
Hike: Deer Mountain: 6 mi. (+1400ft.), out-and-back
Overnight: Estes Park
Day 4: Explore Trail Ridge Road & Hike Colorado River
Completed in 1933, Trail Ridge Road spans Rocky Mountain National Park from east to west, connecting Estes Park to Grand Lake. Acclaimed as “The Highway in the Sky,” enjoy winding past 12,000-foot peaks and high-alpine tundra of the Continental Divide. Stop off at Fall River Pass for a quick must-do hike along the Alpine Ridge Trail, a half-mile hike up rock stairs to an impressive scenic overlook.
Continue through the western side of the park to the Colorado River Trailhead. For a shorter hike, follow the dirt trail along the river to Shipler Cabin. For a longer trek, continue onward to Lulu City, where the remains of a 100-block mining town founded in 1879 (yet deserted in 1886), still stand. Tonight, finish the day roaming the quaint village of Grand Lake, whose name derives from the lake shores on which it is situated.
Hike: Alpine Ridge Trail: 0.6 mi. (+124ft.), out-and-back
Hike: Shiper Cabins: 4 mi (+426ft.), out-and-back
Hike: Lulu City: 7 mi. (+826ft.), out-and-back
Overnight: Grand Lake
Day 5: Hike the Continental Divide
With an early morning start, traverse back up Trail Ridge Road to Milner Pass for an exhilarating hike along the Continental Divide! Enjoy a slow but steady hike up to the exposed alpine tundra and expansive mountain beauty of Mount Ida, sitting at 12,889 feet. Continue above tree line, clambering over boulders and scree, towards the summit. Soak in the breathtaking views from the top, including the Never Summer Mountains to the west, Mummy Range toward the northeast, and the Azure and Inkwell Lakes below. Return the way you came, keeping eyes peeled for alpine sunflowers, marmots, picas, ptarmigans, raptors, elk and mule deer.
After dinner in town, head to the rocky shores of Grand Lake, the largest natural body of water in Colorado. Enjoy the sunset before returning to your lodge for a peaceful slumber in the serenity of the mountains.
Hike: Mount Ida: 9 mi. (+2375ft.)
Overnight: Grand Lake
Day 6: Onward Travel
Depending on your travel arrangements, rent a kayak, canoe or SUP for paddle around Grand Lake before continuing onward.
We specifically hand-picked your accommodations in comfortable mountain lodges and cabins to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay while exploring Rocky Mountain National Park.
All accommodations are conveniently located only a short walking distance to each town’s main plaza and restaurants. Additionally, each offers individual character and welcoming hospitality.
Single Rooms & Solo Travelers
This trip is based on two people sharing a room. If you’d like separate rooms, a single supplement is required.
If you would like to request a twin room (same room with two separate beds), please notify us during booking so we can request this option.
This trip is also available to solo hikers (a solo supplement is required).
A breakfast voucher is included for each day while staying at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Breakfast is served within the Cascade Restaurant and ordered from a set menu.
While staying in Grand Lake, you can choose to eat breakfast at nearby restaurants and bakeries (not included). Additionally, most private cabins have a small kitchenette to cook and store food, should you choose to make breakfast in the morning instead.
Lunches and dinners are not included in this trip. For lunches, you can find markets, cafés or restaurants located within each town for dining out or to purchase a packed lunch to take with you on hikes. For dinner, you can dine at local restaurants all within a short walking distance from your night’s stay.
You can easily request to add extra nights during this itinerary. For further details, please ask us at the time of booking.
The Stanley Hotel
Dating from 1909, this grand hotel famous for its old world charm and influence in “The Shining,” is noted as the headquarters of Rocky Mountain National Park. Only a short walking distance from downtown Estes Park, enjoy panoramic views of Lake Estes and the Rocky Mountains. Stay the night or enjoy a tour of this colonial revival hotel, and its surrounding structures, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Daven Haven Lodge
This rustic, woody resort dating from the 1930s is a quiet reprieve and welcomed escape from the bustle of everyday life. Walking distance from the town and wood-planked sidewalks, funky Western restaurants, and friendly faces, enjoy the simple pleasures from your private cabin nestled in the woods and shoreline of Grand Lake.
This trip is available to start on any day of the week from June to September, during the peak summer and fall season.
these locations are year-round tourist destinations, we suggest you
book as soon as your plans are finalized to ensure availability for
Note, due to a heavy snow winter in Colorado, some of the higher elevations hikes for this trip may be impacted by snow into late June, and possible as late as early July. Please call your Macs representative with any questions about the current snow-pack conditions and trip availability.
When To Go?
The best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is July and August for clear skies, warmer weather, drier trails and frequent wildlife viewings.
June is also a great month to visit (winter season depending), as wildflowers are in full bloom or fall foliage is at its peak.
Navigating is easy using the Macs Adventure Navigation App. Your daily hikes will be mapped in the app with GPX tracks, route notes and turn-by-turn directions. All of these resources are available to download for offline use, which is recommended as cell service can at times be spotty within the National Park.
You will be provided with trip specific contact information in addition to 24/7 telephone support from Macs Adventure should you require assistance.
Experience, Fitness & Grade
This tour is graded moderate, with four days of hiking and a maximum distance of 9 miles. Daily hikes average around 6-9 miles (4-7 hours) along well-signed and well-traveled trails, regularly monitored and maintained by National Park rangers and staff. The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes.
Due to being a National Park on 265,769 acres of preserved federal land, the trails are available to hikers only.
As weather patterns in the mountains are often unpredictable and can change suddenly, hikers should be prepared for hiking in the rain, mud and on the rare occasion, snow, should there be an early or late snow season that year.
Daily afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. As a rule of thumb, it is best to get an early start for each hike to avoid exposure to thunderstorms and lightning strikes.
National Park Entrance Fees
While hiking within Rocky Mountain National Park, a parking pass will have to be purchased upon arrival at one of the three park entrance stations: Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, Fall River Entrance Station or the Grand Lake Entrance Station. We recommend purchasing a week pass for this trip (7-day park pass, $35 via cash or credit card, not included). Or you can purchase an annual park pass at $80 (which includes entrance at any US National Park for a full year). For more information or to purchase a National Park pass online prior to trip departure click this link and visit the national park pass section found within the pre-departure information pack.
Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a packing list on what to bring. This includes warm and cold hiking gear, hiking boots, rain gear and lots of other specifics.
Please be prepared by packing all the necessary items for a comfortable trip. If you have any questions about what to take, we'd be happy to share our own top tips and advice.
Travel insurance helps protect your travel investment, your belongings and most importantly you, from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip. For more information, please visit our travel insurance page by clicking this link.
Getting to Estes Park
Denver International Airport, has flights from international and national destinations.
Upon arrival to the airport, follow signs pointing you in the direction of the rental car agency to pick-up your rental car. Budget, Enterprise and Hertz are some of the many rental car agencies available to rent from Denver International Airport. Driving to Estes Park takes about two hours from the airport.
Getting from Grand Lake
Depending on your travel arrangements, you may want to drive back to Denver or continue onward to Winter Park and other nearby summer/ski resort destinations. While rental cars can be returned at Denver International Airport, we suggest arranging your preferred drop-off location during pick-up.
If desired, you can easily add-on a rental car to this itinerary. Please notify us at the time of booking and we would be happy to assist you (additional costs apply).
For additional transportation services outside the provided itinerary, such as a taxi to a specific restaurant or location, the host at your evening’s accommodation can help assist you in making the necessary arrangements.
- 5 Nights at hand-selected mountain lodges and cabins
- 3 Breakfasts
- Detailed pre-departure information pack
- Turn-by-turn route notes and driving directions
- Macs Adventure Navigation App for mobile phone
- 24/7 telephone support
- Rental Car
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Additional nights before, during or after the trip
- Personal equipment
- Travel Insurance
- Gratuities and tips
- National Park Pass
- Extra Nights in Estes Park and Grand Lake
- Single Room Supplement
- Solo Supplement
- Room Upgrades (only where applicable)
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized as this destination is popular in the summer months. Please note you can start this tour on any day of the week.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good hiking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes (non-cotton is advised), waterproof rain gear, a daypack, hiking poles, water bottles and warm layers. We will supply you with our recommending hiking gear and equipment within the pre-departure information pack.
What if I become ill during my trip?
This trip allows for plenty of flexibility, so if you're not up for hiking, that's Ok. If you need medical services, you'll find information in your pre-departure information packet or you can ask for assistance at your hotel and mountain lodge. As always, 24/7 support from Macs Adventure is only a phone call away.
How is cell service in the park?
Cell service and Wi-Fi is available at each overnight accommodation and at certain locations within the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake. However, while hiking trails or the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park, cell service is inconsistent or unavailable. As always, it is best to prepare in advance should you loose service at any point, specially when downloading routes for GPS driving directions and trail navigation. Information regarding cell service will be outlined within the pre-departure information pack to help you prepare. Otherwise, enjoy being fully immersed in nature and in your present surroundings!