If you are in the Boulder/Denver area in Colorado and want to take the family to see Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) but don't have a lot of time, here is a fun half-day or so outing the kids will love.
Start by taking highway 36 to Estes Park. It's a nice drive up the canyon and the little mountain town is great for just strolling around, grabbing a bite to eat, and treating the kids to an ice cream or some salt water taffy from shops that showcase the taffy stretching machines in the window. Estes Park also has an aerial tram, putt-putt, and other fun family activities.
But getting away from town and into the national park is really the fun part. Follow signs to RMNP and Trail Ridge Road. Trail Ridge is the highest continuous paved road in the US, spanning about 50 miles and topping out at 12,183 feet. If you have time, take it all the way to Grand Lake, but if you want just a 1-2 hour glimpse into RMNP, you can turn back at the Alpine Visitor Center near the high point of the pass. Along the way, take advantage of the many turnout/overlook areas where the kids can stretch their legs.
Gorgeous views abound as you drive towards timberline.
Kids scrambling on rocks... is there anything better?
Not only do the turnouts feature spectacular photo opps of the mountains and valley below, but if you linger a few minutes, you're likely to see a lot of the local residents - chipmunks, marmots, pikes, and perhaps a ptarmigan.
We were not so lucky on this particular day but elk, bighorn sheep, and deer move to the high country during the summer and can be seen in areas like this. (Gear pictured is a prototype of the SHRED DOG Malamute boys insulator jacket featuring 3M Thinsulate).
When it is late June and 90+ degrees in Denver, you can still have a snowball fight at 12,000 feet.
Rocky Mountain National Park has more than 265,000 acres to hike, camp, and otherwise explore, and this short adventure is just a taster's scoop.
We look forward to posting more Family Adventures from deeper within the park as we go on more adventures there but, again, this one is a short outing if it's your first time at RMNP and are a little pressed for time.