DENVER - For many families, Rocky Mountain National Park has been the backdrop for some of their most memorable vacation photos. If you're new to Colorado or simply haven't visited the park in a while, consider planning a day trip or long weekend there.
Less than two hours from Denver, the park is home to lakes, waterfalls, hiking trails, campgrounds and so much more. This month's edition of 5280 Magazine features a 14-page guide to the park.
"There are two hiking trails in particular I thought that were really special. The first one is Green Mountain Trail, which goes to Granite Falls. It gives you this wonderful overview of the terrain on the west side of the park, which is kinda different from what most people think of. It is quieter. It is less crowded. It goes the back-door route into Rocky Mountain National Park. The second one is the Colorado River Trail, which goes kinda through the north part of the park. You get to go see Lulu City, which is kind of a ghost town, kind of crumbling into the earth, and then you also get to see the headwaters of the Colorado River," said Lindsey Koehler, the 5280 Magazine Features Editor. "The Bear Lake area is just beautiful, and it is so easy to access. and the other thing that I would probably send newbies on is Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest paved road in the United States, and you see everything that you would possibly want to see: huge mountains, rivers, beautiful scenic valleys."
Don't forget about the communities outside the park. Many of them are still recovering from last year's floods.
"Grand Lake, if you haven't been there before, is really a dramatic setting. It's on a huge lake, and it's a great, little fun summer town. There are ice cream shops , little retail outlets and good little restaurants and bars. Obviously, on the flipside, there is Estes Park. I think it is a little more well known, but it is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and there are great places to stay and fun things to do in that town as well." said Koehler.
Koehler says the best times to visit are during the week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. For more of Koehler's recommendations: http://www.5280.com/.
In September, the park will begin celebrating its 100th anniversary. To learn more about the park: http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm.
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