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Insider’s Guide Rocky Mountain National Park

From the top day hike to the key skills you'll need, we'll have you ready for the Rockies in no time.

Top Trails

Sky Pond via Lake Haiyaha

Seven alpine lakes, two gorgeous waterfalls, and acres of knee-high columbine–this
10-mile reverse lollipop packs in the best of Rocky’s east-of-the-Divide delights.
From Bear Lake, hike 1.1 miles to Dream Lake; follow the Lake Haiyaha Trail
to Glacier Knobs. Take the Loch Vale Trail past the windswept Loch and Glass
Lake to Sky Pond, nestled below the Sharkstooth and Petit Grepon spires. Return
to Glacier Knobs and continue down the winding Loch Vale Trail for two miles,
past Alberta Falls, to reach a short traverse back to Bear Lake.

Moraine Park to Bear Lake Loop

A wildlife-rich route with lakeside camping below glacial cirques, this trip
follows the gentle Fern Lake Trail 1.8 miles to The Pool, then climbs south
to campsites at Fern or Odessa Lakes (mile 4.8). Next morning, after admiring
the sunrise lighting up Notchtop Mountain’s broad east face, continue south
and east to a junction near Bear Lake. Head back northward past Mill Creek Basin
and Steep Mountain for 3.9 miles, then bear right on Cub Lake Trail to return
to Moraine Park, passing meadows where elk, mule deer, and coyote hang out.

Continental Divide Loop II: Tonahutu Creek–North Inlet Loop

Do an abbreviated version of the author’s loop over the Continental Divide by
following the Tonahutu Creek Trail to Grand Lake and returning over Flattop
Mountain via the North Inlet Trail, following creeks to a long alpine tundra
traverse. In autumn, the forest floor beside the trail is covered with a golden
carpet of bearberry and other ground cover. Allow three to four days to make
the most of this superb, 34-mile tour of the west side. Get an early start over
Flattop in both directions–you’re exposed to severe weather for several
miles above treeline.

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