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In a year, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) typically hosts more than 4.5 million visitors. As the fourth most-visited National Park in the country, visitors come from all 50 U.S. states and many foreign countries to see the beauty of Longs Peak, to hike along Bear Lake, and to test their lung capacity at altitude.

Summer is by far the busiest season for RMNP, but for good reason. The snow has melted, revealing miles of glorious hiking trails that span acres and acres of Rocky Mountain land.

As you plan your summer trip to RMNP, keep these tips in mind so that you have an amazing experience and don’t let the crowds put a damper on your trip.

Get An Early Start

When we say early, we mean it. If you try to drive through the Visitor Center gates between 10am and 3pm, expect to wait in lines of traffic and for the hiking trail heads to be completely full.

It might mean some temporarily cranky kids, but we recommend getting to Glacier Gorge trailhead by 6am and to Bear Lake by around 8am. Plus, hiking this early means you’re hiking in cooler weather and are less likely to face afternoon thunderstorms.

Staying in nearby Estes Park also helps, as you just have a quick jaunt to the park in the morning.

Prioritize Your Lodging

Because the park gets so crowded, there’s only so much time you can actually spend inside its boundaries. Instead, prioritize your lodging so that you have a retreat for after those long, high-altitude hikes.

When you book, we recommend Estes Park vacation rentals so that you’re close but also outside of the chaos of the park. Estes Park is serene town that has all of the amenities you need for a family vacation — a grocery store, a gas station, and, of course, a few good ice cream parlors. The town is also just outside of the gates of RMNP, so it’s incredibly convenient.

If you were thinking about camping within RMNP, that’s an option only if you’ve planned far in advance. Campsites require reservations and they fill up quickly. Also, keep in mind that it’s bear season. So, if you’re traveling with a family and might have trouble containing food scraps, it’s better to stay in civilization instead.

Pack For All Weather, Every Day

One day in Colorado can feature all four seasons. You might have a beautiful, hot, blue-sky day in the morning that will give way to torrential thunderstorms (and hail) in the afternoon. These summer showers tend to pass quickly, but you don’t want to hike too late into the afternoon.

As you gain elevation hiking, you also will get chillier. Definitely pack an extra warm, non-cotton layer for any day hikes you plan. A hat or sunglasses can also make a world of a difference, as you’re nearly 7,000 feet closer to the sun than you’re used to.

For Estes Park vacation homes conveniently located yet removed from the hustle and bustle, contact Solitude Cabins today!