There are more than 350 miles of hiking trails in Rocky Mountain park, but one of the prettiest is to Mills Lake, framed by
pine trees and snowcapped peaks. $20 entry fee per vehicle; Mills Lake is 2.8 miles from the trailhead at Glacier Gorge parking
It’s elk rutting season, which means that 1,000-pound bulls are heading down into the meadows to claim their harems. Watch
the bulls challenge each other at dusk and listen to their eerie, high-pitched bugles. nps.gov/rom
You can't drive through Estes Park without encountering a candy shop. Estes Park Times & Old Fashion Candy is one of the best,
with hard candies, saltwater taffy, licorice, and more in big wooden barrels and apothecary jars. Closed Fri after Oct 1;
102 W. Elkhorn Ave.; 970/586-3623.
The 100-year-old Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King wrote his horror novel The Shining, is known as one of the country’s most
haunted hotels. Take the Ghosts & History Tour ($13; call 970/577-4110 for schedule), or stay in room 217, where The Shining
was written. From $199; 333 Wonderview Ave.; stanleyhotel.com
Why go in fall: Rocky Mountain National Park crowds have cleared out, and you can get your fix of fall color and wildlife.
Claim to fame: The town is the park’s eastern gateway.
In the news: President Obama signed legislation in March designating most of the Rocky Mountain park as wilderness.
Elevation: From the Estes Park gateway at 7,522 feet to the tip of Longs Peak at 14,259 feet, Rocky Mountain is well elevated.
Number of lakes in Rocky Mountain park: 147 Bring your binocs: Look for foraging wildlife like elk herds and bighorn sheep.
History lesson: Farmer Joel Estes is believed to have hosted the first tourists in 1859; as the spectacular scenery attracted more visitors,
Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915.
Dress code: Hiking boots and a parka, and carry extra layers; the weather can change in a moment at high elevation.
More fall trips in the Rockies