The park’s can’t-miss attractions, from jaw-dropping views to amazing wildlife viewing
1 of 10Flickr user Wally Gobetz
Elk graze in this vast meadow surrounded by glacier-hewn peaks. At sunrise, the mountains gleam and the winding Big Thompson River glitters in the light.
2 of 10Flickr user Dustin Gaffke
Hike 14,259-foot Longs Peak, or ogle its awesome cliffs from Chasm Lake (an 8.4 mile hike, one way).
3 of 10Flickr user Sputnik
This 30-foot gusher is most impressive during runoff in May and June, but produces a delightfully cooling mist throughout the summer and fall.
4 of 10Danita Delimont / Getty Images
Trail Ridge Road
The highest continuously paved highway in the U.S., this 48-mile route connects the town of Grand Lake (on Rocky Mountain’s west side) to Estes Park (the eastern gateway). In between, it scales treeless peaks and crosses the Continental Divide.
5 of 10Kimberly Gomes
Jagged stone towers surround this shimmering, 10,110-foot-high alpine lake, reached via a moderate, 3.5-mile (round trip) hike from Bear Lake.
6 of 10Flickr user Deb Macfadden
Paddle a kayak or SUP across Colorado’s largest natural lake, which affords wide-open panoramas of the surrounding peaks.
7 of 10Flicker user Gallopingphotog
Moose and elk love the mixture of grassy meadows and marshes surrounding the Colorado River, which threads through this broad, mountain-ringed valley.
8 of 10Flickr user Wally Gobetz
Alpine Visitor Center
Located at 11,796 feet, this is the highest visitor center in the National Park Service and overlooks vast swaths of treeless alpine tundra.
9 of 10Flickr user Larry Lamsa
A natural salt lick near these lakes attracts so many bighorn sheep that from May through June, a volunteer crew nicknamed the Bighorn Brigade directs traffic on nearby Trail Ridge Road so that sheep can safely cross.
10 of 10Flickr user Brenda Bombaci
Arguably the most stunning lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Odessa demands a 8.2-mile (round trip) hike. Make it an overnight by nabbing a permit for a backcountry campsite near the lake.