Great Hikes with Kids: Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
One of the largest and most heavily-visited parks in the nation, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is still a gem with plenty of great hikes for families. Expect big crowds, but don’t let that deter your family from visiting this hiking mecca.
To enjoy your time in the park, try to get an early start. Unless you arrive at your designated trailhead before 7 or 8 am, do not expect a parking spot. If you arrive later, head to a Park and Ride. Simply park your car in the designated lot and hop on a bus to the trailhead of your choice. Be sure to confirm with your driver where you are going.
7 Great Rocky Mountain National Park Hikes for Families
All three of these hikes are short and have only modest gains in elevation.
- Bear Lake Loop (0.7-mile loop) is appropriate for strollers and wheelchairs, but highly popular and can get crowded. Go early. You can continue on with the hike to a few more lovely lakes if your crew is up for the challenge.
- Lily Lake Loop (about 1.5 miles round trip) is a great hike with kids, especially little ones. There’s also a good chance of spotting moose, especially late in the afternoon.
- Alberta Falls (about 1.75 miles round trip) offers views of a beautiful waterfall and a scenic spot for a family photo!
The Pool hike (no swimming!) gains only about 150 feet in altitude, while Emerald Lake requires a climb of about 700 feet.
- Emerald Lake (about 3.6 miles round trip) was our first longer hike with our daughter when she was about 6 years-old.
- The Pool (about 3.4 miles round trip) hike is a nice flat trail with plenty of shade. Watch your kids closely at the pool itself.
These two hikes are great hikes with kids featuring a challenging (but doable) elevation gain of about 750 feet.
- Lake Haiyaha (about 4 miles round trip) hike includes some elevation gain and climbing large boulders at the end, which the kids will love.
- Mills Lake (about 5.5 mile round trip) is a quintessential Rocky Mountain National Park hike with gorgeous vistas and good chance of spotting wildlife.
Tips for hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park with kids
- Start hiking in RMNP early in morning to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Bring a raincoat or poncho. Weather can change quickly.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks. A hydration backpack is a great way for a child to stay hydrated.
- Don’t rush and take plenty of breaks. Sit on a rock and enjoy the sounds around you.
- Don’t feed the chipmunks or other wildlife.
- Keep your kids close to you and don’t let them run on the trails.
Places to Stay Near Rocky Mountain National Park
Newly renovated Hilton Fort Collins is just 35 miles from RMNP, central to many outdoor activities, and in an area famous for its breweries. You can stay there or at any of the several other Hilton hotels near the park.
You may also enjoy:
- Happy Trails: 5 Hiking Tips for Kids
- 6 Fun Things to do in Denver with Kids
- 3 Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Denver, CO with Kids
- 10 Great Reasons to Visit Vail, Colorado with Your Family
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A self-proclaimed Jersey Girl (with a soft spot for Jon Bon Jovi), Amy currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and 11-year old daughter. She picked…