There are plenty of things to do in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer — if you don’t mind a crowd.
The high season draws thousands of tourists to the area to hike, camp and pull over frantically at first sight of an elk. Even if you’re one of them (we can’t all call Colorado home), schedule in some breathing room with these four RMNP favorites you forgot you could do along the Continental Divide.
Take your fishing pole up into the mountains
Fishing has been the sport of choice for RMNP visitors since the good old days, and these days, you can still find brown, brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout in the streams around the park.
While only 48 lakes have reproducing populations of fish and the cold water of the high-altitude lakes means few fish, you can still get a few nibbles up in the mountains.
Pick up a license in town, then skip more crowded streams in favor of carrying your pole and lures with you on your lake-destination hikes, like the trail back to Lake Haiyaha. (Don’t forget to read up on the regulations and rules for fishing in the park!)
Explore the park on four feet — er, hooves
Have an equine companion? Trailer your horse (mules, llamas and burros also allowed — sorry, no goats) into Rocky Mountain National Park to explore the trails on four feet instead of two.
No such luck? Sign up for a trail ride at one of two stables located within the park: Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables. Guides will lead you on horseback along winding trails through aspen groves, along the border of lakes, up the side of a mountain and back to the barn again. You may even cross a river or two.
Visit a ghost town
The discovery of gold near Denver in 1858 lead to a boom in mining towns — followed by a quick bust when no one found quick riches there.
Lulu City was established in 1879 and abandoned just five years later, but you can still see the skeletons of old cabins, broken foundations and scattered artifacts here. The hike to Lulu City is 3.7 miles one way with approximately 600 feet of elevation gain.
Go standup paddleboarding
When asked if we could take a paddleboard into one of the lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park, the ranger’s response was, “Well, I’ve never seen someone do that, but go for it!”
So, if you thought ahead and rented a board or brought your own, launch it at Sprague Lake for beautiful views of the mountains from the middle of the water; it’s a welcome respite from the heavy foot traffic hiking around the perimeter of the area and a perfect way to cool off after a long trek through the mountains.
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