Rocky Mountain National Park Mid June with Kids


Auribus Teneo Lupum
Dec 27, 2012
I am planning to visit RMNP mid June. I am aware of permits and the process. However, I have never been to the park. I was hoping to get some information on day hikes that are local favorites, good car camping sites, maybe a short 1 1/2 mile in hike to a backcountry site, and so forth. I’m taking twin 6 year olds that can carry a full pack about 3 miles round trip through moderate terrain. I will be entering via the Longmont side. Any suggestions are appreciated.
Nymph Lake -> Dream Lake - Emerald Lake gets more beautiful as you go and your kids can hack it. A little over 3mi total round trip to the furthest lake.

It starts at Bear Lake so get there early or plan to deal with shuttles.

Nymph Lake -> Dream Lake - Emerald Lake gets more beautiful as you go and your kids can hack it. A little over 3mi total round trip to the furthest lake.

It starts at Bear Lake so get there early or plan to deal with shuttles.

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Yeah, that one is super popular but it is super popular for a reason; it really does have amazing views. Another gem is the Ute Trail off of Trail Ridge Road. You park at the top (above treeline) and just stroll along for as far as you want, with amazing views looking down into Forest Canyon. When we did that one (about 3 years ago), there wasn't much parking at all, so you have to get lucky to get a parking spot. But the upside to this is that if you get a spot, then you at least know there won't be very many people (because of the limited parking)!

If you're interested in longer hikes (if you manage to get a morning free without the kids), there are lots of good options as well.

RMNP is a great place to bring kids or first-time backpackers, since many of the sites have privies and you don't have to compete with others for a spot once you have the permit. One way to make the trip into an adventure is to park the car at one trailhead and then spend your two short days hiking to your endpoint trailhead, and then take the shuttle back to your car. For example, you could start at Bear Lake, then hike down to the upper mill creek campsite (2.3 miles but a gentle downhill), then on day 2, you hike out to hollowell park trailhead (1.7 miles downhill) and take the shuttle back to Bear lake. I actually had this exact trip planned for the same time of year a couple of years ago, but ended up cancelling for some reason.
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Dream Lake is perfect for what you're looking for, and it's one of the classic views in the park. It's also the one hike that you'll see half the people in the park.

Gem Lake is also a decent distance, though it's a bit steeper and not quite as scenic. It will however, be much less people to deal with.

Drive to the top of trail ridge road and the visitors center - if you can find parking, get out and have the kids run up to the top of the hill next to the parking lot. It'll be over 12,000 feet if I remember correctly. (if you do the next paragraph, you'll have to go through this parking lot as well on the way out)

Take Fall River Road (it's a dirt road with some holes, but doable in a regular passenger car - probably not an RV or overly long vehicle though) to near the top. There's a wood fence on the right side of the road and area to park. There are a couple of places to hike to, one is a very short hike, the other is longer and at altitude, but it goes up to Marmot Point, which is a fantastic view. (and you're almost guaranteed to see Marmots)

Bierstadt Lake is another short-ish hike. It's pretty steep until you get up in the forest where it levels out for the last little bit to get to the lake. Beautiful views of Hallett Peak from there.

On the west side, there's East Inlet at the edge of the town of Grand lake. It's a short hike to Adams Falls where most people hike. (a la Dream Lake) Past the falls sees less people. There's a great chance to see moose here, though keep your distance if you do. They're big, quicker than they look and ornery. Keep your distance and a tree between you and the animal if at all possible. There's a beautiful meadow about a mile or so in with great views.
Mid-June is much too early unless you're prepared for a lot of snow.

We’ve hiked up to Dream Lake in March before with nothing but boots. The trail is so beat down from a million feet it’s pretty easy going.

(edited to protect the paranoid… )

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