Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is a natural playground for kids and families. Mesmerizing views, exotic wildlife encounters, exhilarating hikes and much more makes RMNP an ideal destination for everyone in the family. In addition to RMNP, you will explore Colorado Springs and get a taste of Beautiful Colorado in this fun family friendly trip. Continue reading for an exciting and easy to follow family vacation itinerary to RMNP and Colorado Springs.
Best times to Visit
- June to September is the best time to visit RMNP as the snow will be mostly melted and hiking trails and attractions will be accessible.
- Colorado Springs is best to visit during spring (March to May) or fall (September to October).
- RMNP is one of the highest national parks in United States and one of the country’s top wildlife watching destinations.
- The 30-mile-long Continental Divide Trail runs right through the middle of the RMNP park, splitting it into its Eastern and Western sections.
- Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in United States reaching its highest point at 12,183 ft.
- Colorado Springs has over 300 days of sunshine and blue skies annually.
- To enter RMNP, you need Timed Entry reservation or service reservation in addition to park pass or entrance fee. For more detail, visit the official nps site.
- Carry sun protection, plenty of water and other hiking essentials. Stay on designated trails and do not feed or approach wild animals.
- Offline topological maps will be helpful as cellular connection in RMNP might be spotty.
- Best time to spot wildlife is early in the morning or in the evening.
- Keep an eye for altitude sickness specially when visiting trail ridge road and pikes peak.
- If you plan to drive up to pikes peak, make sure your vehicle meets the requirements.
Recommended daily itinerary
Estimated cost: $600-$1100 per person (Excluding Airfare)
First day of the trip, fly in, make your way to Estes Park and get settled.
- Fly into Denver International Airport.
- Drive to Estes park and check in to Peak to Peak lodge, a family oriented, affordable and clean Motel in Estes Park. This motel is ideally situated, 5 miles to the RMNP and 1 mile to town.
- Rest up, get some snacks and take a stroll through the town and riverwalk.
- Enjoy your dinner at Seasoned An American Bistro. Make reservations ahead of time.
Rocky Mountain National Park – day 1
Explore Trail Ridge road and visit Alpine Visitor center.
- Enjoy homestyle American breakfast at the Egg of Estes.
- Make your way to RMNP Fall River entrance to start your scenic drive through Trail Ridge road. Eleven miles of this high highway travel above treeline, the elevation near 11,500 feet where the park’s evergreen forests come to a halt. As it winds across the tundra’s vastness to its high point at 12,183 feet elevation, Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of their car. Stop by numerous viewpoints along the way and soak in the whole sweep of rockies before you in all directions. Some of the popular viewpoints are Miner Pass, Many Parks Curve, Forest Canyon Overlook and Fairview Curve. Pikas, marmots, ptarmigans, Elks and bighorn sheep are commonly seen, If you get lucky, you might catch a site of a moose or black bear.
- Stop by Alpine visitor center, the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park System. Enjoy panoramic views, shop and grab lunch at the trail ridge store and cafe.
- Hike the Alpine ridge trail (Huffers Hill) that begins from the parking lot of Alpine Visitor center. This short but steep hike travels across alpine tundra. Walk slowly and drink plenty of water as altitude sickness and steep climb after a long car drive might get you sick or lightheaded.
- Head back to Estes park and enjoy authentic Thai/Vietnamese dinner at Cafe de Pho-Thai.
Rocky Mountain National Park – day 2
Get up close with natural beauty of the park on foot exploring popular family friendly hikes.
- Enjoy homestyle breakfast at Mountain Home Cafe.
- Pack your lunch and make your way to Bear Lake Trailhead. Start your day with the easy bear lake loop and take the Emerald lake trail after you complete the loop. This is a 3.6 miles round trip trail through aspen groves and ponderosa pine with moderate elevation gain. Take you time and soak in the the views of Nymph lake and Dream lake along the way. Enjoy your lunch with stunning views of Emerald lake and Hallet peak. This is one of the most popular hike on the park so expect it to be crowded.
- After you’re back to the trail head, head over to Alberta falls for an easy 2 miles round trip hike. Enjoy the scenic 30 foot waterfall thundering into Glacier creek. If you feel tired on your way back, hike down to Glacier Gorge Trailhead and catch a shuttle back to Bear Lake Trailhead.
- Enjoy your dinner at Himalayan Curry & Kebob.
Pit stop at Boulder on your way to Colorado Springs
Drive to Colorado springs and get a quick glance of the vibrant city of Boulder along the way.
- Enjoy delicious breakfast at Cinnamon’s Bakery.
- Checkout from your hotel and make your way to Boulder stopping at Pearl Street. This is a central gathering place where locals and visitors alike come to stroll and shop among the historic storefronts, dine at buzzed-about restaurants, sip coffee, throw back a microbrew or simply people-watch.
- Enjoy lunch at The West End Tavern.
- Head over to Chautauqua Park to enjoy views of the iconic Flatirons and relax for an hour or two. If you feel like stretching your legs, you can hike up to the first and second flatiron.
- Make your way to Colorado Springs and check into DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Colorado Springs.
- Enjoy your dinner at Jake & Telly’s Greek Cuisine.
Garden of Gods, Helen Hunt falls and Seven Falls
Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark featuring stunning geological formations, rock climbing, nature trails and the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center. Seven falls is a breathtaking natural waterfall wonder with seven distinct falls. Helen hunt falls is a 35 foot waterfall located at the top of North Cheyenne canon park.
- Enjoy hearty breakfast at Denver Biscuit Company.
- Head over to Garden of the Gods. Parking is free at the park and it tends to get crowded so plan to get early. You can spend as little or as much time as you want here. Enjoy stunning rock formations navigating through paved walkway. You can also visit the nature center and museum and learn how the amazing red rocks get there. If you are interested in climbing, tours are available at the visitor center that suits your needs.
- Enjoy lunch at Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant.
- Make your way to Helen hunt falls. The drive up to the falls through canyon and views of falls are both impressive. Enjoy the views of the falls from the base or take a short walk to the bridge across the falls. If you want to hike further you can hike up to silver cascade falls for a breathtaking view of the North Cheyenne Canyon.
- Make your way to the BroadMoor seven falls. Take a shuttle from the parking lot to the base of the falls. You can climb up the stairs to the top of the falls or take the elevator. Pay special attention to kids if you are climbing up the stairs.
- Enjoy specialty gourmet burgers at Crave Real Burgers.
Pikes peak highway, caves of the wind Mountain park and Old Colorado City Historic District
Drive through scenic high alpine road and encounter some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world to the 14,115 foot summit of America’s most famous mountain. Explore amazing caverns, experience total cave darkness, and marvel at the beauty of formations hundreds of thousands of years old. Stroll through historic town as you unwind for the day.
- Enjoy early morning breakfast at your hotel.
- Make your way to Pikes peak highway gateway and embark on a thrilling journey. You can drive to the peak or take the Cog railway. While driving allows you to enjoy the road at your own pace, the train does provide an unique experience and possibly better odds of spotting wildlife. If you drive, stop at crystal reservoir and devils playground to walk around and take some pictures. You can get summit views and picture opportunities from both drive or train ride.
- Enjoy delicious middle eastern food at The Sahara Cafe.
- Make your way to Cave of the winds mountain park. You can choose from a variety of activity ranging from cave tour, rides, zip lines and climbing wall. Discover cave tour is an ideal family tour.
- Make your way to old Colorado city historic district. Stroll down the street and explore the shops, colorful murals and enjoy dinner at a restaurant of your choice in the district.
Glimpse of Denver and fly back.
Spend few hours exploring downtown Denver before making your way back home.
- Enjoy breakfast at your hotel.
- Check out from your hotel and make your way to Denver and head over to 16th street. Wander around in Downtown Denver, with no bothersome traffic noise to deal with, at the mile and a quarter long, pedestrianized 16th Street mall. Pick restaurant of your choice in the street to grab your lunch.
- Make your way back to Denver International airport to catch your flight back home.