Trip Report and Photos from Rocky Mountain National Park

At the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

Many more photos.

The American Crystallographic Association (ACA) 2016 meeting was in Denver last summer. As I was attending and it ended on Tuesday evening, I decided to spend a few days visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, a couple of hours drive from Denver. I rented a car in downtown Denver and drove up, arriving in Estes Park around 11AM. Being a huge Stephen King fan, I had to splurge and spend one night at The Stanley Hotel.  This is the hotel he was staying while writing and provided the inspiration for The Overlook Hotel in the Shining. In fact, it was used to film the 1997 TV miniseries (though not the 1980 movie with Jack Nicholson). After stopping by, my room was not ready, I grabbed lunch at Pepper’s Mexican Grill just down the hill before heading to the park. I spent the rest of the day driving the Trail Ridge drive all the way through the park to Grand Lake and back with a few stop along the way.

At Lava Cliffs in Rocky Mountain National ParkOn Thursday morning, I was up early to check out of the hotel, stop at the supermarket for breakfast and lunch, and then back into the park to hike Deer Mountain (6.2 miles round trip and 1210 feet elevation gain). I then drove the Old Fall River Road up to the Alpine Visitors Center (at 11,800 feet). After lunch and Huffers Hill, I drove back to Estes Park to poke around town before checking in for two nights at The Maxwell Inn.

On Friday I decided to up the hike a bit and do Flattop Mountain (8.9 miles round trip and 2850 feet elevation gain to 12,300 feet). This was quite a hike and took me a total of about 6 hours. While it was a workout, it was definitely worth it. For the rest of the evening, I poked around Estes Park. On Saturday I drove back to Denver, dropped off the car, and checked into yet another hotel for the evening. I had originally planned to fly home Saturday but ended up daisy chaining another work trip to California right after so I stuck around for the night to fly to San Francisco on Sunday.

Overall, RMNP was quite nice. Unless you plan to do a lot of hiking, it was pretty easy to see in a couple of days. It was also quite busy, especially at the major stops and visitors centers.

Flattop Mountain Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

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