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Autumn in Rocky Mountain National Park

Photo: Matthew Inden/ Miles

With almost four and a half million visitors in 2017, Rocky Mountain #NationalPark is also Colorado’s biggest (it’s about 40 percent bigger than Great Sand Dunes National Park).

Established in 1915 with the Rocky Mountain National Park Act, the park was recognized by UNESCO in 1976 by designating it as one of the first World Biosphere Reserves - a designation that demonstrates a balanced relationship between people and nature.

Autumn is a good time to visit, particularly late autumn. Visitor numbers peak in July with a staggering 885,478 visitors and start to tail off as the temperature and the leaves drop. September last year saw almost 700,000 visitors but that was cut almost in half in October and half again in November with just over 140,000 visitors.

As for #autumn specifically, the park has several various types of terrain at altitude, so wearing several layers of warm clothing is highly recommended - a light waterproof jacket might not be a bad idea either. Temperatures in mid-September at the park’s lower elevations (around 8,000 feet) have been known to range from freezing to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which can produce everything from hail and snow to beautiful autumn days.

At the Alpine Visitor Center, at almost 12,000 feet, it isn’t uncommon to see snow and hail in autumn - it is worth remembering that roads can be closed for safety purposes if snow and or hail is significant.

Be sure to bring your camera, as autumn here is spectacular with the landscape turning into a patchwork of yellows, golds, and browns as the aspens change. The sight of the now-changed aspens “quaking” in the wind is something to behold. You may also see elk as they herd, with the bull calling to entice cows, and migratory birds as they flock in preparation for their journey south.

RMNP has plenty of #camping (five campgrounds and over 500 sites), but the three that can be reserved in advance usually are, however there is still some availability for autumn at the time of writing - visit to check and book. The park also has two first-come-first-served campgrounds. Longs Peak Campground and Timber Creek Campground which are closed for the season.

As for what to do, there are 355 miles of #hiking trails, scenic drives, 50 lakes and many streams for #fishing and ranger-led programs.


CAMPING: Five campgrounds with 500+ sites

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