It’s been a month since we went to Rocky Mountain National Park so I figured I should finally write about it. We thought this was going to be our favorite park so we planned to have a week here…but…it turned out to be our least favorite national park so far.
And like, I feel bad saying that, because there are a lot of cool people in Colorado, but I got the vibe of ‘we technically have to let you come, but we don’t really want you here’. Again, I always try to be honest in these reviews…and sometimes my honesty isn’t appreciated. That’s okay. This isn’t an attack on you, or your state. I’m just sharing personal experience.
How to get around
Parking lots fill up by 7 am, if not sooner. And with young kiddos, we definitely don’t get there that early. However, there is a shuttle system in Rocky Mountain National Park…but does it run efficiently? No. We asked, “how often do the shuttles run?” and were told “as often as we can.” And this is important to know, especially when you have younger kids— “as often as we can” is not an acceptable answer. After hiking for a few hours we had to wait another HOUR to get on the shuttle, and even then I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to fit on it. Some of this may have had to do with the construction on the side of the road, but I’m not sure.
Oh, we also noticed huge piles of brush in the forest—super cool because they clean it up, then burn it in the winter and this helps keep forest fires from spreading as quickly as they do when the brush isn’t cleaned up.
Hiking | Bear lake
There are tons of trails, but we only ended up hiking one day here because we just weren’t impressed with the overall experience. Maybe our expectations were too high, lol. First, we shuttled up to Bear Lake, which was this little lake (so pretty) with a trail all the way around. TONS of people, so not really a quiet hike, but super easy for the boys.
After hiking there (about thirty minutes with the kiddos and stopping on the trail to look at things), we wondered if there was a trail to the next shuttle stop instead of waiting an hour for it. So I asked the nearest available park ranger to which he snidely replied, “why would you want to do that?” to which I challenged, “why not?” and he directed us to the trail.
Guys. I don’t care who or how old you are, if you’re a jerk to me, most likely going to be a jerk back. It’s not very “woke” of me, pretty “reactionary” or whatever, but it is what it is. And when your kid says, “he wasn’t very nice” then you know it wasn’t just you, lol.
Hiking | Alberta Falls to Shuttle
So we took the trail towards Alberta Falls (we never did get all the way there), but the kids were done where we stopped. I’m pretty sure they were just around the corner, but it’s not always about the destination—but now I know how my dad felt every time we bailed three miles from the top of Mt. Timpanogos.
This trail was quieter than the last, but still crowded at some points. There were squirrels (but someone else told us they were golden marmots or yellow-bellied marmots) that were so friendly. You could lay your hand on the ground (NO FOOD PLZ) and they’d run right up to you and touch you (because they thought you had food). The boys loved them!
We stopped off the trail so the boys could explore the river and then went to head back.
Some Trail Etiquette and how i am the worst
Which brings me to this story: If you’re taking photos, please step off the trail when there are other people. I don’t care if you’re out there in the middle of the trail taking photos (see above) as long as you’re the only ones there. There was one moment when we started down the trail and someone had stopped in the middle of the trail to take a photo (with one of those GIANT lenses). I tried to slow our five-year-old down so he wouldn’t get in the way or scare the marmot, but he did both and she turned and shot us a dirty look, then proceeded to crouch down in the middle of the trail, effectively blocking traffic both ways.
My blood is boiling at this point because kids man, what do you expect, he’s five, don’t be a dick and she’s still blocking everyone. So I waited about 15 seconds and three photos in before realizing she wasn’t going to move, then was like, omg, how long is this going to take, are you really going to block everyone, nah, I’m not waiting for this lady to get her ‘national geographic’ photo to post on Instagram.
Sometimes I’m the worst.
So I take the five-year-old’s hand and start to move down the trail and this b*tch tries to GRAB MY ARM and my child and stop me.
Y’all. I don’t even say Y’all unless I’m about to fight, but Y’ALL.
With a fierce, “DO NOT.” at her, it took everything in my body to keep walking down the trail and not trip her into the river. Ha. But seriously, I was on FIRE (fire sign, no surprise) and I’m pretty sure I scared everyone on the trail and that there was an energy of death and destruction exuding from my body for a good twenty minutes after.
You do not mess with my children.
Lol, can you say “triggered”? I was.
Anyway, we made it back to the shuttle without any more incidents and no one accidentally fell into the river. If our kiddos weren’t so worn out we would have just hiked back down to our car rather than wait, but…wasn’t an option. So we watched three shuttles pass us going up and waited an hour for one to come back down. After our experience we decided we were good with what we saw and went home early.
We LOVED exploring Estes Park. There isn’t much for the kids to do (sorry, boys) but there are lots of jewelry shops and my favorite was Himalayan Arts because of all the singing bowls they had! (I got this one). We also went to a rock shop and while we were there some idiot threw their cigarette out the window and started a fire—I was so impressed with how quickly the fire department responded and how aware the shops around were.
Also, if you see police tape, no one is dead, it’s probably just an elk. Stay away from them, plz and thank you.
Parking—see the shuttle situation.
Bathrooms—there were bathrooms at every shuttle stop! Yay!
When we visited: Third week of September
Remember that it costs money to get into the parks (usually $25 for a day pass, $35 ish for a 3-day pass), but you can buy a year-long pass for $80! We just did this at the first national park we went to.
other national parks:
(this list will get longer as time goes on haha. It’s our goal to visit all of the US national parks.)