There are four ecosystems, or zones, in Rocky Mountain National Park: montane, subalpine, alpine tundra, and riparian. The riparian zone occurs throughout all of the three other zones. Each individual ecosystem is composed of organisms interacting with one other and with their surrounding environment. Living organisms (biotic), along with the dead organic matter they produce, and the abiotic (non-living) environment that impacts those living organisms (water, weather, rocks, and landscape) are all members of an ecosystem.
Situated in Southern Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is an impressive sight. Shaped by winds blowing from and against the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the piles of sand climb to more than 750 feet (230 meters), making them the tallest dunes in North America. Sand-boarding, skiing and sledding on the dunes are the park’s most popular activities, and there are medium-size slopes to slide on located near the main parking area. A longer hike to the north brings thrill seekers to a 300-foot (90 meter) slope that tumbles onto into Medano Creek.
The Silk Pincushion is a lovely Victorian bed and breakfast in the heart of Golden that promises an unforgettable stay. Three beautifully decorated Victorian-style guest rooms exude luxury and charm with large beds dressed in homemade quilts, private bathrooms with showers, deluxe toiletries and soaps, and other modern amenities such as free wireless Internet throughout the house. Homemade breakfast is served each morning in the bright and sunny dining room, where you can relax over freshly brewed coffee and chat with the owners.
The montane ecosystem is at the lowest elevations in the park, between 5,600 to 9,500 feet (1,700 to 2,900 m), where the slopes and large meadow valleys support the widest range of plant and animal life, including montane forests, grasslands, and shrublands. The area has meandering rivers and during the summer, wildflowers grow in the open meadows. Ponderosa pine trees, grass, shrubs and herbs live on dry, south-facing slopes. North-facing slopes retain moisture better than those that face south. The soil better supports dense populations of trees, like Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and ponderosa pine. There are also occasional Engelmann spruce and blue spruce trees. Quaking aspens thrive in high-moisture montane soils. Other water-loving small trees like willows, grey alder, and water birch may be found along streams or lakeshores. Water-logged soil in flat montane valleys may be unable to support growth of evergreen forests. The following areas are part of the montane ecosystem: Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park, Kawuneeche Valley, and Upper Beaver Meadows.
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest national parks in the nation, with elevations from 7,860 to 14,259 feet (2,396 to 4,346 m), the highest point of which is Longs Peak. Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved through-road in the country, with a peak elevation of 12,183 feet (3,713 m). Sixty mountain peaks over 12,000 feet (3,658 m) high provide scenic vistas. On the north side of the park, the Mummy Range contains a number of thirteener peaks, including Hagues Peak, Mummy Mountain, Fairchild Mountain, Ypsilon Mountain, and Mount Chiquita. Several small glaciers and permanent snowfields are found in the high mountain cirques.
Within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, more than 100 peaks rise above 11,000 feet in altitude, including Longs Peak at 14,259 feet. These amazing mountains cradle the Estes Valley, providing residents and guests with incredible beauty and inspiration. Many of the taller peaks make up the Continental Divide, where snowmelt runs either west to the Pacific Ocean or east to the Atlantic. The park's vistas are accessible by horseback, on foot, or by car - the most notable vehicle route being Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved highway in North America. No matter your level of interest, adventure awaits you while viewing, exploring and appreciating this breathtaking collection of mountains.
The park may be accessed through Estes Park or via the western entrance at Grand Lake. Trail Ridge Road, also known as U.S. Route 34, connects the eastern and western sides of the park. The park has a total of five visitor centers. The Alpine Visitor Center is located in the tundra environment along Trail Ridge Road, while Beaver Meadows and Fall River are both near Estes Park, with Kawuneeche in the Grand Lake area, and the Moraine Park Discovery Center near the Beaver Meadows entrance and visitor center.
If you wish to have a romantic dinner outside of the hotel or resort you are staying at in Colorado Springs, you have to go to the Pepper Tree Restaurant. Its stylish architecture makes the restaurant one of the most beautiful in Colorado. You can enjoy spectacular views of the city skyline from the restaurant while feasting on a romantic dinner with your love. The restaurant serves high quality seafood, steak,s and legendary wines. Dining at the Pepper Tree Restaurant is a romantic and memorable culinary experience.
Central ColoradoFind yourself in Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak. We have five historic trains to transport you back to the days of cowboys and gold mining. Endless trails allow you to enjoy the abundant sunshine and spectacular scenery. A family vacation in Colorado Springs is the smart choice – great lodging values, a long list of low-cost or no-cost activities, and adventure around every corner. Order your free guide today.
The famous hot springs of Glenwood is a must-see and do for all romantics. Located in Glenwood Springs, less than 3 hours from Denver, the historic and local family-owned Hotel Denver spans more than 100 years with many stories to tell, including Colorado immigrants, prohibition, gangsters, world wars, and even a Wild West shooting or two. This Colorado hotel has bragging rights to prime real estate in historic downtown Glenwood Springs, close to the train, many restaurants, shopping, the Hot Springs Pool, and our personal favorite, the Iron Mountain Hot Springs.
Hands down, Crested Butte is my favorite summer destination in Colorado. In addition to world-famous mountain biking and hiking (the views from Snodgrass Mountain are second-to-none), don’t miss the four-week long Crested Butte Music Festival (with the free Divine Family Young People’s Concert July 13, 20 and Aug. 3) and the Wildflower Festival (July 8-14, 2013) where you’ll swear you climbed onto a Monet canvas of mad, extravagant colors. Last winter, CBMR purchased the Coke Zero Gravity BagJump; a 50 feet by 50 feet bag of air for guests to tube and ski and ride into. Come summer, the resort will be setting up two levels of scaffolding at 10 feet and 20 feet for kids and adults alike to jump into the cloud-like bag of air. The resort will also be building a dirt jump for biking enthusiasts to practice their jumping skills with their bicycles for an added adrenaline rush, as if the 25 miles of trails in the Evolution Bike Park isn’t enough. For younger kids, check-out the Trailhead Children’s Museum and big kids (must weigh at least 70 pounds) can try the Crested Butte Zipline Tour, which includes five zip lines ranging in length from 120 – 400 feet connected by features or “events” such as suspended wood bridges and towering platforms. P.S. A few years ago, my kids did Kids Nature Camp at world-renown Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in nearby Gothic, Colo. and still rave about it.
“If my internship changes and I’m not able to do what I expected to do, that’s not a huge deal in comparison to others’ problems. My concern is for the more established park rangers,” said Burkey, who hails from Ohio. “I don’t have a family and kids to provide for. My future coworkers, my supervisor, they do have a family, bills and a mortgage. And they’re the ones not getting paid.”
Estes Park vacation rentals are always worth considering, but be sure to check the calendar before you book and you could enjoy something even more special. Estes Park hosts a variety of events throughout the year, any of which would make a great addition to your vacation itinerary. For example, in early June, the Estes Park Jazz Fest takes place and features jazz musicians from across the country and beyond.
An alpine village peppered with an array of modern resorts, Beaver Creek is the perfect weekend getaway destination. A laid-back ambiance of unhurried travelers, here visitors can get away from it all with the area’s world-class skiing and resort amenities. With gorgeous Rocky Mountain views, Beaver Creek is located in the Vail Valley and offers plenty of activities to fill a weekend itinerary. Many people come to try their hand at the 1,815 acres of skiable slopes, catering to both novice and experts alike. The area has plenty of other things to do, however, as visitors can take in a show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, or indulge in anything from golf courses to pampering spas, shops and restaurants, with the city even home to a large outdoor ice rink in its city center.
Nestled below Colorado's radiant mountaintops is beautiful Lazy R Cottages in Estes Park. Just one mile from Rocky Mountain National Park, we offer one-, two- and three-bedroom cabins perfect for romantic escapes and family vacations. Our cabins have kitchens or kitchenettes, fireplaces, decks with mountain views, and some with personal hot tubs … perfect for relaxing after a day enjoying Estes Park and the National Park. Dog-friendly units available ($15 per dog/per night). Free Wi-Fi. View more about our Estes Park cabins.
Here you can go on an art walk, attend a current event or festival, and learn all about Greeley’s history at the Centennial Village Museum. The Colorado Model Railroad Museum is another must-see attraction, or you could explore the outdoors by hiking the Poudre River Trail or the Pawnee National Grasslands or playing a round of golf. Keep reading for more Colorado points of interest.
The nearest airport is Denver International Airport and the closest train station is the Denver Union Station. Estes Park may be reached by rental car, shuttle or RTD bus. During peak tourist season, there is free shuttle service within the park and the town of Estes Park provides shuttle service to Estes Park Visitor Center, surrounding campgrounds, and the Rocky Mountain National Park's shuttles.
Rising from 7,800 feet to 12,000 – even 14,000 feet in some places – RMNP is a high-elevation park and if you don't give yourself time to adjust to the thinner atmosphere and lower oxygen levels, you could run the risk of getting the headaches, nausea and disorientation characteristic of altitude sickness. Along with taking a day or so to acclimate to the high altitude, you should make sure to consume plenty of water and food to ward off symptoms.
With a year-round ski resort and a unique Gold Rush history behind it, Breckenridge is a fun place to visit in Colorado. One must-see while here is the Breckenridge National Historic District, which runs along Main Street and features colorful buildings from the 1800s that house shops, restaurants and galleries. Other fun things to do include hiking, skiing, a wildlife preserve, children’s museum, and more.
Glacial geology in Rocky Mountain National Park can be seen from the mountain peaks to the valley floors. Ice is a powerful sculptor of this natural environment and large masses of moving ice are the most powerful tools. Telltale marks of giant glaciers can be seen all throughout the park. Streams and glaciations during the Quaternary period cut through the older sediment, creating mesa tops and alluvial plains, and revealing the present Rocky Mountains. The glaciation removed as much as 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of sedimentary rocks from earlier inland sea deposits. This erosion exposed the basement rock of the Ancestral Rockies. Evidence of the uplifting and erosion can be found on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park in the hogbacks of the Front Range foothills. Many sedimentary rocks from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras exist in the basins surrounding the park.
The Leland House and Rochester Hotel are family-owned historic hotels with an authentic Western theme. The 14 rooms at the Rochester Hotel are themed after Westerns that were filmed in the Durango area. Each of the 12 accommodations in the Leland House is named after a historic Durangoan and is decorated with that person’s memorabilia, biographies and photos. All rooms have Wi-Fi, cable, Aveda products, complimentary gourmet breakfast and free Cruiser bike rentals. Grab a drink at the Rochester Bar which serves the hotel’s signature Rochester wine.
Fishing was a popular pastime for early visitors to the park, and it remains so today, with anglers catching several types of trout, including brown, brook, rainbow and cutthroat. Note: A valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. For current Colorado fishing license fees visit the Colorado Division of Wildlife website.
Aspen is a lovely town, best known for phenomenal skiing, but Aspen offers a host of other outdoor activities, such as cycling, hiking, kayaking, fly fishing, and horseback riding. Celebrate your romantic connection with a spectacular hot air balloon ride over the four mountain areas of Buttermilk, Snowmass, Aspen, and Aspen Highlands at sunrise or sunset while sipping champagne and indulging in chocolate-covered strawberries. Pamper each other with a customized couple’s massage at the Remede Spa at the St. Regis Hotel, then luxuriate in the hot tub where three waterfalls tumble down a stone wall. Enjoy some French cuisine and ample wine choices at the Rustique Bistro.
One of the best properties situated in Manitou Springs is Cliff House at Pikes Peak, which is perfect for your romantic getaway. Why do we call it perfect? Other than the superb facilities, such as a fitness center and great restaurants, the hotel’s location near the beautiful downtown Manitou Springs is ideal for fun. In around a 5 minute walk, you and your partner can explore the city all day together.
Owners Wendye Sykes and Shelley Powers came to Estes Park from San Francisco looking for an escape from the grind of everyday city life — and that’s exactly what they’ve created at River Spruce. Offering nine different cabins, you’ll find lodgings suitable for couples and families all nestled amidst the scenic Rocky Mountain wilderness and along the Big Thompson River.
Another of Colorado's fourteeners, Mount Evans reaches an elevation of 14,271 feet. Almost equally impressive is the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, which extends almost to the summit. This is the highest paved road in the United States, reaching over 14,130 feet. The views from the top and on the way up, above the tree line, are outstanding, with meadows, lakes, and rolling mountains extending out into the distance. The area is so open and exposed that you have a good chance of seeing wildlife, particularly bighorn sheep.
The Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver offers vacationers historic accommodations, a great spa, fitness center and a gourmet restaurant. Each room and suite at the hotel is individually furnished, featuring unique touches such as antique headboards and romantic claw foot tubs. Plush amenities include flat-screen HD TVs and Bose radios with an iPod docking station. Stay in touch while traveling by connecting through complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi on your phone, tablet or laptop. The Corner Room is especially romantic, letting you enjoy the view of the street below through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Most visitors enter the park through the eastern entrances near Estes Park, which is about 71 miles (114 km) northwest of Denver. The most direct route to Trail Ridge Road is the Beaver Meadows entrance, located just west of Estes Park on U.S. Route 36, which leads to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and the park's headquarters. North of the Beaver Meadows entrance station is the Fall River entrance, which also leads to Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road. There are three routes into Estes Park: I-25 to U.S. 34 west which runs alongside the Big Thompson River; U.S. 36 west (northwest) from Boulder connecting to U.S. 34 west; and the Peak to Peak Highway, also known as State Highway 7, from points south.
Loveland, dubbed as the ‘Sweetheart City’ and known nationwide for its Valentine’s Day Love Stamp Program, is near the college town of Fort Collins in northern Colorado. Rent a charmingly restored 1903 Victorian cottage for your love nest, or snuggle together in a neighborhood home just minutes from hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park. A visit to the Sweetheart City Winery is a great opportunity to sample some local wines while checking out original oil paintings inspired by a trip to Tuscany. Voted by locals as one of the most romantic places in Loveland, South Shore Parkway is certain to aid in a stolen kiss or two. Sample small plates and incredible desserts at Door 222 Food and Drink, a downtown gem not to be missed.
The St. Regis Resort offers castle-like grandeur and a staff that will treat you like royalty. It also has a menu of romantic vacation packages that are perfect for honeymooners, and all can be customized just for you and your new spouse. You can choose things like in-room dining, spa gift certificates for its decadent Remede Spa, as well as having flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries and sparkling wine delivered and waiting in your room upon your arrival. The property sits at the base of Aspen Mountain, just steps away to many of Aspen’s top restaurants and shops. The resort has its own eatery onsite too, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as hosting live music at night.
Golden is less than an hour drive from Denver and you’ll love escaping to its stunning views and small-town feel. There are lots of amazing restaurants to check out, some fantastic theater to enjoy and a long street filled with tons of quaint shops, perfect for browsing. Book your room at the Dove Inn Bed and Breakfast and you’ll also have a romantic getaway retreat that is very affordable. You can even add in a special romance package which includes a dozen roses, a box of premium chocolates and sparkling cider for an additional $50. If you want to splurge a little, opt for the Serenity Suite, with an over-sized jet tub for two, cathedral ceilings and, of course, a delicious home-cooked breakfast.
If you were any closer to the national park, you'd be in it! No street lights, power lines or major roads. Just peace, wilderness & wildlife, and sounds of the river! Each of our 12 cabins is unique & comfy. Walk to Park trails, or fish the Big Thompson River. Just 2.5 miles west of downtown Estes Park, dining & shopping options are never far away. Aspen Brook Details.
Tucked away in Wondervu in the heart of Golden, Colorado, Eldora Lodge is a lovely mountain ski lodge and retreat that offers comfortable accommodation and a plethora of outdoor activities. Guests can enjoy bed and breakfast lodgings in cozy log cabins, which are fully equipped with en-suite bathrooms and modern amenities, including climate control and flat-screen televisions.
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top!