Family Ramble, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Hike spectacular alpine scenery along the Continental Divide
- Traverse Andrews Glacier and climb 14,256-foot Longs Peak
- Stay in beautiful lodge accommodations with exceptional recreational facilities adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park
- Group meeting facilities, children’s activities, and private rooms with bath/shower
- On-trip transportation, including Denver International Airport transfers
- All meals
|Dates||Jul 12–19, 2014|
Rambling through Rocky Mountain National Park will allow us to experience one of the most beautiful places in the world. The leader and co-leader are former Rocky Mountain National Park rangers and have hiked nearly every corner of the park. They promise to take you to some of the most awe-inspiring areas in one of America's most spectacular national parks.
We'll stay in very comfortable accommodations located adjacent to the park. The lodge will provide meals, evening nature programs, children’s programs, horseback riding (not included in trip price), fishing, and Internet service. The lodge also has available other exceptional recreational facilities, such as swimming, volleyball, miniature golf, ball fields, and basketball and tennis courts.
From our lodge, we will take day trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. Some hikes will be suitable for all members of the family, while others will be more strenuous. On the days that longer hikes are offered, a family member may choose to stay behind to rest, go horseback riding, or take advantage of the lodge’s children’s programs, including an absolutely spectacular craft & design center. Regardless, every day will end with plenty of time to enjoy a nice buffet dinner at the lodge. The evenings are free for each family to spend time on its own or with the group while enjoying the lodge's many recreational and educational facilities.
The trip starts with lunch at our lodge, which is within a stone's throw of Rocky Mountain National Park. Following lunch and a brief orientation, you'll have the chance to explore the resort grounds or just relax. Before dinner we will gather to review logistics and answer any last-minute questions before starting our hiking adventure the next morning.
Hikes are planned so that longer day hikes are typically followed by an easier day. Participants should understand that mountain weather is often unpredictable, which makes each day's route somewhat weather-dependent. When the weather is stormy we will hike in the lower elevations and enjoy the lakes, streams, and waterfalls. When the forecast calls for blue skies, we will try to head for the high-country peaks and glaciers.
All participants are invited to gather after dinner on the last night of the trip to celebrate with a trip into the town of Estes Park for a special dessert and souvenir shopping. The last morning, we will head back to the Denver International Airport at 8 a.m.
Possible destinations include:
Andrews Glacier/Flattop Mountain: From Bear Lake, we will head up Flattop Mountain to the Continental Divide, following it south to Andrews Glacier. We will then descend the glacier and work our way down Glacier Gorge to Alberta Falls and back to Bear Lake. Miles: 11. Elevation gain: 2,850 feet. Highest altitude: 12,325 feet.
Ouzel Falls: From Wild Basin we will enjoy a leisurely hike past several smaller waterfalls to Ouzel Falls, a spectacular cascade where one can also find water ouzels. Miles: 6. Elevation gain: 950 feet. Highest altitude: 9,450 feet.
Lake Haiyaha: From Bear Lake we will hike to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and then continue on to Emerald Lake. We will then travel to Lake Haiyaha for lunch. We will descend to Mills Lake before we make our way past Albert Falls and then back to the trailhead. Miles: 6. Elevation gain: 850 feet. Highest altitude: 10,220 feet.
Long’s Peak/Diamond or Chasm Lake: Weather and stamina permitting, the group will have the opportunity to climb Long's Peak. At 14,256 feet in elevation, Long's is the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, and the 15th highest in Colorado. While not technically difficult, there are areas of exposure, and the 16-mile round trip makes for a long and tiring -- but highly rewarding -- day. An alternative is to hike to Chasm Lake at the peak's base for a magnificent view of "the Diamond," the 1,000-foot vertical east face of Long's Peak; or to Fern and Odessa lakes, which afford phenomenal views of the Little Matterhorn; or to Cub Lake for a chance to see some of Rocky’s most spectacular wildlife. Long’s Peak - Miles: 16. Elevation gain: 4,855 feet. Highest altitude: 14,256 feet. Fern/Odessa Lake – Miles: 9. Elevation gain: 1,215 feet. Highest altitude: 9,900 feet.
Lake of Glass/Sky Pond: From Bear Lake, we will hike past beautiful Alberta Falls and the Loch on our way to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond. Sky Pond sits below the vertical east face of Taylor Peak and just above a waterfall, which we will climb in order to reach the lake. Lake of Glass is a spectacular tarn surrounded by granite peaks that form a dramatic semicircular wall around the lake. Miles: 9.2. Elevation gain: 1,660 feet. Highest altitude: 10,900 feet.
Lulu City: We'll drive over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the world, to the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, while stopping at a number of spectacular overlooks. From here we will hike along the headwaters of the Colorado River to an old abandoned mining camp, taking some time to dip our toes into the Colorado before venturing into the mountain community of Grand Lake for some ice cream! Miles: 1. Elevation gain: 350 feet. Highest altitude: 9,360 feet.
Black Lake: From Bear Lake, we will hike past beautiful Alberta Falls to Mills Lake and then on up a spectacular glacial-carved valley, taking some time to enjoy an amazing waterfall or two before reaching Black Lake, a seldom visited gem located just below tree line, surrounded by sheer granite walls. Miles: 9.4. Elevation gain: 1,390 feet. Highest altitude: 10,620 feet.
The closest major airport to Estes Park, Colorado, is Denver International Airport, approximately 75 miles from our lodge. From the airport, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or meet the trip leader at a designated Rent-a-Car facility near the airport at 10:00 a.m. on day one for transportation to the lodge by van. The trip to Estes Park is spectacular, so you will want to make the trip during the daylight hours.
Accommodations and Food
The trip price includes lodge accommodations. Each room sleeps up to five people and has a private bath, two queen beds, a futon, and telephone. All towels and bedding items are provided. Wireless internet service is available in your room and in other public areas of the lodge. The facility also offers a variety of recreational activities to enjoy on your free time, including a craft & design center, horseback riding, hiking trails, fishing, archery, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, miniature golf, disc golf, and a library.
Note: Single trip participants (one person in room) will be charged a single room supplement of $500.
All food is served cafeteria-style. The group will eat all breakfasts and dinners in the cafeteria, and all lunches will be prepared for us by the lodge staff and eaten on the trail. Vegetarian options are available.
The difficulty of the day hikes ranges from moderate to strenuous. We will hike both on- and off-trail, although the vast majority of the trip will cover very well established and maintained trails. We will be hiking between 7,000 and 14,256 feet. Although most of our hikes will be below the tree line of 11,000 feet, we will spend a portion of our hiking time above tree line on the tundra. Each of our hikes (except Long's Peak) should last no longer than eight hours; there will be plenty of time to rest each night at the lodge.
Trip participants should have experience hiking with a backpack or day pack over long distances. High altitude experience is not necessary, but you must be comfortable hiking at a high altitude on steep trails. In order to fully enjoy the trip, participants will need to participate in a regular aerobic exercise program prior to the trip.
Equipment and Clothing
Trip members are expected to furnish their own backpack (day pack) and personal gear, including raingear (pants & jacket), lightweight insulating layers, and adequate hiking boots or hiking shoes. Please make sure all gear has been field tested, especially hiking boots! The leader will send a more detailed equipment list to registered participants within a month of the trip.
- Rocky Mountain National Park trail maps can be obtained from the Rocky Mountain Nature Association at http://www.rmna.org/rmna.cfm, or via telephone at (800) 816-7662, or by writing RMNA, c/o Rocky Mountain National Park, Highway 36, Estes Park, CO 80517.
- Dannen, Kent and Donna, Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Trails. Available from the Rocky Mountain Nature Association.
- Rocky Mountain National Park at http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm
Our discussions will center on the following wilderness themes:
- The importance of clean air and water
- Global Warming: Are RMNP glaciers melting away?
- National Parks: Why are they so important for our future?
- Park Budgets: Are national parks falling behind?
- Wildlife & Exposure: Know when to play it safe!
- Local topics of special interest
In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.