Ultimate Guide to the Best Views in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited National Parks. With 355 miles of trails it’s tough to choose which views in Rocky Mountain National Park are the best. 

This post is sharing 7 different ways you can find the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park. From stunning alpine lake views, to summit panoramas, and drive-up overlooks, this guide has a view for all skill levels. 

7 Ways to Find Stunning Views in Rocky Mountain National Park 

There’s a truly beautiful view everywhere you look in Rocky Mountain National Park. Let’s narrow it down to the best views with this list as your guide.

Alpine Visitor Center 

You have to visit the Alpine Visitor Center while you’re in Rocky Mountain National Park. It might be one of the coolest Visitor Centers I’ve ever experiences.

Snag some park gear, grab a high altitude meal, and enjoy the views. Although there’s ample views from the visitor center itself, there are two trails you can hike from the parking lot for an even better vantage point. 

The Highest National Park Visitor Center
  • Alpine Ridge Trail
    .6 Miles
    The Alpine Ridge Trail begins at 11,796 feet above sea level and climbs a sharp 162 feet to expansive views of the Never Summer Mountains. There are a number of interpretive signs along the way for you to educate yourself while catching your breath. Although this hike is short and on a paved path, it’s important to take the altitude and weather conditions very seriously.

  • Ute Trail
    3-9 Miles
    Cross the street and begin your hike on the Ute Trail towards Milner Pass. The full out and back hike is 9 miles round trip, but we hiked to a stunning alpine pond that offered amazing views of Forest Canyon in the background about 1.5 miles out. Stay on trail to protect the beauty around you and enjoy playful marmots as they scurry around the rocky, ridge line trail.   
Our Ute Trail Turnaround point!

Alpine Tundra via Trail Ridge Road

During your stay in the park, be sure to drive Trail Ridge Road for some of the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge road in is 43 miles from the Estes Park Entrance to Grand Lake in its entirety. Although the entire drive is scenic, the middle 20 miles of this drive is exceptionally beautiful. 

Fairview Curve Viewpoint in Rocky Mountain National Park

Be sure to pit stop at the following Trail Ridge Road Pull-Offs for views in Rocky Mountain National Park of the highest mountains, green valleys, and wildlife.

  • Fairview Curve Viewpoint
    Fairview Curve roadside pull off provides sweeping views of the Kawuneeche Valley.

  • Forest Canyon Overlook
    Park at the small parking lot and take a short walk to some stunning views. You’ll definitely want another layer when you take on these tundra views.

  • Lava Cliffs
    There isn’t a parking lot for Lava Cliffs, but a pull-off to check out the lava formed millions of years ago.

  • Many Parks Curve Overlook
    This is one of the first overlooks you’ll encounter as you climb towards the Alpine Visitor Center. A decent sized parking lot with a cross walk leads you to a beautiful boardwalk view of the valleys and mountains of the Eastern Rockies.

  • Rock Cut
    Pull off and take a short hike to the rocks and panoramic views of Rocky Mountain National Park. This is a space where road builders had to blast straight through rocks to create Trail Ridge Road and it’s pretty amazing.  

  • Sheep Lakes
    This calm and peaceful viewpoint is a bit different from the others. It’s lower elevation The serenity of this view, as wildlife often grazes in the distance, is the perfect way to end your Trail Ridge Road. 
Many Parks Curve Overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park

Best Alpine Lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to 147 lakes, here’s the ones that are absolutely worth a visit.

Photo Credit: MyColoradoParks.com
  • Bear Lake
    .7 Mile Hike

    This family friendly hike is the perfect way to experience alpine lake views in Rocky Mountain National Park. With a total elevation gain of 45 feet, this is generally considered an easy hike. 

    The Bear Lake loop trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park. Expect for there to be a lot of people enjoying these alpine lake Rocky Mountain views when you visit.
  • Lake Haiyaha
    4 Mile Hike

    A beautiful day hike from the Bear Lake Trailhead will bring you past Nymph Lake and Dream Lake to the milky, turquoise Lake Haiyaha. A landslide early in summer 2022 caused the water color to change from the typical Rocky Mountain blue to the milky shade of turquoise you see now. 

    The rock hopping at this lake can get dicey. Tread carefully and find a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the views of the Glacier Basin area.
The milky turquoise waters of Lake Haiyaha
  • Poudre Lake
    Drive up!

    Poudre Lake is a great place to view wildlife. Located on Trail Ridge Road between the Western Park entrance and the Visitors Center, this is a popular pull off.

    Because you can just drive up and park, it’s a perfect spot to stop at dusk or dawn for moose and elk sightings. All three times we drove past the lake, there was beautiful wildlife enjoying the grassy outskirts of the lake.
Wildlife sightings at Poudre Lake
  • Sky Pond
    9.4 Mile Hike

    Sky Pond if one of the most popular hikes with some of the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a long and challenging hike that brings you past Lake of glass, The Loch, and Alberta Falls along the way.

    It is important to note that in order to reach Sky Pond, you’ll have to scramble up a waterfall. Additionally, we were lucky enough to experience a big horn sheep visitor while we enjoyed the dramatic views  that surround the 10,900 foot Sky Pond.
One of the most beautiful views in Rocky Mountain National Park, Sky Pond!
  • Sprague Lake
    .8 Mile Hike

    The Sprague Lake loop is considered an easy route, making it perfect for families and individuals with mobility limitations. The east side of Sprague Lake is considered wheel chair and stroller accessible. 

    With ample benches and lookout views, this hike is perfect for hikers of all abilities. Check out the peaks of the continental divide on the Sprague Lake trail. 

Explore Grand Lake 

Grand Lake is a stunning town located at the western entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s also home to the largest and deepest natural body of water in Colorado. 

Enjoy some of the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park from the water!

Rent a kayak or take a guided, scenic boat tour at sunset to experience stunning Rock Mountain views in a different light. Grand Lake is a hot spot for fishing, boating, sailing, swimming, sunbathing, and other water activities in Colorado. Plan to spend a day here during your Rocky Mountain stay. 

Kawuneeche Valley Hiking Trails

Much of the Kawuneeche Valley was devastated by wildfire late in the 2020 season. With 193,812 acres and about 302 square miles scorched, the beauty of this area has been altered, however, there are still wonderful ways to explore the valley during your visit. 

Hike along the Colorado River for beautiful view of Rocky Mountain National Park

Here are the top Kawuneechee Valley hikes:

  • Adams Falls
    .8 Mile Hike
    This is a popular, short and sweet hike to the overlook of Adams Falls. Descend 55 feet via a series of steps through a narrow rock gorge for the viewpoint. 

  • Cascade Falls
    7.4 Miles
    This multi-tiered cascading waterfall trail is considered a moderate out and back hike. With a 40-50 foot drop through a narrow granite chute, the views from above are absolutely stunning.

  • Colorado River Trail
    1-12 Miles
    There are a few different destinations one could choose for their Colorado River Trail. Keep it simple at .5 miles or increase it to 3.7 miles to the site of Lulu City. Little Yellowstone is another popular viewpoint. No matter which you choose, this is a popular location for viewing elk, moose, coyotes, and fox.

  • Coyote Valley Trail
    2.1 Miles
    Explore the Kawuneeche Valley with opportunities to see wildlife. The Coyote Valley Trail is one of the few wheelchair and stroller accessible trails with beautiful views in Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Shadow Mountain
    9.5 Miles
    This beautiful out and back trail from Grand Lake. Shadow Mountain is unique in that it includes the only surviving fire lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Drive Old Fall River Road for Beautiful Views of the Rocky Mountains

Drive the very first auto route in Rocky Mountain National Park to offer views of the high country. This nature trail for motor vehicles is sure to provide unique views of the park. 

This one-way, uphill route is only open to vehicles under 25 feet. It’s the best scenic drive of United States higher elevations. 

Old Fall River Road provides a few opportunities for exploration. Stop to check out Chasm Falls near the start of your adventure or complete the 1.5 mile out and back Chapin Creek closer to the end of your route. 

This route will keep you on the edge of your seat as it winds it way up to the Alpine Visitor Center. 

Hike Mountains for a Great View of Rocky Mountain National Park

A lot of the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park can be found on the parks summits.

  • Deer Mountain
    6 Miles
    Definitely one of the easier mountain hikes in the park, Deer Mountain is a popular trail. If you’re looking for valley views backed by snow-capped peaks, this is a great hike for you!

  • Flattop Mountain
    8.2 Miles
    Starting at the Bear Lake Parking lot, hikers can expect a steady and strenuous climb to outstanding panoramic views. Enjoy Hallett peak to the south and Notchtop Mountain and the Mummy Range to the North. Continue .7 miles and climb an additional 389 feet to reach the summit of Hallet Peak.

  • Longs Peak
    13.3 Miles
    Longs Peak towers over many of the other Rocky Mountain National Park summits. This is because it is a fourteener, sitting pretty at 14,259 feet. Experienced climbers should summit Longs Peak via the Keyhole route; this is a climbing route, not a hike, and should only be completed by individuals who are aware of and can navigate a route like this.

  • Mount Ida
    9.5 Miles
    Begin at Poudre Lake and climb along the Continental Divide to the 12,889-foot summit of Mount Ida. A majority of this hike is above tree-line and exposed; start early, check the weather, and exercise your best decision making skills.

  • Twin Sisters Peak
    7.5 Miles
    This difficult hike provides spectacular views of Longs Peak. East Twin Sisters peak is slightly higher then the Western, easier to summit peak, however both summits are 11,400 feet and change above sea level.

The Best Time to Experience the Best Views in Rocky Mountain National Park

The best time to visit is the summer and fall months. It may be the busiest time of year, however, all roads are open and the weather conditions are the most mild.

Winter months provide breathtaking views for those who are prepared to explore a snowy, frozen wonderland. 

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