Rocky Mountain National Park has 364 miles or so of trails. Rocky's charms are many in the back country and each mile you go the scenery just keeps getting better. Rocky's trails are very popular in the summer season with limited parking, and with the threat of afternoon thunderstorms, mornings are the best and only time to have the trails to ourselves and have the best views. All the trail heads are a half hour drive from Estes Park.
Hiking Tours are destination goal oriented. We'll be sure to point out amazing park features like geology, plants, and cool nature along the way, but most of the tour time is spent on the trail. We generally don't climb mountain peaks on tours but we can hike from 2 miles to 15 miles if you want. Custom 8-10 hour Hikes to summits like Flattop Mountain or Mount Ypsilon are availble in July and August.
If you are comfortable hiking in other National Parks or natural areas you may not need a guide unless you always find yourself wishing you could ask someone what different flowers, geological features or birds are along the way. Maybe you just want to follow the guide and not worry about planning the trip, finding parking, getting a Timed Entry Permit, and staying on the right trail to an awesome location.
Hiking Poles are available for clients, and in the icy months traction spikes are also provided. April to Mid-June trails will be icy and snow covered so some options may be limited and not for the faint of heart. Early Winter the ice returns making for some potentially icy trails from late October through November most years.
We almost never see large animals on hiking trips, every few trips you may find an elk. If you are interested in wildlife check out the Wildlife Tours. Limited to 4 guests and children 12 and up.
Most trips are best if we start between 4am - 6am, the earlier the better. Hiking Tours are only available in the mornings due to the high risk of thunderstorms. Winter Hiking Tours are often on hard pack snow and icy trails where we need ice cleats and poles which are provided.
Every trail in Rocky Mountain is uphill and rocky so each trip is detailed with a scale of difficulty. Also noted is round trip distance. Faster hikers can do the Medium difficulty hikes in 4 hours.
The hike up to Dream Lake is one of the destinations I think everyone who comes to Rocky Mountain National Park must see. Along the way we'll see the Lily pad covered Nymph Lake, the outlet stream with some cascades, amazing views of Long's Peak, and then Dream Lake. On the way back we'll pass Bear Lake as well. Apirl through early June there will be hard pack ice and snow on the trail. There are great flowers, pine squirrels and if your lucky a snowshoe hare along the way. Often we'll have time to drive lower and look for wildlife or walk around Sprague Lake. Do note that this trail is the most traveled in Rocky, but also the most beautiful easy hike in the park.
If you have some experience hiking, and are active at home walking a few miles at a time without issue you can see Dream Lake and head up to Emerald Lake which offers more great views, a small waterfall, and emerald blue water of Emerald Lake at the base of Hallet's Peak. Between Dream and Emerald Lake, the trail has a lot of steps. (See details on Dream Lake)
March through Mid-June and Mid-October through early December , there will be hard packed ice on the trail requiring ice cleats, hiking poles, and confidence of stepping on ice for about 1/3rd of a mile at the end.
Wild Basin offers very few mountain views but it follows the St. Vrain River. Each mile you go offers you another waterfall. Calypso Cascades tumbles for 200 feet and you are misted along the bridge of this amazing view. June may offer you views of Calypso Ladyslipper Orchids for which the fall is named. We'll also see Copeland Falls, many wildflowers, and more small cascades along the way. (Only after June 5th due to icy trails and snow covering the cascades)
The Bierstadt Lake Trail climbs Bierstadt Moraine 675 feet offering some of the most grand vistas while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Parking is very limited so an early start before sunrise is a must. The trail passes through lodgepole pine forests to aspen groves and even sagebrush and back into the forest near the lake which frames the continental divide from Thatchtop Mountain to Notchtop Mountain. Named for Albert Bierstadt, whose art helped found National Parks.
Dream Lake is the junction of two trails, one up to Emerald Lake, and the other to Lake Haiyaha, which in Arapahoe means "Lake of Rock." The water here is also emerald blue. The trail offers views of Chaos Creek, Glacier Gorge, and Chaos Canyon looking up toward the Continental Divide.
The hike up to Mill's Lake starts off with some great canyon views, then Alberta Falls. Heading up a trail that zigzags past glacial knobs you climb over a rocky slab we'll see Glacier Falls and the cascading Glacier Creek. Mill's itself is below Long's Peak and the view up Glacier Gorge is absolutely amazing.
The Loch starts on the same trail as Mill's Lake so we'll pass Alberta Falls. The Loch's appeal is the fact that most of the lake is surrounded by rocky cliffs towering over the entire area. Its just an amazing sight to behold. There also is a nice cascade along the way, and some great scenery along the trail.
Ouzel Falls, the largest fall in the park, is a beautiful single 30 foot fall rushing over a granite cliff. Along the way we pass Calypso Cascades and Copeland Falls. We'll also hike through the Ouzel Fire burn and see how the forest is regenerating a few decades after the fire. Like Calypso this trail has many great wildflowers.
Hike up to two of the great alpine valleys, Alberta Falls, and hike along Glaicer Creek on a single hike. They are both beautiful in their own unique subalpine alpine lake way. (See above for more details on Mills and The Loch.)
On this full day hike we'll visit Dream Lake, Lake Haiyaha, The Loch, Mills Lake, Alberta Falls, and Bear Lake. By going the right direction more than half the trip is downhill. See all the Bear Lake area lakes in one hike.
This overlook is one of the most beautiful locations in Rocky under 10 miles. We hike up to tree line from Bear Lake with a handful of great views and the Emerald Lake Overlook being the star of the hike.
There are hundreds of great destinations in Rocky Mountain for hikers that want more of a challenge. We don't do summit hike except for Flattop Mountain. You let us know what kind of hiking experience you're looking for.
(Total Is Shown - NOT Per Person, Rate Is The Same For 1 Or 2 Guests)
|1 or 2
|3 or 4
|4 Hour Tour Total (Most Recommended)
|6 Hour Tour Total
|8 Hour Tour Total
|Custom Hikes 9+ Hours
All Hiking Tours are only available in the early morning to ensure parking, avoid afternoon thunderstorms, and for less busy trails.
Tours are limited to only 4 guests so you get personal attention. We only have 4 seats, and 4 sets of excellent gear. All tours are private so the only guests will be the people you invite. Yellow Wood Guiding strives to provide quality experiences for all of our guests.
Tours are designed for adults and have a strict age 12 and up policy. Kids 14 and over enjoy the experience most due to the science being presented at a high school and college level. If your kids are under 16 please read the Safari FAQ to make sure this tour is for your family.
We pick you up from your Estes Park hotel, or if you are staying at a home we would meet up at the Estes Park Visitors Center in our Plug-In Hybrid Electric SUV with a panoramic moonroof and heated seats so you stay warm exploring in comfort.
Each guest has access to Ice Cleats, Black Diamond hiking poles, hand warmers, to keep you safe and to make the most of your Rocky Mountain experience.
*Not included: Park entrance fees are $30 Day pass per car, $35 Week Pass per car or $80 for an annual pass. If you have a Senior, NPS Annual, or US Veterans and Active Duty Pass it is free as long as you have your pass and ID. I do not charge for a pass, as many folks already have one.
Yellow Wood Guiding is Authorized by the National Park Service, Department of Interior to conduct services in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fees for service are strictly for educational nature experiences and photography instruction, not transportation.