Rocky Mountain National Park

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OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Rocky Mountain National Park's official print brochure. The brochure is a two-sided, color paper brochure that is available in person at the park's entrance stations. This version interprets Rocky Mountain National Park's brochure with text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps.

The brochure explores the history of Rocky Mountain National Park, it's ecosystems, wilderness areas, safety tips, and provides information to help with planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 37 minutes. 

To improve the listening experience, this information has been divided into 22 different sections. Sections 1-5 include overview information on the park and common definitions used throughout this brochure. Sections 6-15 cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding the park's ecosystems, plants, wildlife, and general park history.  Sections 16-22 cover the back of the park's brochure and include information on lightning, other safety topics, and a detailed description of Rocky Mountain National Park's Map.

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OVERVIEW: Common Definitions

Continental Divide

The Continental Divide is a mountain range which naturally separates watersheds beginning in Alaska slicing through Canada, the United States, and South America. It is the longest continental divide in the world.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, the Continental Divide enters the Park on the northern side east of Lulu City, stretching to the center of the park before exiting the southern border, creating two distinct watersheds. The western side sheds water to the Pacific Ocean and the eastern funnels water to the Atlantic Ocean.

The portion of the Continental Divide Trail through Rocky Mountain National Park offers 30 miles of beautiful scenery, exposing snow-capped mountain peaks, lush subalpine forests, high tundra, a variety of wildlife, alpine flowers, traversing elevations between 8,000 to 11,500 feet.


"Park" is a multiuse word in this area. In the early 1800s, French-speaking trappers called broad, mountain meadows "parks," meaning enclosures. In the State of Colorado, historically the definition of the word "park" refers to mountain meadows.

Many meadow areas in Rocky Mountain National Park have the name “park” associated with them, including the townsite of Estes Park and the meadows of Horseshoe Park and Moraine Park.

Many Parks Curve, the first big scenic overlook on the east side of Trail Ridge Road, is named for the many meadows and parks that it looks across, including Estes Park, Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, and Horseshoe Park.

The National Park Service defines a national park as an area that contains a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of those wonderful, protected places.

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OVERVIEW: Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is located in north central Colorado, approximately 2 hours northwest of Denver or 2 hours southwest of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Established on January 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses 415 square miles of the southern Rocky Mountains and was created to preserve and provide access to the unique alpine tundra ecosystem. Visitors can experience scenic beauty, wildlife viewing, natural features, designated wilderness, and human history.

The elevation of Rocky Mountain National Park varies from 7,840 feet (2,390 meters) at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to 14,259 feet (4,346 meters) at the summit of Longs Peak. 

The Continental Divide bisects the park east to west and is one of the most prominent natural features.

Park visitors enjoy a wide variety of wilderness terrain, including meadows, pine forests, alpine lakes, and mountain peaks. The park is home to 66 species of mammals, 280 species of birds, and more.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular year-round destination with over 4 million visitors annually. As one of the busiest national parks, visitors enjoy many activities including hiking, wildlife viewing, snowshoeing, camping, and fishing. There is something for everyone!

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

The National Park Service is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to benefit from our facilities, programs, services, and activities, both indoors and outdoors.

Service Animals

Service animals are welcome in Rocky Mountain National Park. Service animals are permitted in all park facilities and on all trails, with the exception of areas closed by the Superintendent to protect park resources. 

Service animals are dogs that have been individually trained to perform specific tasks for the benefit of persons with disabilities. A service animal that is allowed in park facilities, trails, etc., must be doing so in the service of a disabled person. 

Emotional support ("therapy animals") are not service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but are pets, and may not access trails or other non-motorized areas, nor park buildings. Service dogs-in-training are not service animals under ADA, but are considered pets. 

Pets are prohibited in all areas of Rocky Mountain National Park not accessible by motor vehicles, including all trails, tundra, and meadows. Leashed pets may be along established roads, in parking areas, and within established campgrounds and picnic areas.

Be aware that it is common for other visitors to ask questions, make unwanted remarks, or to report service animals to law enforcement officers if they are not aware the dog is a service animal and allowed to be in locations where pets are not generally allowed. For these reasons, it is recommended that service animals wear a visible identification vest while in the park.

Braille and Large-Print Brochures

Braille and large-print brochures are available at Beaver Meadows and Fall River Visitor Centers. 

Park Film

An audio described and captioned video on Rocky Mountain National Park is available at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

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OVERVIEW: Traveling with Pets

Pets and owners have a special bond. But a national park is not always the best place for pets. Rocky Mountain National Park is a designated natural area, and its purpose is to preserve and protect the park's natural conditions, scenic beauty, and wildlife.

Pets are prohibited in all areas of Rocky Mountain National Park not accessible by motor vehicles, including all trails, tundra, and meadows. 

Leashed pets may accompany you only in the following areas:

  • Along established roads or in parking areas
  • In established campgrounds and picnic areas

Pets must be kept on leashes no longer than six feet. Pets may not make noise that impacts visitors or wildlife. Pet owners must pick up and dispose of pet excrement in trash receptacles. 

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OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure

The front side of Rocky Mountain National Park's brochure includes photographs, maps, and text descriptions highlighting significant locations and resources found inside the park. Most photos are color unless otherwise indicated.

At the top of the page there is a thick black bar that stretches across the width of the page. Inside the bar there is white text of varying sizes. On the far left, the text reads "Rocky Mountain." To the right the text reads "Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado." On the far right side of the bar the text reads "National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior." To the very far right the National Park Service arrowhead color logo is located, fully within the width of the black bar.

Each photograph or map and the associated text are described in detail under their own sections. The text sections provide descriptive information about the natural landscape and history of Rocky Mountain National Park

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IMAGE, MAP, and TEXT: Nature's Knife


SYNOPSIS: A panoramic color photo depicts summer on the alpine tundra.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A panoramic color photo depicts summer on the alpine tundra which stretches across the entire width of the top of the brochure. Blue sky peeks through white and gray clouds above the towering Rocky Mountains of the Continental Divide. The mountains have rounded, rocky summits laced with white snowfields. The dark evergreens at treeline hug the irregular mountain bases. The sky plus the mountains form the top half of the photo. The middle of the picture highlights the rolling alpine tundra, a meadow-like area with short green plants mixed with small bright yellow Alpine sunflowers. The Alpine sunflowers are daisy-shaped with a round, dark yellow center surrounded by yellow petals. A haphazard jumble of various sizes of lichen-covered rocks cascades from the right foreground sloping to the left of the picture. Light green, gray-green, black and orange colored lichens form small patches across the rock surfaces.

CAPTION: Alpine sunflowers (Rydbergia grandiflora) at the Continental Divide.


SMALL INSET MAP ON LEFT:  The Continental Divide

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Below the large, featured panoramic image there is a small square black and white illustration that shows the outline of North America, including Alaska, Canada, the continental United States, and Mexico. The Rocky Mountain range is featured from Alaska and western Canada south through the western United States into Mexico. Rocky Mountain National Park is located in the southern part of the Rocky Mountain range, represented as a small dot on the map.

CAPTION: The Rocky Mountains form one of the world’s longest ranges, stretching almost unbroken from Alaska to below the nation’s southern border. The park preserves a small but important neighborhood within this range.

RELATED TEXT: Nature’s Knife Edge

To ascend Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road is to leave this world and enter another. It carries you, breathless with wonder and altitude, toward a fragile alpine realm, the tundra. Most animals hibernate or migrate during the harsh winters. No trees can live here.

Despite the brief, six-week growing season, plants survive. Most conserve energy by miniaturizing. Each July thousands of brilliant alpine sunflowers burst from the thin blanket of soil that covers parts of the tundra. For decades these hardy plants have worked toward this moment. Many tundra flowers track the sun to maximize their intake of light, required for photosynthesis.

Park your vehicle at the Alpine Visitor Center and behold 360-degree views of astonishing peaks, lakes, snowfields, canyons, forests, and meadows spread over 400 square miles. For a close look at the alpine ecosystem, explore the Tundra Communities Trail to the east. To the west, the Continental Divide splits the continent into two watersheds. One flows west to the Pacific, the other east to the Atlantic.

On the park’s drier east side, snow blows in from the wetter west, replenishing the few remaining glaciers. All rest in cool, dark valley cirques, or bowl-shaped depressions. Higher summer temperatures since the 1990s have caused the glaciers to melt back. On the park’s west side, in the Never Summer Mountains, the Colorado River begins as a tiny stream fed by snowmelt. It is responsible for some of the most iconic scenery in the world and supports varied recreational opportunities, servers as vital species habitat, holds deep Tribal significance, and provides water to 42 million people.

Thrust skyward by Earth’s forces 40 to 70 million years ago, then sculpted by multiple glacial episodes, the Rockies are “new” in geologic terms. In 2009 Rocky Mountain National Park, a small neighborhood within this vast mountain range, became designated wilderness. Nature has always ruled this wild, fantastic place. As human-triggered events outside park boundaries increasingly affect life within the park, how will nature respond? What is our role in caring for this wilderness to ensure it remains for our descendants?

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OVERVIEW: Alpine Tundra

About one-third of Rocky Mountain National Park is covered in alpine tundra. It was one of the reasons that Rocky Mountain was established as a national park.

Two roads provide vehicle access to the alpine tundra, so visitors can experience firsthand the "land above the trees."

Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in North America and crosses alpine tundra for about 11 miles. Old Fall River Road, a one-way historic dirt road, meets Trail Ridge Road at the Alpine Visitor Center, the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park Service at 11,796 feet or 3,595 meters.

Bitterly cold temperatures, strong winds, dry air, bright sunlight, and high elevations combine to create a beautiful but harsh climate. For up to 8 months of the year, the average daily temperature is below freezing. Winds, especially in winter, can blow over 100 miles per hour, or 161 kilometers per hour. These high winds dry out the air. Ultraviolet light is twice as strong here as at sea level.

Alpine plants are highly specialized to help cope with their harsh mountaintop climate. These plants are small and hug the ground with a variety of adaptations, including hairy stems and leaves to keep them warm; and thick, waxy cuticles to prevent moisture loss. Treeline is primarily determined by temperatures, which in the park occurs at about 11,400 feet, or 3,475 meters.

To travel up Trail Ridge Road can be compared to traveling toward the North Pole. For every 1,000 feet gained in elevation the temperature goes down 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Likewise, every 1,000 feet gained in elevation can be compared to driving 600 miles north. As you gain elevation, the ecological communities found in the alpine tundra ecosystem resemble those found as you travel north through Canada and Alaska.

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MAP and TEXT: Travel through Ecosystems along Trail Ridge Road

DESCRIBING: A map of the ecosystems found in Rocky Mountain National Park.

SYNOPSIS: Travel through the ecosystems along Trail Ridge Road

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: This is a rectangular color map that covers the middle portion of Rocky Mountain National Park. This map focuses on Trail Ridge Road, also known as US Highway 34, from the town of Estes Park on the east side of the park to the town of Grand Lake on the west side. A compass is in the bottom right corner, with north pointing to the bottom right of the map.

There is a key located in the very bottom left corner of the map. This key shows the three climate ecosystems in the park. A color scale on the bottom left shows the Alpine ecosystem in white, above 11,400 feet in elevation. Subalpine in light green is 8,000 to 11,400 feet in elevation. Montane in light tan is 9,000 feet and lower in elevation.

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IMAGES: Nature’s Guideposts


DESCRIBING: A small image of an American Pika (Ochotona princeps).

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The pika is a small tailless member of the rabbit family, about 7-8 inches (15-20 cm) in length, has small front and back feet, and round ears. Its light brown fur has black & grey shading on its back. It has little black round eyes, a furry nose on its rounded face, and long black whiskers. The pika has alpine grasses and flowers in its mouth. 

CAPTION: American Pika


Bottom Image: White-tailed Ptarmigan

DESCRIBING: A small image of a White-tailed Ptarmigan (Ochotona princeps).

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A color photo cutout displays a White-Tailed Ptarmigan, a member of the grouse family. This chicken-like bird is a ground dweller approximately 12½ inches long (31.75 cm). Its thick summer plumage is mottled black or brown with white on its belly and underside of the tail. Feathers completely cover its legs and feet for the added warmth in the alpine ecosystem.

CAPTION: White-tailed Ptarmigan


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IMAGES and TEXT: Montane Ecosystem

IMAGE 1 of 2: Aspen and Lodgepole pine

DESCRIBING: A panoramic rectangular color photograph depicts the Montane ecosystem, featuring a meadow with mountain peaks in the distance.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A panoramic rectangular color photograph depicts the Montane ecosystem. The background is comprised of Longs Peak, and other distant, high dramatic mountain peaks with steep, sloping sides of shades of blue with white snowcapped peaks. The sun highlights the peaks and produces shadows across the mountains. In the middle of the photo, the sides of the mountain are darker blue at tree line descending to closer dark green pine trees, whose shapes can now be distinguished individually. In the foreground, a meadow reveals caramel-colored grasses. On the right side, the sun illuminates two beautiful aspen trees revealing gold, orange, and green leaves. There is a stand of 4 lodgepole pine trees on the left side.

CAPTION: Aspen (Populous tremuloides) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta).

CREDIT: Erik Stensland 

IMAGE 2 of 2: Common Sulphur Butterfly pollinates a purple aster

DESCRIBING: A Common Sulphur Butterfly (Colias philodice) is pollinating a purple aster flower.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: This small inset photo depicts a common sulphur butterfly pollinating a purple aster. The butterfly and the flower are about the same size. The aster has a vibrant golden-yellow center with long, narrow purple petals which is illuminated by the sun. The wings of the butterfly are spread wide. The closest outside of the wing is light green on the edge to a slightly darker green in the middle. The inside of the wing is light green on the edge to a light yellow in the middle. There is a small crème uneven spot which is outlined in brown on the upper half of each wing. The head of the butterfly is dark green, with the antennae visible. The butterfly is on the right edge of the flower, with its head resting just above the flower’s bright golden center. There are blurred green grasses in the background.

CAPTION: Common sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice) pollinates a purple aster (Erigeron simplex).


Below 9,000 feet

The montane ecosystem is the park’s gateway whether you enter from Grand Lake, Estes Park, or Wild Basin. On warm, south-facing slopes the ponderosa pines greet you with their sweet fragrance. The open, sunlight-dappled forest of tall trees feeds and shelters the tassel-eared Abert’s squirrel. Some trees reach up to150 feet.

Chokecherry, currant, and juniper bushes sustain many animals, insects, and birds. Beavers and otters work and play in the montane’s streams. Elk, one of the park’s larger mammals, gather here to rut in fall. They eat the aspen trees’ shoots and soft inner bark and leave a calling card of abraded aspen trunks. On cooler, north-facing slopes, forests are dense with Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine.

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IMAGES and TEXT: Subalpine Ecosystem

IMAGE 1 of 2: Elk

DESCRIBING: A large rectangular photo shows three bull elk (Cervus canadensis) standing in a subalpine meadow with Englemann spruce trees in the background.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A large rectangular color photo shows three bull elk in a subalpine meadow. In the right foreground of the photo, the elk stand together facing different directions in a light green-yellow meadow with dark green Engelmann spruce trees behind them. All three elk have magnificent large antlers sporting smaller tines which jut out along each antler. Their bodies are light brown, with the fur transitioning to a darker brown color on their necks, faces and spreading down their legs. Spruce trees are scattered behind the elk, creating a beautiful backdrop.

CAPTION: Elk, or wapiti, graze amid Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii). 


IMAGE 2 of 2: Bighorn Sheep

DESCRIBING: A color inset photograph of two bighorn sheep rams laying on the rocky ground.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: This is a close-up rectangular inset color photograph of two male bighorn sheep, resting near each other, rump to rump on a bright sunny day. Their legs are tucked beneath them on the brown grasses of the grey lichen covered rocks strewn across the slight slope of the alpine tundra in summer. The rams have large horns that curl back behind their ears, then curl down and around in a circular pattern, framing their faces. The horns are dark brown with lighter brown on the inside of the curl. The sheep are medium brown, with white around their nose, the lower front of the jaw, and their rumps. 

CAPTION: The park is home to over 350 bighorn sheep, which were nearly extinct here in the 1950s.


9,000–11,400 feet

Snow that falls in the alpine zone blows down to the subalpine, creating a wet ecosystem with over 30 inches of precipitation each year. Sharp-tipped, pungent Engelmann spruce and flat-needled fir trees prevail, reaching 100 feet. The understory supports shrubs like blueberry, wax currant, huckleberry, and Wood’s rose. Wildflowers like arnica, fairy slipper, twinflower, and purple elephant’s head colonize open meadows.

On the park’s southern edge, the American dipper defies rushing streams to dive for food. Downy and hairy woodpeckers, bold Steller’s jay, and the yellow-rumped warbler share the woods. Look for the pocket gopher and golden-mantled ground squirrel.

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IMAGES and TEXT: Alpine Ecosystem

IMAGE 1 of 3: Hiking Flattop Mountain

DESCRIBING: A color photo collage of the alpine ecosystem

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: This is a rectangular color photo showing five hikers on an alpine mountain trail above treeline, looking down into and far across a mountain valley. The valley is steep, with dramatic rough grey mountains of the Continental Divide rising up in the distance. There are dark green trees scattered across the valley below, and large tan boulders in the foreground on the bottom right. There is some light green lichen on a few of the boulders in the foreground.

The day is bright and sunny, and the five hikers are wearing summer hiking clothing, backpacks, and using trekking poles as they head up the alpine trail. 

CAPTION: Hiking Flattop Mountain


IMAGE 2 of 3: Yellow-bellied Marmot 

DESCRIBING: Bottom left color photo showing a Yellow-bellied Marmot

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION:  A Yellow-bellied Marmot peers over gray and white colored rocks on the alpine tundra. This member of the squirrel family has shaggy yellowish-brown fur over its body, short legs, and can grow up to 28 inches (71 cm) long. Its face is darker brown and has a white muzzle around its brown nose and mouth. Whitish spots form an irregular line above its nose, between its dark brown eyes. Small rounded ears top either side of its head which is slightly tilted to its right. 

CAPTION: Yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris)


IMAGE 3 of 3: Five-petaled Avens

DESCRIBING: A cutout color photo of a single Alpine Aven

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A single Alpine Aven flower is highlighted without a stem or leaves. This common alpine tundra flower has five bright yellow petals. All petals are the same size and united in the center. The outer edges are slightly ruffled. Many stamens are clustered in the center of the flower.

CAPTION: Five-petaled avens (Geum rossii ssp turbinata) hug the tundra


RELATED TEXT: Alpine - Above 11,400 feet

Extremely thin soil, strong ultraviolet light, drying winds, and bitter cold define life on the tundra. Many plants hug the ground in dense mats, preserve moisture with waxen leaf surfaces, or trap warmth against stems and leaves with hairs.

Animals also must adapt or die. Marmots store fat, then draw upon their reserves as they hibernate. Bighorn sheep graze here in summer but migrate in fall to lower elevations like many other species in the park. The resilient white-tailed ptarmigan is an exception. This bird stays all winter in the alpine zone, warmed by feathered eyelids, nostrils, legs, and feet.

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IMAGES and TEXT: Legacy of Stewardship

IMAGE 1 of 2: Dedication Ceremony, September 4, 1915

DESCRIBING: Rocky Mountain National Park's dedication ceremony in 1915.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A small historic sepia photograph framed in white features the dedication ceremony for Rocky Mountain National Park on September 4, 1915. A large crowd seen from the back are wearing 1900's era clothing. They are gathered in a meadow, with pine trees and mountain hillsides in the background.

A prominent white banner with faded text in large, dark lettering that says “Rocky Mountain National Park Dedication" is suspended above the crowd in the distance.

 CAPTION: September 4, 1915


IMAGE 2 of 2: Telescope

DESCRIBING: Color photograph of visitors using a telescope during an evening program.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The picture shows two people using a telescope outdoors on a cool evening. Starting at the right, there is a park volunteer wearing a brown cap and coat, and blue jeans. She is standing next to and helping a visitor who is bending over, looking in a narrow black eyepiece on the right side of the telescope. The visitor is bundled up in a light brown blanket and is wearing a grey hood, face unseen. 

To the left, a long, shiny metallic telescope is aimed away from the camera and is level with the ground. The inside of the back end of the telescope is visible in the foreground, revealing the mirror mechanism inside.  

 CAPTION: Volunteer assists a visitor with telescope


RELATED TEXT: Legacy of Stewardship

Rocky Mountain National Park acknowledges, with respect, Native people have been successful stewards of this land since time immemorial. We understand that the park is located within the ancestral and traditional homeland of the Ute, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. Many other Tribes used this land including the Comanche, Shoshone, and Lakota/ Dakota. The park continues to work with Tribes today.

Indigenous people lived on this land for centuries until they were forcibly removed by the US government in the 1800s. Settlers, miners, and ranchers moved in. As more people used the land for a variety of purposes, people began to recognize the need for preservation.

Many passionate advocates for a park emerged, including naturalist and guide Enos Mills (1870–1922). He led the push for a wilderness park. Mining, grazing, and logging interests lobbied for a national forest where commercial activities could continue. In 1915 Congress designated Rocky Mountain National Park.

Influential Estes Park resident Mary King Sherman (1862–1935) also campaigned hard to establish the park. She promoted outdoor education, citing better health and an increased sense of civic duty as benefits. Her ideas are cornerstones of National Park Service programs today.

Long before anyone envisioned a Rocky Mountain National Park, Isabella Bird (1831–1904) published A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. Her book paved the way for preservation by helping make others aware of the region’s rugged beauty and “unprofaned freshness.”

In 1873 a fur trapper called Mountain Jim helped Isabella Bird climb Longs Peak. He was one among many who traveled to the Rocky Mountains in search of natural beauty or bounty.

Ancestral people relied on traditional knowledge to navigate the landscape as they followed migrating animals and seasonal plant growth. They left behind tools, pottery, rock structures, and trail corridors. The Ute Trail and what is now known as Trail Ridge Road represent early evidence of human travel over the mountains—the start of a continuum of human visitation that continues today. Native people continue to care for this land and are working to ensure the younger generation maintains the connection to their homeland. These mountains remain their homeland and continue to be a sacred place to visit.

Over four million people now pour into the park every year, with the majority visiting between May and October. Nearby urban areas affect how the park is managed. Decades of fire suppression created dense undergrowth, which only increased the threat to surrounding communities and caused changes in forest composition. Over 100 invasive plant species now mingle with native species.

To better understand these and other challenges, the park has set aside areas for science and research. It is also home to the Continental Divide Research Learning Center, where education and research programs focus on park resources.

As Rocky Mountain National Park moves into its second century, it will continue to preserve natural systems and cultural stories for future generations. What role can you play in the park’s next 100 years?

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IMAGE and TEXT: Rocky Mountain Conservancy

DESCRIBING: Image 1 of 2: Color logo for Rocky Mountain Conservancy

SYNOPSIS:  Rocky Mountain Conservancy color logo. 

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The Rocky Mountain Conservancy color logo is featured on the bottom right side on the front side of the brochure. This logo features a maroon silhouette of a stylized bighorn sheep ram standing in profile on top of a rock. A blue-grey illustration of Longs Peak provides the backdrop the ram. Dark text to the right reads "Rocky Mountain Conservancy".

RELATED TEXT: The Rocky Mountain Conservancy

The Rocky Mountain Conservancy promotes stewardship of Rocky Mountain National Park by funding publications such as this one, educational programs, and philanthropy.

Image 2 of 2: National Park Foundation

DESCRIBING: Image 2 of 2: National Park Foundation Logo

SYNOPSIS: Black logo for the National Park Foundation

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The National Park Foundation logo is featured at the top of the back side of the brochure in small print. The arrowhead is white, framed in a black square box with black text to the right that reads "National Park Foundation." 

RELATED TEXT: National Park Foundation

Join the park community. 

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OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure

The back side of the brochure features text, photographs, and maps that help orient visitors to the park. 

At the top of the page there is a thick black bar that stretches across the width of the page. Inside the bar, white text reads "Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park." The text, photographs, and maps located below are described in detail within their own separate sections.

The majority of the page is filled with the large map of Rocky Mountain National Park, including the legend. A detailed description of the map is listed below. 

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IMAGE and TEXT: Lightning

DESCRIBING: A vertical color photograph of a lightning strike in the mountains.

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: A close-up view of mountain ridges, partially covered by pine trees and granite rocks. In the distance, angry storm clouds cover a darkening, purple sky as lightning strikes the mountains.

CAPTION: Lightning can kill. Hike early and watch the sky—thunderstorms are more common in the afternoon.



Avoid lightning. Begin your hike early in the day. Get below treeline or to a shelter by afternoon, when thunderstorms begin. If caught above treeline in a storm, run from summits and isolated trees and rocks. Avoid small cave entrances and overhangs. Crouch down on your heels. • Many park visitors experience altitude sickness. Consult your doctor if you have a respiratory or heart condition. • The park’s swift-running streams, waterfalls, falling trees, and sudden weather changes present many natural hazards. • While driving, stay alert for wildlife crossing the roads.

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OVERVIEW: Safety and More Information

Park Information

Check your free park visitor guide for current information about visitor centers, ranger-led activities, hiking, wildlife, shuttle buses, and more.


Avoid lightning. Begin your hike early in the day. Get below treeline or to a shelter by afternoon, when thunderstorms begin. If caught above treeline in a storm, run from summits and isolated trees and rocks. Avoid small cave entrances and overhangs. Crouch down on your heels. • Many park visitors experience altitude sickness. Consult your doctor if you have a respiratory or heart condition. • The park’s swift-running streams, waterfalls, falling trees, and sudden weather changes present many natural hazards. • While driving, stay alert for wildlife crossing the roads.


Pets are prohibited on ALL Rocky Mountain National Park trails, tundra, and meadows. Do not leave pets unattended in vehicles. Where allowed, pets must be kept on a six-foot leash.

Hunting, Fishing, and Firearms

Hunting is prohibited in the park. A Colorado fishing required. • For firearms regulations check the park website.


Abide by park regulations and restrictions, available at visitor centers and entrances. • Camp only in designated campgrounds. Wilderness camping requires a permit. 

• Do not leave property unattended for more than 24 hours without prior permission. 

• All vehicles, including bicycles, must stay on roads or in parking areas. Stopping or parking on roads is prohibited. Overnight parking requires a permit. 

• Federal laws protect all natural and cultural features in the park. 

• Do not feed, approach, or try to touch wildlife. 

• Leave wildflowers and other plants for others to enjoy. 

• It is illegal to have open alcoholic beverage containers in vehicles on park roads. 

• Possession of any federally scheduled drug is prohibited in the park.

Tundra Closures

The alpine ecosystem is fragile. Stay on the trail in tundra closure areas along Trail Ridge Road (highlighted on map).

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OVERVIEW: Contact Us

Contact Us:

For more information on Rocky Mountain National Park, go to a visitor center, ask a ranger, call, or check the park website.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. Learn about national parks at

Park Address:

Rocky Mountain National Park

1000 Hwy. 36

Estes Park, CO 80517-8397

970-586-1206; TTY 970-586-1319

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and X Twitter. Use the official NPS App to guide your visit; select “save this park” to use offline.

For Trail Ridge Road status, call 970-586-1222

Emergencies: Call 911

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MAP and TEXT: Preserving Wilderness

DESCRIBING: Wilderness in Rocky Mountain National Park

SYNOPSIS: This map displays the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park and indicates designated wilderness.  

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: This map displays the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park in emerald green. A key below indicates designated wilderness in light green while non-wilderness is white. The park appears approximately twice as long as it is wide and follows many natural features with its jagged and curved edges. The map is predominantly in green denoting the park is 95% wilderness. Non-wilderness is primarily along roads and other developed areas. 

RELATED TEXT: Preserving Wilderness

In 2009 Congress protected most of Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act. Wilderness is a gift to people today and to future generations. The designation protects forever the land’s wild character, natural conditions, opportunities for solitude, and scientific, educational, and historical values. In wilderness people can sense being a part of the whole community of life on Earth.

NOTE:  Logo for National Park Foundation

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MAP OVERVIEW: Description of the Map of Rocky Mountain National Park

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: Located in northern Colorado, approximately two hours from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is 415 square miles and about twice as long as it is wide with jagged boundary lines that follow many natural features, including mountain ridgelines and rivers.

Major entrances to the park are located on the east and west sides. On the east side near the town of Estes Park, access the Beaver Meadows Entrance via U.S. Highway 36 and the Fall River Entrance via U.S. Highway 34. 

On the west side near the town of Grand Lake, access the Grand Lake Entrance via U.S. Highway 34. 

Trail Ridge Road, which is U.S. Highway 34, crosses the park and connects these two communities. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in North America. The middle portion of this highway crosses alpine tundra and the Continental Divide. 30 percent of the park is above treeline. Due to high elevations and harsh winter conditions, approximately 30 miles of the road is closed seasonally, typically from mid-October to late May. 

The map of Rocky Mountain National Park includes all major natural features and roads, visitor centers, restrooms, picnic areas, campgrounds and more. It also includes roads and several communities located outside the park boundary. 

Rocky Mountain National Park is bordered on all sides by the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. The headwaters for many rivers also begin in Rocky Mountain National Park, including the Colorado River which flows to the west and the Cache La Poudre River which flows to the east.

One of the most popular areas to explore is Bear Lake Road. The turn for Bear Lake Road is located immediately west of Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on U.S. Highway 36. This paved road is approximately 9.2 miles long and dead ends at Bear Lake Parking Area. Along the way, are campgrounds, picnic areas, Moraine Park Discovery Center, Park & Ride Parking Area and access to shuttles. Many popular trailheads are located along this road.  

U.S. Highways 36 and 34 merge at Deer Ridge Junction. U.S. Highway 34 also continues west as Trail Ridge Road.

At the center top of Trail Ridge Road is Alpine Visitor Center. At an elevation of 11,796 feet or 3,595 meters, this is the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park Service.

Follow the upside-down U west. Milner Pass, on the Continental Divide, is located at approximately 11 o'clock. This marks where headwaters drain either west toward the Pacific Ocean or east toward the Atlantic Ocean. Following Trail Ridge Road southwest, the Holzwarth Historic Site is located at 9 o'clock.

Continuing south on Trail Ridge Road to the park's Grand Lake Entrance Station and the Kawuneeche Visitor Center. Once you exit the park's western boundary, Trail Ridge Road becomes U.S. Highway 34. 

Follow U.S. Highway 34 south to the small gateway community of Grand Lake. From there to the south are Grand Lake and the Arapaho National Recreation Area, which include Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby. 

The legend for this map is located at the bottom of the back page of the park's brochure. A section below will describe the legend in detail.

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Map Legend

IMAGE: Legend of Park Map

SYNOPSIS: Legend of the Rocky Mountain National Park Map

IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION: The legend of the map is indicated as follows:

- A tundra closure area is highlighted in orange

Distances are noted between two arrows in red print

- Overlooks are a black dot on a red line indicating the location on a road

Unpaved roads are a solid white thick line outlined in grey

Hiking Trails are indicated with long, grey dashes

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail has long, grey dashes highlighted yellow

A series of grey dots mark the Continental Divide

All of the following icons are inside a black square:

Ranger stations shaped as a white house, black door and white flag.

Campgrounds are a white triangle with smaller black triangle.

Picnic areas are a white outline of a picnic table seen from the side.

Boat launches are a white boat on a ramp.

Stables are a white horse underneath a sloped roof.

Wheelchair-accessible areas are a side view of a white figure in a wheelchair.

Self-guiding nature trail is an outline of a person with a backpack in front of a sign, with white dots and an arrow encircling the right side of the sign.

Restrooms are marked by a white figure dressed in a skirt, a white dividing line, and a white figure dressed in pants.

A telephone has a white phone receiver.

A blue square with a white phone receiver indicates an emergency telephone.

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