Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park

I’ve gathered some of my favorite pictures taken during the beautiful autumn months in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fall is one of the best times to visit Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park to witness the golden aspens, enjoy the crisp-cool weather, and experience the elk rut.

Fall Festivals

The city of Estes Park has events taking place throughout the fall including the Elk Fest and the Pumpkins & Pilsners Festival. (more)

Haunted tours

The Halloween season is the perfect time to visit one of Estes Park’s most famous landmarks, the historic Stanley Hotel. The hotel offers a variety of tours, including a guided night tour where you can explore the setting that inspired Steven King’s book, The Shining. (kids must be 8+)

Crowds in Rocky mountain National park

I’m not alone in my love for fall in Rocky Mountain National Park. I recently saw a statistic from the National Park Service that said 7 of the top 10 busiest days last year occurred on September weekends.

Fall weather and road conditions

Going back through our fall pictures, I remembered that we have seen quite a lot of snow even in early October. The contrast of the bright yellow aspens with the pure white snow is striking, but snow can affect road conditions. If you are planning to drive up Trail Ridge Road, you can find information on road conditions and closures here.

Aspen lined tree leading to Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park
Trail leading to Alberta Falls
October snow - walking along Estes Park Riverwalk
October snow – walking along Estes Park Riverwalk
Golden aspens in Rocky Mountain National Park
Golden aspens
Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park looking towards Hallett Peak
Views looking towards Hallett Peak
Elk in Estes Park, Colorado
Elk in downtown Estes Park
Elk Rut season in Rocky Mountain National Park
Elk Rut Season
Fall Hike to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Hike to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
View of Longs Peak on a crisp October morning
View of Longs Peak
Autumn views in Rocky Mountain National Park
Autumn views in Rocky Mountain National Park
Sprague Lake
Sprague Lake
Sunrise from Mary's Lake resort in Estes Park, CO
Autumn sunrise from Mary’s Lake resort in Estes Park, CO
Historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

Get the Most out of Your Rocky Mountain Vacation by Avoiding Crowds, Bugs and Carsick Kiddos

If you are planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this summer, you are going to create wonderful family memories. Our whole website is dedicated to how amazing we think Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are.  However, it’s also helpful to know the less than spectacular parts of a destination that might come up so you can plan ahead.

#1: Crowds 

Tourists come when it’s most convenient – on holidays and weekends. During these busy times, we have to wake up super early to get our bags packed and the kiddos fed so we can get into the park before 7AM. That sounds terrible, but it’s worth it, especially if we are trying to find a parking space near some of the most popular destinations like Bear Lake and Alberta Falls.

How to avoid the crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • hike in less popular destinations such as the Wild Basin or this trail less traveled.
  • go early in the morning
  • hike on week days
  • pre-purchase your park pass online
  • help lines run faster by asking questions at the visitors centers instead of the park entrances
  • ride the free park shuttles

#2 Mosquitoes

During summer months, mosquitoes are common on hikes around lakes and rivers. If you have babies or are breast-feeding, don’t forget to pack sprays without DEET like this one.

#3: Carsick Kiddos

Winding mountain roads sometimes make our toddler car sick. Here are some ideas on how to avoid carsickness and make cleanup easier if it happens.

Mountain Carsick Kit:

  • bucket
  • towels
  • Clorox wipes
  • trash bags
  • bottle of water
  • change of clothes for everyone
  • pretzels/saltines/ginger snacks