1. Do You Need Hookups?
If you’re hoping to find electric, water or sewer hookups, you won’t find them camping in the park. While four of the park’s five campgrounds allow RVs, none of them have hookups. If you’re looking for power, water and sewer, check out these RV parks in gateway towns near the entrances:
On the east side of the park, Estes Park is located 3.5 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park’s eastern entrance, Beaver Meadows. Paradise on the River, located just one mile from downtown Estes, offers full hookups, free wifi and cable and shower and laundry facilities.
On the west side: the charming mountain town of Grand Lake is located two miles from the west entrance to the park. Stay at Elk Creek Campground (www.elkcreekcamp.com) or the new River Run RV Resort to get access to full hook-ups. Elk Creek also offers a mobile dumping service on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for $15, or for free if you stay five or more nights.
2. Life Unplugged
If you don’t need hookups, Rocky Mountain National Park offers several options for RV campers. Moraine Park, Aspenglen and Glacier Basin campgrounds, located on the park’s eastern side, require advance reservations. Moraine Park allows the biggest RVs in the park, with a 40-foot maximum, and Aspenglen allows RVs of up to 30 feet. Glacier Basin also allows RVs with a 35-foot maximum, but in recent years pine beetles have severely impacted the area, leaving fewer trees standing.
Timber Creek is the only campground on the park’s west side. It allows RVs of up to 30 feet. This is the only first come, first served camping area in the park that allows RVs, so plan to arrive early to give yourself the best chance of finding a site, especially in the summer months.
3. Be Prepared for Alpine Driving
Rocky Mountain National Park’s beautiful mountain roads are iconic, but they don’t come without their challenges – the park has the highest paved road of any national park in the country, topping out at 12,183 feet. It’s Trail Ridge Road, and it stretches from one side of the park to the other, bringing you from Estes Park to Grand Lake or vice versus during the course of 48 miles. Despite the 4,000-foot climb to the summit, this two-lane road is fine for RV travel.
RVs are allowed on all roads in the park, with the exception of Old Fall River Road where vehicles over 25 feet and those pulling trailers are prohibited. Many roads in the park are steep and winding, some without shoulders or guardrails. Be prepared for strong winds and rapid weather changes. Be courteous to other drivers and use pull-outs to let faster cars pass.
4. Skip the Drive
If alpine driving isn’t your cup of tea, or if it’s a busy summer weekend when large RV parking spaces at trailheads are limited, skip the drive and ride aboard a shuttle along one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s three free shuttle routes. Park in Estes Park and ride into the park on the Hiker Shuttle Express Route, or park at one of the larger, lower elevation lots and take the shuttle to some of the parks most beautiful trailheads such as Fern Lake, Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake. View the routes and schedules at www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/shuttle_bus_route.htm.
5. Pet Tips
As with most national parks, what you can do with your pet in Rocky Mountain is fairly limited. Pets are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas and parking areas on a six-foot leash. They are not allowed on any trails. Please do not leave your pet in your RV unless you have your generator and air-conditioning running! Internal temperatures in vehicles can quickly turn extreme, even when outdoor temperatures don’t feel that hot. Estes Park has a great dog park with a dog beach, so that your furry friend can enjoy their national park vacation as well