6 RV Tips for Rocky Mountain National Park

Make the most of your RV trip to Colorado's most popular national park with these tips.

Photo: Depositphotos

Explore the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park in your home on wheels with these 5 tips to help you choose where to camp, how to prepare and what to do with your pets.

1. Be Aware of Summertime Entrance Reservations

To keep visitors safe and better manage the park during the global pandemic, Rocky Mountain National Park has instituted a day-use reservation system for summer 2022. If you have a camping reservation, you do not need the day-use reservation. You may also enter the park outside of peak hours without a day-use reservation.

2. Do You Need Hookups for your RV?

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 and a dump station.

3. RV 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. Moraine Park Campground contains single family tent-only sites, walk-to tent sites and RV sites without hookups. There is no group camping at Moraine Park Campground. Aspenglen allows RVs of up to 30 feet. All campsites will be reservable, some six months in advance, some two weeks in advance and some four days in advance.

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. All campsites will be reservable, some six months in advance, some two weeks in advance and some four days in advance. At Glacier Basin, you’re allowed one RV or one RV plus one towed vehicle or one trailer plus one vehicle, and/or two tents are allowed per standard nonelectric site. Group loop sites 1 through 13 at Glacier Basin Campground are tent only.

Timber Creek is the only campground on the park’s west side. It also requires advanced reservations. It allows RVs of up to 30 feet. Vehicles over 30 feet are not allowed.

4. Be Prepared for Alpine Driving in your RV

Car lights illuminate Trail Ridge Road at night in Rocky Mountain National Park
Car lights illuminate Trail Ridge Road at night.Grant Ordelheide

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.

5. 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.

6. 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