Forget having to hike miles into the backcountry to experience the sight of open tundra, alpine vistas, and towering peaks. Several roads in Rocky Mountain National Park serve up wide-open tundra. Our favorite, Trail Ridge Road, has three must-see turnouts. (In order from east to west.)
Note: Trail Ridge Road is only open during the summer and fall season.
1. Many Parks Curve
The first true hairpin curve along Trail Ridge Road, this overlook attracts visitors’ year around. (Note: the road typically is closed just west of here during winter months.) From the overlook, peer northeast out across the Mummy Range and Alluvial Fan caused by the 1982 and 2013 floods. Turning clockwise the view includes Bighorn Mountain (11,465 ft.), and Horseshoe Park far below to the east.
2. Forest Canyon Overlook
A short easy walk from the turnout, Forest Canyon Overlook is one of the Park’s best. Peering down into Forest Canyon nearly 2,000-feet below, it’s not hard to see why no official trails enter the canyon. The canyon is one of the wildest places inside the Park and was formed by The Big Thompson River and a massive glacier millions of years ago. On a clear day make sure to check out Longs Peak (14,259 ft.) looming off to the southeast. Other peaks include Stones Peak (12,922 ft.) and Terra Tomah Mountain (12,718 ft.).
3. Fairview Curve
Simply breathtaking, Fairview Curve sits nearly 1,000 feet above the Kawuneeche Valley. Drink in front row views of the Never Summer Mountains and watch the Colorado River start it’s journey towards the mighty pacific. During fall this is one of the best overlooks in the entire park. Quacking aspens fill the Kawuneeche Valley each fall giving it the appearance of being on fire. If you’re there during that time of year make sure not to miss this place.