Rocky Mountain National Park Area Map
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to herds of elk and bighorn sheep, but it also has a population of mountain lions and black bears. Although attacks are very rare, the National Park Service recommends visitors hike in groups since these animals are less likely to grow aggressive when faced with multiple people. Campers should also stow all food in food lockers if available or in airtight, bear-resistant containers. Ticks also pose a risk, and since these can be carriers for disease, it's important to do nightly tick checks after a day on the trails.
Rising from 7,800 feet to 12,000 – even 14,000 feet in some places – RMNP is a high-elevation park and if you don't give yourself time to adjust to the thinner atmosphere and lower oxygen levels, you could run the risk of getting the headaches, nausea and disorientation characteristic of altitude sickness. Along with taking a day or so to acclimate to the high altitude, you should make sure to consume plenty of water and food to ward off symptoms.
The weather in RMNP is highly variable. To avoid being caught off-guard, pay attention to the weather report (especially afternoon thunderstorms in the summer or heavy snow during the winter). The NPS also warns that wintertime visitors planning on cross-country skiing should be aware of the risks of avalanches, and should consider completing an avalanche training from places like the Colorado Avalanche Information Center before hitting the trails. For more safety tips, consult the NPS website.
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