Getting Around Rocky Mountain National Park
The best way to get around Rocky Mountain National Park is by car. Having your own wheels gives you the most freedom to come and go as you please. Still, the park's free shuttle is a good option too, as it runs routes to many – but not all – of the park's most popular trails and attractions during the summertime high season.
To reach Rocky Mountain National Park, many travelers fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) and either rent a car and drive the 80-some miles northwest to Estes Park or take the Estes Park Shuttle, which runs frequent routes from the airport to Estes Park for $45 one-way and $85 round-trip. There is no public transportation available between the airport and the park.
Even if you're visiting in the summer when free shuttles are making regular loops through the national park and Estes Park, you'll still likely need a car to reach the parking lots for the shuttles and to take the storied drive across Trail Ridge Road. Plus, you'll definitely need a car from October to early May when the shuttle isn't operating, but be careful because this region of Colorado is prone to heavy snowfalls and the accompanying slick roads. You can rent cars from a handful of companies, including Enterprise and Hertz, at both Denver International Airport and in Estes Park. A one-day entrance pass will cost $20 per vehicle, while a seven-day entrance pass will cost $30 per vehicle. For the most up-to-date information on road closures, visit the NPS website.
The National Park Service encourages visitors to rely on the park's free shuttles, which run from late May to October (depending on the route) from about 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Not only does it cut down on emissions, but it also saves visitors the hassle of dealing with traffic and parking. There are three NPS shuttle routes: the Hiker Express, Bear Lake and Moraine Park.
In addition, an Estes Park free shuttle connects with the Hiker Express, making it easy for visitors to get from their hotels in Estes Park to RMNP. The best way to catch the Estes Park shuttle is by parking at the Park & Ride stop, located at 1209 Manford Ave. Still, the shuttle does have its limitations: For instance, it doesn't take hikers to the western side of the park, and it doesn't travel across Trail Ridge Road. If you're entering the park on a shuttle, the entrance fee is $10 per person for one day and $15 per person for a seven-day pass.
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