Renting an RV from Cruise America allowed us to comfortably tour the National Parks of Colorado including Rocky Mountain National Park. You can read our full review of Cruise America rental RVs here. You can also view our entire 3,200 mile Summer road trip itinerary to Colorado and Utah by clicking here. However, I know that a lot of our readers have their own campers and RV’s that they can take wherever they like with no time limit. If this is the case for you then there are a few things that you should make sure you do before you head off. We don’t need to worry about checking our RV because the rental place does that for us. However, you won’t have that luxury so make sure you give your RV a once over to check for any repairs that need doing. If you see some, take it to an RV Repair shop and you’ll be good to go!
After switching out our broken Cruise America RV in Denver, we were finally on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park. By this time it was already late evening so we headed to the Estes Park KOA where we were camping for the night. Having lost almost two days in dealing with repairing the first RV then switching out to the second one, we had limited time for the park. Luckily we have been there a couple of times before but having only one day for this beautiful National Park is not enough!
Dave’s best friend from high school and his family lives in Fort Collins and our original plans had us meeting them in Estes Park where we would sleep for a couple of nights while exploring nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. By the time we made it though, it was already dinner time on the second night of our planned visit. Bummer. We had all been looking forward to hanging out with them! After checking in to the KOA, we parked our big rig in our assigned spot and finally met up with our friends. All of our kids mingled and played with theirs while we figured out what we should do for dinner. After all the excitement from the RV breakdown and transfer, I was too frazzled to even think of cooking so we decided to take a stroll into Estes Park to find a place to eat. Just a short walk from the campground we found a great Mexican restaurant, The Grumpy Gringo and we all enjoyed our food. After the crazy day, I especially enjoyed the Grand Margarita! We spent a few hours visiting and by the end of our meal I was much more relaxed. Our friends had to drive back home after dinner to get back for work the next day so we sadly said our goodbyes after walking back to the campground. Filled with good food and tired from the long day we all slept well in the RV.
Waking up early the next day we drove the 7 miles to the park entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Because we had already purchased an America the Beautiful National Park Pass, we did not need to pay the $20 entrance fee. At $80, we but one every year and it definitely pays for itself! Our first stop was the Fall River Visitor Center to get advice from the park rangers about our visit. Rocky Mountain National Park is a beautiful park and with only one day to explore we needed their input on what we should do! They advised us to take the Trail Ridge Road Scenic Drive and stop at the various sights to take short walks along the way. The kids also picked up their Junior Ranger booklets as we set off.
We spent a full day taking the scenic drive and spending time at each stop to look around and take the short trails. It was difficult at times to find a parking spot for the RV which is a definite drawback to traveling this way. Rocky Mountain is a crowded park in the summer and driving around in an RV made it impossible to avoid the crowds but we still enjoyed ourselves at the various stops. As we climbed the ridge road, the views were incredible!
We especially enjoyed the short Tundra Communities Trail as not only were the views beautiful, we got to see a large community of marmots which might be one of the cutest animals around. We spend a long time watching them play and listening to them chirp to each other. By the time we were ready to leave, we could see large clouds moving into the area and it was amazing to watch them gathering above and around us as high in elevation as we were.
At the highest parts of the drive it was windy and chilly! We definitely needed jackets as we hiked the short trails. After the kids received their Junior Ranger badges at the Alpine Visitor Center we headed back down the drive and exited the park. It had been a wonderful day in a beautiful National Park! We can’t wait to go back and explore and perhaps take a long backpacking trip into the mountains.
Have you visited Rocky Mountain National Park? If so, I hope you had more than one day!