Rocky Mountain National Park is wonderful to explore by hiking but we want to make sure you make it back to your Estes Park cabin safely! We’ve outlined some of our top hiking safety tips and hiking etiquette reminders before you hit the trail.
Check the trail and weather conditions on the day of your hike to ensure there are no closures or impacted trails. Keep a close eye on the weather too, especially in the higher elevations, as storms or bad weather can roll in unexpectedly and quickly in the afternoon.
If you’re a beginner hiker, try to start out in the morning so you’ll have plenty of time to make your way below treeline and back to the trailhead.
Wear sturdy boots that support your ankles and provide traction. For your clothing, invest in sweat-wicking materials and try to avoid cotton. Layers are key! Make sure you have lots of warm options for cooler temps at the summit or your hiking destination. It’s also good to have rain gear or a wind-resistant jacket on hand for your hike, no matter the season. A good rule of thumb is to prepare to spend the night in the elements, just in case.
You’ll also want to put on plenty of sunscreen and wear sunglasses on your hike. You may want a cap or hat for additional sun protection as you head up into higher elevations.
For steep trails, you may want to bring a hiking stick or poles to take some of the weight off your legs as you make your way up and back down the trail.
Stay hydrated out on the trails! Pack a backpack with first aid supplies, snacks, extra layers, and a lot of water or sports drinks if you want a bit more flavor. Being hydrated can also reduce the effects of altitude sickness.
Stay on the trail and keep your eyes and ears open for signs of wildlife or changing weather. Rocky Mountain National Park prohibits visitors from approaching wildlife and you must keep a distance of 25 yards between yourself and the animal. In fact, harassing or even feeding the park’s wildlife is illegal. Though your intentions may be good, feeding the wildlife will have adverse effects on the population and their natural behaviors and could lead to disease and/or the animal being put down.
If possible, try to hike in pairs or in a smaller group and choose a trail that meets the ability level of all in your party. You’ll want to pace your group hike on the slowest person in it to avoid injury or fatigue.
If you are going hiking alone, be sure to let someone know where you’ll be hiking, at what time, and when you think you’ll be back. In case of an emergency or when you haven’t checked in with them, someone outside the park can alert the right people that you may be in danger or lost.
We know the gorgeous views are waiting at the end of your hike and that you’ll be excited to get there but you’ll want to make sure you pace yourself appropriately so you’ll be able to hike the trail back out to your vehicle! Stop and stay a while at the end of your hike to have some water and a few energizing snacks, like nuts, fruit, energy or protein bars, or beef jerky.
By following these safe hiking tips, you’ll be able to have a great time exploring the variety of trails in Rocky Mountain National Park or surrounding Estes Park! After you’ve selected a few trails you want to add to your hiking plans, be sure to select the perfect cabin or condo to return to after your hike.