Rocky Mountain National Park in 4 Hours or Less from the Grand Lake Entrance Station

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park has so much to offer visitors from animal sightings, hiking trails, and pretty drives. Four hours just isn’t enough time to do the park justice but if you only have a few hours and you still want to see Rocky Mountain National Park, it is doable.

Start your morning early and try to be at the entrance by 7 or 8am. We were staying the night at the Winter Park Resort so we chose to enter through the Grand Lake entrance. It took us about 50 minutes from Winter Park and would have taken us a little over 2 hours from our home in Denver. There is a visitor’s center just outside the entrance where you can stop for information. We chose to skip this visitor’s center because we were headed to the Alpine Visitor Center off of Trail Ridge Road.

moose at RMNP
Planning an early morning will increase your chances to see some wildlife looking for their breakfast. We weren’t in the park for five minutes before we spotted a moose in a meadow. There were actually three. We saw two males and one female with a baby! We were too far away to make out any features on the baby moose but we were able to see it bound around in the grass while the mama moose tried to get her breakfast.

RMNP
After watching the moose, we continued on along the Trail Ridge Road. We stopped at a couple of pull offs. Each pull off had a couple of park rangers or volunteers to answer questions. We stopped to take in views and to stand at the Continental Divide.

Alpine Visitor Center
Once we reached the Alpine Visitor Center, we parked and explored the visitor center and spoke with rangers. There are restrooms here as well as a shop and a small cafeteria. There is a short trail up many stairs but the views make the walk up worth it. When you visit, stop at the shop and pick up some Huckleberry Gummi Bears. They were a hit with my kids who needed a snack.

alpine visitor center
From here, we headed back down to Winter Park. On the way back, we spotted a herd of deer and several elk sunning themselves. The entire round trip took about four hours. We will definitely be going back to spend some more time but I am glad that we got a little taste of what Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer.

alpine visitor center
Tips for spotting wildlife:

Don’t speed through the park. The speed limits are there for a reason and if you are going too fast, you will miss the beauty surrounding you.

Look for other cars that are stopped. You will want to keep an eye out for stopped cars because they don’t always pull off of the road but also because this is usually a sign that there is wildlife (or something to see) nearby.

Look up! We caught three elk sunning themselves up on a hill. We would have driven right past them had we not been looking all over.