Free things to do at Rocky Mountain National Park? Yes, please!

I’ve been to Rocky Mountain National Parks numerous times in my life, most recently this May, and three times in the last three years. It’s one of my absolute favorite places in the country.

And I discovered something new in my planning this time. There are parts of the park that are outside the entrance gates … meaning you can explore them without spending money.

Gem Lake, located on the northeast edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, is a breathtaking site with free trail access.

Did everyone already know this? Maybe I’m just late to the party.

Anyway … Free? Yay!

Let me interject here that I still highly recommend going into the park and paying the admission (national parks also offer senior, military and yearly discounts). There is so much to do and see and LOVE!

But I understand some families are on a tight budget when traveling and this might be a good option for them to still experience part of the park.

"Free things to do at Rocky Mountain National Park? Yes, please!" Family. Road trip. Summer. Adventure. Travel.
Grand Lake

On our trip this time, we started on the west side near Grand Lake to check out Adams Falls.

To see the falls, it’s just a .3-mile hike from the parking lot along a marked trail that winds up and around through rocks and a lush, beautiful forest. Since we were there in late May, the falls were rushing with mountain snowmelt. And don’t let the dim pictures fool you. It might have been cloudy day (we experienced rain, sleet, hail, thunder, lightning and even snow as we traveled through the park), but it was still amazing.

Another free trail, Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, is on the northeast edge of the park and is located on the outskirts of Estes Park. This trail leads to the Twin Owls rock formations, on to Gem Lake and even to Bridal Veil Falls, if you’re up for the adventure.

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A few others we’ve added to future visits include North Inlet Trail to Cascade Falls on the west side and Longs Peak Trailhead and Lily Lake on the east side.

Happy exploring!

To see more about these and others, visit the RMNP website.



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