Shared experiences are one of the building blocks of a successful family vacation, and there are many opportunities for such moments while in Rocky Mountain National Park with your kids. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Help your child earn a Junior Ranger badge through the Junior Ranger Program. Activity booklets can be picked up at any visitor center, and ranger-led Junior Ranger programs are held every day late June-late August at the Junior Ranger Headquarters at Hidden Valley.
- On a hot summer day, cool off your toes and make new friends at the Alluvial Fan. Mellow pools of water near the bottom of the fan—plus plenty of rocks to climb on—equals fun for kids. (Entering rushing water is a serious safety risk and much of the Alluvial Fan fits that description; look for gentle waters only and supervise children at all times.)
- Take an outing to Bear Lake, Adams Falls, or Sprague Lake. If you are visiting with babies or toddlers, don a carrier backpack and narrate the scenery as you go.
- Step back in time at the Holzwarth Historic Site and view artifacts from an old dude ranch. Bring marshmallows to roast for ranger-led evening programs held at this location.
- Check out educational displays, ponder relief maps, or shop for souvenirs at one of the park’s visitor centers. View a short film about the park in the Kawuneeche Visitor Center or Beaver Meadows Visitor Center auditoriums.
- Travel by horseback around the park with your little one. Children as young as two can saddle up at Sombrero Ranch’s Glacier Creek Stables or Moraine Park Stables.
- Sign up your child in advance for a Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute program. Kid-class topics include photo journaling, geocaching, and animal “poop.”
- Scramble up and over piles of boulders—found everywhere in the park—with your little one. Or watch real-life spider-men and spider-women climb the walls along Lumpy Ridge.
- Sleep under the stars at one of the park’s five established campgrounds: Timber Creek, Aspenglen, Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, or Longs Peak. Watch and listen for wildlife activity at dusk and indulge in a gooey campfire treat. On summer evenings, head to one of the park’s amphitheaters or auditoriums for a ranger-led program.
- Go on a virtual treasure hunt with the Across the Divide GeoTour, a geocaching adventure that takes visitors to spots around Rocky, Estes Park, and Grand Lake.
- In the winter, pack the car with saucers and sleds, and drive to Hidden Valley sledding hill. Or, with a pull-behind carrier, explore snow-packed trails on cross-country skis around Wild Basin.
Excerpted From the First Edition of Moon Rocky Mountain National Park.