About/How to use HikingRMNP.

My name is Andy, and this blog grew out of my love for hiking in RMNP.  I originally started it mainly because I thought some of the guidebooks were lacking in descriptions and to share my hikes with my family.  That being said, I would not consider this your only resource since you cannot take it along out into the wild.  A good guide book or at the very least a map should be in your pack every time you hit the trail.  Questions, comments, concerns, or partner wanted?  Email me at andy@hikingrmnp.org.
For a book, I would recommend Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Hiking Guide by Lisa Foster.  If you don't want to carry a whole book, take a nice topo map with you.  You can also look on sites such as Caltopo or here or here to download and print maps for free.
Always make sure you set out with the ten essentials, or as many of them as you feel you should have.  If you are coming from out of state, make sure to use sunscreen, sunglasses, and to drink alot of water.  The altitude and exertion can hurt!  One thing that I always have in my bag is a roll of sports tape.  It's duct tape for the human body and can be used to repair gear as well..

How to use this blog:
If you are looking for a particular destination, type it into the search bar on the upper right or check out the new interactive map feature!  I have hiked extensively in RMNP and will give a description of the hike along with photos shot by myself.
Look at the end of each page for distances, elevation gains, difficulty ratings, and any other information such as classifications.
My difficulty ratings take the whole hike into consideration: gain, distance, and class difficulty are included in the ranking.  Therefore, a shorter hike with more elevation gain and/or third or higher class sections could have a similar to or harder ranking than a longer hike with less gain that is first class only.
Rankings are currently (easiest to hardest):
Hors Cat├ęgorie (borrowed from cycling and used only once so far, this indicates the most difficult hike imaginable)
As you can see, a strenuous- hike will be more difficult than a moderate+.  These are my rankings and impressions only.

Alot has been written about the hiking classes.  I have had a hard time separating some of them in my head.  This is a personal ranking I have come up with over the past two years.
Class 1: Unless stated, every hike on this blog is class 1 only.  This means all you'll be doing is walking.  This can include walking on a trail, walking on rock, walking on tundra, walking off trail/bushwhacking.
Class 2: Usually used on steeper/loose rock.  Sometimes off trail.  At this point hands will start coming into play, but will generally be used for balance only.  Examples include: hiking up a steep scree slope and putting your hands down for balance, bushwhacking up/down a steep slope and using foliage for balance.
Class 3: Now you'll be using your hands more, actively holding onto and lightly pulling off of things to further yourself.
Class 4: Your hands are now taking a predominate role in movement; you'll be actively seeking hand/foot holds, and holding onto and pulling with your hands on rock is essential to movement.  Class 4 is often highly exposed, and a fall in it will result in serious injury if not death.
Class 5: Technical climbing.  Holding up to full body weight on hands only, finding hand/foot holds.  You'll definitely want a rope for this.
I have occasionally added the X qualification to a hike.  This comes from climbing and means a fall will result in injury or death.  Though, as stated above, I'd consider most class 3 or 4 to be understood to be X rated.

Anyway, thanks for visiting.  I hope some of my descriptions help you reach your goals, and that you enjoy your time in RMNP as much as I do.  It is a place I love and have a deep passion for if you couldn't tell:)! 


  1. Backpacking to pear lake in late July and camping two nights there. Going to try and reach the summit of Copeland and get some fishing in. First backpacking trip for me and my friend in RMNP we are stoked.

    1. You will have a great time! It's a beautiful area!

  2. Hi Andy -- I was wondering if the 2005 edition of Lisa Foster's book had any more info suitable for off-trail hiking than the 2012 edition. Just deciding if I should chase down/buy the older edition. Would you know?

    1. I've only got the older, not the newer, so I can't comment on the differences between them.

  3. Hello! Thank you for the work you've put in, this is an incredible resources and I've been really enjoying reading your trip reports while stuck in an office.
    I've done a lot of hiking in RMNP, more than I can quickly list, but I'm moving out of the state in the next few months and trying to really savor it before I turn my eyes to the Cascades.
    I was wondering if you had a shortlist somewhere of your favorite locations in RMNP? I'm sure you couldn't pick just one, but I'm trying to see if there are any spectacular cant-be-missed spots that I should trek to before I leave. Thanks!

    1. Let's see...
      In Wild Basin, Bluebird Lake and Isolation Peak stand out in my mind. Getting into Upper Glacier Gorge (above Black Lake) is quite spectacular, though Mills Lake itself is very pretty. Pretty much anywhere from the Dunraven Th is a good choice, whether it be the lakes in the drainage or the peaks around. CCY is a good moderate alpine route to get three summits. The Never Summers in general are a favorite, and you can't go wrong there. The lakes on the west side are pretty cool, like Nokoni and Nanita, or making the trek up East Inlet all the way to Fifth Lake.
      Hopefully this helps, my general preference is for places that are less populated, which generally means a longer or bigger day to get there and back.