Visiting Colorado’s National Parks By RV

If you're an outdoor enthusiast and RV traveler in search of breathtaking beauty and thrilling adventures, then Colorado is the place to be. It has four remarkable national parks that offer a unique blend of natural splendor and exhilarating experiences that are sure to leave you with an unforgettable journey.


Rocky Mountain National Park: A Hiker's Paradise

Rocky Mountain National Park

Prepare to be enchanted by the mesmerizing landscapes and excellent hiking trails at Rocky Mountain National Park. This beloved destination welcomes visitors from all corners of the globe, and to ensure a smooth experience, the park has a timed-entry system from late May to mid-October. To secure your entry permit, visit the park's website and apply.


For a leisurely stroll, head to Bear Lake, a delightful half-mile loop surrounded by golden aspens that cast their vibrant colors on the lake's surface during late September. If you're up for a challenge, embark on the 6-mile trail to Alberta Falls and Mills Lake, or venture further to the awe-inspiring Loch, Lake of Glass, and Sky Pond. You'll even experience some thrilling scrambling up a waterfall at an elevation of about 11,000 feet to reach Lake of Glass and Sky Pond.


You can access Rocky Mountain National Park through the Grand Lake to the west and Estes Park to the east which are two gateway communities. RVers have the option of five campgrounds within the park, with three (Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, and Moraine Park) available for advance reservation, while two (Longs Peak and Timber Creek) operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Keep in mind that Moraine Park is the only campground open year-round.


Great Sand Dunes National Park: A Sandy Wonderland

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Discover the surprising beauty of Great Sand Dunes National Park, where endless dunes stretch to the northwest, creating a unique and captivating Colorado experience. Embrace the limited cell phone coverage and lack of WiFi at the visitor center – it's all part of the sandy wonderland!


The park's sand dunes take center stage, offering thrilling sled rides down the slopes for families and adventurous souls. If hiking is more your style, explore marked trails in the national preserve to the northeast, such as the 6.4-mile Mosca Pass Trail, adorned with colorful wildflowers in spring. For an extra dose of adventure, consider a side trip to Zapata Falls, located about 3 miles south of the park. The drive to the trailhead may be a bit rugged, but witnessing the 25-foot waterfall makes it all worthwhile.


Navigating your way to the main entrance of Great Sand Dunes National Park is an adventure in itself, with scenic routes leading you to this sandy wonderland. Whether you're approaching from the south or the west, you'll be treated to breathtaking views along the way.


If you're traveling from the south, hop onto U.S. Route 160, and follow it until you reach Colorado State Highway 150. This route will guide you through picturesque landscapes as you make your way to the park. On the other hand, if you're coming from the west, take Colorado State Highway 17, and then connect to Highway 150. This path promises awe-inspiring vistas that will undoubtedly leave you in awe even before you arrive at the park.

Mesa Verde National Park: A Journey into Ancient History

mesa verde national park

Mesa Verde National Park offers a captivating glimpse into the ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings and the rich cultural history they embody. The rugged mountains surrounding the park add yet another layer of beauty to this extraordinary destination. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the nearby Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, which offers even more incredible experiences.


For those with physical stamina, the 2.5-mile Petroglyph Point trail is a must-do, where you can spot petroglyphs along the way. While up-close access to the cliff dwellings at Spruce House is no longer possible due to falling-rock hazards, you can still view the Step House on Wetherill Mesa from a steep 1-mile path without being on a guided tour. If the hikes seem too strenuous, opt for the 6-mile self-guided Mesa Top Loop Road tour, leading to 12 archaeological sites and viewpoints of the famous Cliff Palace. Despite potential crowds during peak hours, the history and scenery make it a worthwhile journey.


Getting There By RV: The main entrance to Mesa Verde is conveniently located just off U.S. Route 160, with the entrance road winding up a steep and narrow path. It's essential to note that a tunnel between mileposts four and five has a height restriction of 20.5 feet, so Class A RV drivers should plan accordingly. Additionally, trailers are not permitted on certain sections of Mesa Verde, particularly the steep and curvy road to Wetherill Mesa, which is designated for vehicles weighing less than 8,000 pounds and shorter than 25 feet. If you're not planning to camp, there's a parking lot near the entrance station where trucks can unload trailers.


Inside the park, Morefield Campground offers 267 sites, 15 of which come with full hookups. Keep in mind that cell phone coverage is sparse. However, it's essential to be aware that Morefield Campground closes from mid-October to mid-April and has reduced services during its first and last two weeks of operation.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: A Canyon of Contrast

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Prepare to be astounded by the striking contrast of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, renowned for its steep and dark allure, setting it apart from the more famous Grand Canyon. If heights make you uneasy, plan your visit with care. The canyon divides the park into two halves, with the south side offering facilities and amenities, while the north side, accessible only via a gravel road, boasts stunning views.


You can take on the challenge of the Gunnison Route, a steep, 1-mile scramble down (and back up) into the depths of the canyon. For experienced kayakers, paddling the Gunnison River at the bottom of the canyon is an unforgettable experience, while others can find rafting opportunities at the nearby Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. If you prefer staying dry, over 100 miles of hiking trails await exploration.

If you're an outdoor enthusiast and RV traveler seeking unparalleled beauty and unforgettable experiences, Colorado's national parks are calling your name. Whether you're mesmerized by the Rocky Mountains, enchanted by the sand dunes, intrigued by ancient cliff dwellings, or drawn to the awe-inspiring Black Canyon, there's something here for every adventurer at heart. Embrace the wilderness, create unforgettable memories, and embark on the journey of a lifetime in Colorado's majestic national parks. See you on the road!


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