Teeming with stunning natural beauty, from towering peaks to wide-open alpine tundra, Rocky Mountain National Park is a Colorado must-do for visitors. It’s so alluring, in fact, that more than three million visitors mosey in annually. Breathe in crisp mountain air, hike through grassy meadows, gasp at snowcapped peaks and keep an eye out for elk, bighorn sheep, moose, marmots and bear. Most visitors stay near Trail Ridge Rd (open last Monday in May to mid-October), which winds through spectacular alpine tundra environments. Those who prefer communing with nonhuman nature should venture on foot away from the road corridor; the reward is quiet, superlative scenery.
Late-19th-century hotel and road construction in the settlement of Estes Park prompted naturalist Enos Mills to campaign in 1909 to protect the area. He faced opposition from private grazing and timber interests, but in early 1915 Congress approved the bill creating Rocky Mountain National Park.