Our trip begins today in Denver, Colorado. Meet your guides at 1pm at our host hotel near the Denver International Airport. A brief orientation ensures we're all prepared before we load into our private van and set out for Rocky Mountain National Park. From Plains Indians to buffalo hunters, this region is rich in history and our guides take advantage of the scenic drive to begin to tell the story of this beautiful region. Upon arriving at the park, we stop at the Moraine Park Discovery Center before continuing on to our campsite. Our camp accommodations include oversized tents allowing plenty of room for us to stretch out and stow our gear. After dinner and some relaxation time, we head out for an evening hike to Sprague Lake, hoping to see some elk, moose, or deer. We end the night around a campfire under a star-filled Rocky Mountain sky. Dinner included.
Hiking: 1.5 miles with minimal elevation gain and loss. Transfer time: 2 hours. Camp elevation: 8,500’.
A hot breakfast prepared by the guides starts a fun-filled day of exploration and discovery. Our first activity is a 1.5-mile downhill hike through ponderosa forest and open meadows with spectacular views of the surrounding alpine landscape. After our warm-up hike, we continue to Hidden Valley, the headquarters of the park's Junior Ranger Program. Here, the kids have an opportunity to learn more about this mountainous wonderland from a park ranger and earn a Junior Ranger badge for participating. Later this afternoon, we explore the Alluvial Fan Trail – always on the lookout for Bighorn sheep – and finish the day's adventure with a two-mile hike across Moraine Park. All meals included.
Hiking: 4-5 miles with minimal elevation gain and loss.
The sounds of birds and chipmunks awaken us in our comfy tents, and we begin a full day of adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park. A hot breakfast is the prelude to our hike to a series of beautiful alpine lakes crowned by towering granite peaks. Situated in the Tyndall Gorge, Bear Lake is by far one of the most popular and most photographed lakes in the park. After Bear Lake, our trail takes us on a gradual ascent to Nymph Lake, lined by pond lilies and offering stunning views of Longs Peak and Glacier Gorge. Prepare for jaw-dropping scenery when we reach Emerald Lake, with the jagged spires of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain dominating the skyline. After soaking in the dramatic alpine scenery that surrounds us, we return to camp where a hearty dinner await us in our comfortable outdoor home. All meals included.
Hiking: 4.5 miles with 625' elevation gain and loss.
Today we see the Rockies from a new perspective. Fueled by a delicious camp breakfast, we load into our van and travel for an hour and a half to meet our river guides and get ready for a fun morning paddling the Cache La Poudre River. After a safety talk and rafting instruction, we hop in our rafts and enjoy equal measures of thrills and stunning scenery. Get ready for splashing and laughing on Colorado's only designated "Wild and Scenic River." We raft a stretch of the river that's perfect for families, even those with no previous rafting experience. After a delicious lunch recapping our paddling exploits, we return to camp in mid-afternoon and have plenty of time to play games, relax in the fresh mountain air, or catch up on some summer reading. Another night of stargazing and roasting marshmallows with newfound friends is the perfect end to an adventure-filled day. All meals included.
Rafting: 3 hours. Transfer time: 3 hours roundtrip.
This morning we take a scenic drive along the eastern slope of Longs Peak in the Tahosa Valley to the Wild Basin Trailhead. Here we load up our daypacks with lunch, snacks and cameras before setting out to visit three beautiful, but distinctly unique waterfalls. Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades, and Ouzel Falls all have their own special look and feel and offer a variety of great photographic opportunities. In the rushing streams, the songbird known as the water ouzel (or American dipper) entertains us as it flies, floats, swims and wades in a never-ending search for aquatic insects. Our guides prepare a special farewell dinner for us tonight, providing an opportunity to reflect on our adventures in this magnificent national park. All meals included.
Hiking: 5.4 miles with 970' elevation gain/loss.
No experience in Rocky Mountain National Park would be complete without driving across the Trail Ridge Road, widely considered the most beautiful drive in America. Gaining 4,500' in elevation, we see the vegetation and terrain transform drastically while we try to spot marmots, pikas, elk herds and Bighorn sheep. We'll stop to enjoy a few short hikes high in the alpine tundra at over 11,000' before continuing westward on Trail Ridge Road across the backbone of the continent towards the west side of the park and the headwaters of the Colorado River. En route, we visit Holzwarth Historic Site for a short, easy walk before resuming our drive back to Denver. We anticipate getting back to the Denver host hotel between 6pm and 7pm. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 1.5 miles above 11,000' with minimal elevation gain/loss. Scenic drive on Trail Ridge Road: 2 hours with several breaks including short hikes. Total transfer time: 4 hours.