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Deciding on a place to visit..

Largo, Florida
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351 posts
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Deciding on a place to visit..

We can either go to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons or the Rocky Mountain National Park... We are a family of 4...(we have two boys ages 11 and 8)... Does anyone know the pros and cons of the two places.... I am having a hard time deciding... Thank you! Oh, we would be going in July...

Nederland, Colorado
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1. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

How much time do you have for your trip? That could be the determining factor.

Each one of the national parks has a lot to offer and they are totally different.

Colorado
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444 posts
7 reviews
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2. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

From looking at your other posts on the Yellowstone forums, are you locked into flying into SLC? Or could you change to Denver? Coming from SLC, seems like that's going to basically eat 2 days driving.

I can say lodging won't be as much of a problem with RMNP as it is with Yellowstone. While busy, it's not in the same league as Yellowstone, and there's more (relatively) nearby along front range or on west side. While it will be busy, I don't think you'll have anything like the crowds yellowstone gets in summer.

My opinion is RMNP strengths are the ability to get above timberline very easily, lots of great hiking, great mountain scenery, all pretty easily accessible. I'm not sure it really is fair to compare directly to Yellowstone, which is a very unique and amazing place, the thermal features are just unlike anything you'll see anywhere else. Though in regards to Grand Tetons..for my money I'll take RMNP over Tetons any day.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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3. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

I see you posted on the Wyoming forum as well. Let me guess. It is the grizzly bears that made you rethink Yellowstone/Grand Teton. Well, count that as your first pro for RMNP. RMNP has only black bears which are generally not aggressive and RMNP actually has a low density of black bears. People who have visited RMNP for over 30 years have never seen one. Black bears have been seen more often in recent years in the town of Estes Park because careless humans do not properly store potential bear food sources. I do not know of anyone who carries bear spray in RMNP. You can see bears in RMNP (I saw a sow and two young cubs last year) and you need to know what to do if you do see one. That bear sighting was my first and I am in RMNP about 20 times a year. Enough about the bears--

Another pro for RMNP is lodging choices. In Estes Park (town literally adjacent to the east side of RMNP) and Grand Lake (town literally adjacent to the west side of RMNP), there are many lodging options. Particularly in Estes Park, there are hotels, condos, cabins, vacation homes, etc. The choices can be overwhelming but that is what TA is for - to help you find the right lodging for you. People have been very happy with finds on vrbo, homeaway, flipkey, etc. for both Estes Park and Grand Lake.

The variety of restaurants is another pro for RMNP. You have many more choices in Estes Park and Grand Lake.

Airfare and proximity to a major airport is another plus for RMNP. You can get to RMNP in less than 2 hours from DIA - 90 minutes most of the time.

Estes Park/RMNP/Grand Lake are very family friendly with a variety of activities for all ages. There are many easy, family friendly hiking trails in RMNP. Horseback riding, bike rides, aerial tram, minigolf, bowling, fly fishing, off road jeep tours (in the national forest adjacent to RMNP), ATV rentals (national forest), a night at the movies, whitewater rafting (near Fort Collins about an hour and 15 minutes from Estes Park), kayaking, bouldering (term kids in my family use for climbing the rocks along the Gem Lake trail), go karts, boat rides, ziplining (near Grand Lake) and more are all available.

RMNP is not isolated. Many people make a loop trip from DIA and divide their time between RMNP, Breckenridge and/or Colorado Springs. See this mapquest link for the easy loop, although I would make a few changes to increase your scenery when it comes to planning.

http://mapq.st/1fGAWnP

Crowds - while folks here in Colorado consider Estes Park and RMNP crowded in July (peak visitation month for RMNP), people like myself who have visited Yellowstone will tell you that RMNP is not nearly as crowded as Yellowstone.

Trail Ridge Road - considered the crown jewel of RMNP. You do not just look up at the mountains. Eleven miles of Trail Ridge Road travels above 11,500 feet. Trail Ridge Road is a destination in itself.

You do not really want me to tell you the pros of Yellowstone/Grand Teton, do you? Well, at least I can wait until later to do that!

Largo, Florida
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4. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

Thank you all for your replies... I started to consider RMNP for several reasons....first, it is cheaper to fly into Denver, secondly, I read that Yellowstone is mostly a driving thing and I want to get out of the car.... I really, enjoyed Yosemite, Bryce and zion because we could hike....and the grizzly bears did kind of scare me, but if we had bear spray, I think we could be ok....oh, also I have been having a hard time finding good places to stay....

Largo, Florida
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5. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

fv1989, I would love to see the pros of Yellowstone....are there a lot of trails in Grand Tetons? we love mountain trails..

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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6. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

If you love mountain trails, then RMNP is for you. There are over 350 miles of trails in RMNP and that does not include the many trails in the adjacent Roosevelt National Forest and Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. Note my comment above regarding Trail Ridge Road - you do not just look up at the mountains. That applies to much of RMNP. In contrast, in Grand Teton you do look up at the mountains. There are many valley trails in Grand Teton and most of the mountain trails are more strenuous than I think your 8 year old would enjoy or be able to do. With the exception of the tram trails, the major trailheads in Grand Teton start below 7000 ft. In contrast, even the town of Estes Park is at 7500 ft. and all major trailheads in RMNP start at 7850 ft. or above. Very popular Bear Lake trailhead is at 9500 ft.

You might want to look at some of your trail options in Grand Teton and RMNP and compare. For mountain trails hikeable with your 8 year old, RMNP offers more and better options in my opinion.

nps.gov/grte/…Dayhikes14.pdf

nps.gov/romo/…list_hiking_trails.htm

protrails.com/area/8/rocky-mountain-national…

http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/

Edited: 01 February 2014, 20:08
Largo, Florida
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7. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

Thank you so very much!! I think RMNP is where we want to go...I love mountains & that is really what we want to see.... I just don't want to be stuck in the car forever & I noticed that cabin rentals aren't really that expensive... I just have to figure out where to stay... also, the flights to Denver are cheaper!

florida
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8. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

Good point about time INSIDE the car in Yellowstone. One attraction might be 30-40 minutes from another. If you see the size of the parks in relation to each other, RMNP is like 415 sq miles, Yellowstone almost 3500 sq miles.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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9. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

plz, cbressler1976 is now planning a trip to RMNP. See her topic. As an Estes Park/RMNP regular, you might want to add something.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143048-i3489-k717…

10. Re: Deciding on a place to visit..

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