What to Pack When Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

Packing for a trip can always be a bit challenging, but even more so when visiting the mountains. Here are some items you should consider bringing with you when you visit Rocky Mountain National Park.

Clothing for All Weather

The first thing to remember when packing for a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park is that the temperature and other weather conditions can vary wildly from one elevation to another. While it may be very hot in Estes Park and absolutely boiling down near Denver, it could be just above freezing up on Trail Ridge Road with high winds. So, it is a good idea to pack the following along with your standard summer clothing:

  • A fleece, sweater, or sweatshirt
  • A warm winter jacket
  • A warm hat
  • Gloves or mittens
  • A rain jacket

Be sure to have these in the car when you drive up into the tundra or in your backpack if hiking up high, even on warm days.

Protection for High Elevation Exposure

Because Rocky Mountain National Park is located at a high elevation, the sun’s UV rays are very strong. To help protect yourself be sure you pack the following:

  • Sunglasses UV400
  • Sunscreen with a rating of SPF 30 or higher
  • Sun hat

Hydration for Dry Climate

The air up in the mountains is very dry and so you need to pay extra attention to staying hydrated. Not only should you drink more water, but you'll find that your lips, hands, and hair all dry out. Here are some things that can help:

  • A water bottle
  • Chapstick or other lip balm with UV protection
  • Lotions and moisturizers

Hiking Clothing

If you plan on hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, then there are some things that you should consider. Firstly, try not to hike in cotton shirts or jeans as they tend to absorb moisture. If you are caught in a rainstorm, you will be soaking wet and cold and at risk of hypothermia. Instead choose clothing that dries quickly and try to dress in layers. Here’s a good video explanation on how to think about clothing when hiking. You’ll also want a good pair of hiking boots that will support your ankles and that you can wear through dusty and muddy trails. Make sure that they are fully broken in and comfortable before you come. There's nothing worse than new boots and blisters on a hiking vacation. Here’s a much more comprehensive list on what to pack and consider for more serious hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Hiking boots: Make sure they are comfortable, well-used, and ready for the dirt and mud.
  • Multiple layers
  • Avoid cotton shirts and jeans
  • A backpack
  • A small first aid kit
  • A headlamp in case you get stuck out after dark


When visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, keep in mind that there are no large stores in the area. The nearest Walmart or Target is at least an hour’s drive away. So be sure to bring all you need with you as far as toiletries, clothing, and medicines That said, there are some local stores that can be a resource if you find yourself without an essential item.

Here are a few other things you want to be sure to remember:

  • All toiletries & medicines
  • Phone and laptop chargers
  • Binoculars for watching wildlife
  • If you want to photograph wildlife, bring a camera with a long lens, at least 400mm.

What not to bring:

When coming on vacation to the mountains it is often tempting to try and balance work and vacation. This doesn’t work very well for anyone. It is important to take a real break, so you return home refreshed and even more productive. Consider leaving the following behind so you can concentrate on family, restoration, and truly enjoying and experiencing this time away.

  • Work laptop
  • Work phone
  • Work responsibilities

Don't forget to bring:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Flexibility
  • Time in your schedule to move at a slower pace
  • A desire to learn

If you bring these with you, you are likely to have an amazing trip that you will never forget.