7 Places in Rocky Mountain National Park to Capture the Perfect Photo
Grand Lake, Colorado. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin (OutThere Colorado)
For professional photographers, shutterbug hobbyists, and Instagrammers alike, Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area offer the perfect opportunity for some of the most incredible photos of your life. From landscape shots to wildlife viewing, from waterfalls to wildflowers, there’s such a variety of landscapes and scenic views that you’ll never run out of amazing photos to capture. To experience this photographer’s dream destination, we’ve put together a list of some our favorite spots to get the perfect shot; start in the town of Grand Lake and at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park at Adams Falls and then venture further in to the national park on the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road for an incredible experience above tree line and amazing opportunities for wildlife viewing.
1. Town of Grand Lake
The picturesque town of Grand Lake is set at the edge of Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake. Snow-capped peaks surround the historic downtown and lakefront boardwalk, and boaters and anglers can enjoy the clear waters of the lake. Sunrises and sunsets are particularly stunning, especially when the alpenglow reflects off the 12,000-foot Mount Craig that sits on the horizon in Rocky Mountain National Park.
2. Adams Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park
The hike to Adams Falls at the edge of Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most accessible destinations within the park. An easy 0.9-mile roundtrip hike from the East Inlet Trailhead will bring you to these beautiful cascades. You’ll pass through pine forest on a well-marked trail until you reach the edges. Set up your camera on a tripod for a longer exposure to capture the movement of the water.
3. Far View Curve, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
Begin your Trail Ridge Road journey at the Grand Lake Visitor Center for maps, current road conditions, and wildlife viewing recommendations. 16 miles after you start your road trip, you’ll arrive at Far View Curve at 10,148 feet above sea level. This stop on Trail Ridge Road offers unmatched views of the forbidding Never Summer Mountain Range, the Kawuneeche Valley, and the Colorado River. This is the perfect spot for that wide angle landscape photograph you’ve been after.
4. Milner Pass and Poudre Lake, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
Milner Pass takes travelers over the Continental Divide. On the east side of the Divide, the water flows into the Mississippi River and toward the Atlantic Ocean, while on the western side, the water flows into the Colorado River and toward the Pacific Ocean. Poudre Lake, located on the east side of the Divide, has a great lake view and views of the surrounding peaks.
5. Gore Range Overlook, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
About one-mile from the Alpine Visitor Center at the mid-point of Trail Ridge Road sits the Gore Range Overlook. If you’ve never experienced a landscape above treeline, you’ll feel an incredible freedom like nothing you can feel from lower elevations. From above treeline at 12,048 feet above sea level, you’ll be able to view the Gore Range mountains as well as the Never Summer Range and feel the fresh air and wind on your face. Spend some time at this stop, enjoy!
6. Rainbow Curve, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
At a little over 30 miles from Grand Lake, you’ll reach Rainbow Curve, a breathtaking overlook from which you can see Horseshoe Park, the Beaver Ponds, and the Alluvial Fan that was formed by the 1982 Lawn Lake overflow. You know that scene in Disney’s The Lion King where Simba’s father lifts him high above the savannah and tells Simba that all that he can see is his? That’s what you’ll feel like at Rainbow Curve.
7. Deer Ridge Junction, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
Deer Ridge Junction, the final stop on your Trail Ridge Road photography tour, is about 40 miles from Grand Lake, closer to Estes Park. Deer Junction provides some of the most iconic and recognizable views of Trail Ridge Road, so you can try your hand at capturing one of those iconic images.