Road Scholar : Home
Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park for Women

Program Number: 17551RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/27/2014 - 8/1/2014; 7/24/2016 - 7/29/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/23/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Estes Park, Colorado
Price starting at: $999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Team up with other women for a one-of-a-kind experience as you hike the magnificent mountains, lakes and cascades of Rocky Mountain National Park — truly a hiker’s paradise. With instruction and guidance from experienced women leaders, learn trail etiquette and the techniques of navigating boulder fields, stream crossings and alpine tundra. The hikes will add difficulty and elevation each day, with the last day attempting one of the peaks of the park. Discover the hidden treasures of the National Park accessed only by trail, develop new outdoor skills and make new friends!


• With Estes Park as your base, hike with women in beautiful selected locations of Rocky Mountain National Park.
• Instruction includes mountain safety, basic first-aid and the prevention and treatment of elevation disorders.
• Enjoy a free evening in Estes Park and choose from a delightful choice of restaurants and activities.

Activity Particulars

Hiking 6-12 miles a day. Hiking elevations of 8,000-13,000 feet.

Coordinated by Mountains and Plains Institute.

Estes Park

In a high mountain valley 7,522 feet above sea level is Estes Park, a village once home to members of the Clovis culture that first crossed the Bering Strait land bridge into North America. Named for adventurer Joel Estes, the town is a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, a spectacular wilderness protected for millions to enjoy every year.

Comfortable motel located near National Park entrance.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Jan Rastall

As a Master Naturalist and certified Wilderness First Responder, Jan Rastall has worked, played and raised a family in Fort Collins, Colorado. For 25 years, she worked for Colorado State University as an Outward Bound instructor and expedition co-leader for the university’s outdoor program. Jan has logged over 14,000 miles walking, hiking and trekking in over 20 countries including New Zealand, Nepal and Argentina. She has climbed over 35 of Colorado’s 14,000+ft. mountains, and her high altitude peaks include Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa and the Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina. Jan has cycled internationally in Italy, France, Greece, Ireland, and Costa Rica. She is also an avid trail-runner, a three-time Pikes Peak Ascent Masters Champion and has completed several ultra-marathons. Jan has over 20 years of experience working with adults in lifelong learning programs, and enjoys sharing her passion for outdoor ecology and conservation with others.
Sylvia South

Sylvia South is a retired schoolteacher from Boulder, Colorado who taught in the area of consumer and family studies for 24 years. Her classes included topics in health, wellness, nutrition and outdoor living. Sylvia has lived near Eldorado Canyon for 39 years, and has a passion for the outdoors and nature. In the past, she was a competitive runner and tri-athlete, and today continues to enjoy hiking, bicycling, skiing, swimming, gardening and anything that brings her outside. Sylvia has traveled extensively and loves meeting new people and sharing experiences. She has been involved with the Rocky Mountain National Park Women’s Hiking program for three years and helps to lead Road Scholar ski programs.
Meals and Lodgings
   Alpine Trail Ridge Inn
  Estes Park, CO 5 nights
 Alpine Trail Ridge Inn
Type: Motel
  Description: All 48 rooms are non-smoking, and no pets. They are always exceptionally clean, comfortable, and a great value. We are an older property, recently remodeled and well-maintained. We have a nice heated outdoor pool.
  Contact info: 927 Moraine Avenue, US Hwy 36W
Estes Park, CO 80517 USA
phone: 970-586-4585
  Room amenities: Wireless internet connection, balconies on rooms
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call for information Call for availibility and prices
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call for information Call for availibility and prices
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Arrival and check-in 3- 5:00 pm. Required orientation at 5:00 pm followed by dinner. You will be staying at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast. Room check-out is 10:00 am. You will be staying at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Acknowledgement of Risk-Liability Waiver Form to be mailed to Mountains and Plains Institute Office. Please bring National Parks Annual Pass or Seniors National Parks Lifetime Pass
  Parking availability:
No charge
To Start of Program
  Location:  Estes Park, CO
  Nearest city or town:  Loveland
  Nearest highway: US 34/36
  Nearest airport:  Denver International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Estes Park, CO
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Estes Park


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
See below
Advanced Reservations Required


Travel Time:






100 miles


Denver International Airport (DEN) is closest airport. Commercial shuttle is Estes Park Shuttle, reservations required, 970-586-5151

Driving Directions
  Estes Park from East or West From Colorado Interstate 25, exit #257B (US Highway 34) heading west towards Loveland. Follow US 34 through Loveland to Estes Park about 35 miles. There will be 5 stoplights to get to the motel. Go into the center of the downtown through the first, second and third lights without turning, and take a left at the fourth light onto Moraine Avenue that is also the US 36 junction. After making that turn, get in the right hand lane because the highway, US 36 will take a sharp right in about 3 blocks, and you need to be in that lane. Go about 1 1/2 miles from that fourth light and you'll come to a fifth light. Go through that light and the Alpine Trail Ridge Inn is about half a block on the right hand side. If you come to the National Park entrance you have gone too far. Coming from the West over Trail Ridge Road-US 34: As you're coming east over Trail Ridge Road on US 34, when you get to Deer Ridge Junction, keep going straight, which will be US 36. Follow it on out of the Park and about a mile past the Park Headquarters, watch for Alpine Trail Ridge Inn on the left hand side of the divided highway.
Elevation Note: Estes Park is at 7,522 ft, hikes will be 8,000-13,000 ft. See attached high altitude information

Equipment Requirements: Daypack, water bottles, good broken-in hiking boots, rain gear, layers for wind and cold, recommended list attached.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Safety Orientation/Introductions
(Sunday, July 27)

Note: All of our hikes this week will be in Rocky Mountain National Park, routes selected will depend upon fitness of the group, and will allow for adjusting to altitude and difficulty as week progresses.

 Arrive To: Arrival and check-in 3- 5:00 pm. Required orientation at 5:00 pm followed by dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner in local restaurant
 Evening: Introductions, planning for the week
Accommodations: Alpine Trail Ridge Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Day long hike in Loch Vale
(Monday, July 28)

Note: Trailhead elevation is 9,475 feet. Today's hike is 6.2 miles with an elevation gain/loss of 990 feet.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant
 Morning: Loch Vale is one of the most beautiful and most popular hikes in the park. We’ll start at the Bear Lake trailhead, unless we find a place to park at Glacier Gorge. Bear Lake is 9475 ft. elevation. We will first see Alberta falls; the most photographed falls in the park. It was named after Abner Sprague’s wife. Sprague was an Estes Park pioneer. Loch was named after a guest in Sprague’s lodge named Locke. It was changed to Loch, the Scottish name for lake. Loch Vale is a crystal clear alpine lake. The broad cliff at the Loch is Cathedral Wall, a favorite for rock climbers. We’ll eat lunch at the lake and continue toward Andrew’s glacier if the group is up to 1.3 miles more. We also have the option of seeing Mills Lake on our return (.6 miles) The trail is good, but we gain 990 ft from Glacier Gorge to the Loch. (3.1 miles one way to Loch Vale)
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Continue morning hike, stop at Beaver Meadow's Visitor's Center before returning to motel.
 Dinner: Dinner in local restaurant
 Evening: Short "debrief" on today's hike and planning for tomorrow then time for reflection, relaxation
Accommodations: Alpine Trail Ridge Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: All day hike in Wild Basin
(Tuesday, July 29)

Note: Trailhead elevation is 8,006 feet. Today's hike is from 5.4 miles to 9.8 miles with an elevation gain/loss of 1,500 feet.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant
 Morning: Our hike today will start in Wild Basin, a trailhead in the park that is close to Highlands. The elevation at the trailhead is 8,566 feet. This will be a day to enjoy beautiful waterfalls. We will first come to Copeland Falls (.3miles), then climb 1.8 miles to Calypso Cascades. Calypso Cascades was named after the calypso orchid, also known as fairy slipper. On the trail you will see remains of a 1978 forest fire. This opened up the area to get a great view of Mt Meeker (right) and Long’s Peak (left) At 2.7 miles Ouzel Falls is on the left. It is named after a little grey bird that is about the size of a robin that dips its head in the stream and dives for insects. It’s also called a dipper. The elevation of Ouzel Falls is 9,516. If the group is up to a longer hike, we will hike to Ouzel Lake (4.9 miles from the trailhead, elevation gain of 1,510 feet)
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Continue morning hike. We will return to our motel for a short day's debrief and to clean up and have dinner in Estes Park. Dinner will be on your own. We will visit the historic Stanley Hotel, as a group if there is interest.
 Dinner: Dinner on own to explore the varied restaurants of the quaint town of Estes Park.
 Evening: Free time for exploring and shopping in downtown Estes Park.
Accommodations: Alpine Trail Ridge Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Over the top-Trail Ridge Road
(Wednesday, July 30)

Note: We will travel by van over the highest Federal Highway in the U.S.: Trail Ridge Road. Morning hike, Ute Trail, 3 miles, elevation gain 800 feet, highest elevation, 12,150 feet. Afternoon several short interpretive hikes to viewpoints along highway

 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant
 Morning: Today you will travel on Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the U.S. We will start in the Montane ecosystem, below 9,000 ft, travel to the Subalpine, 9,000-11,400 ft, and end up in the Alpine ecosystem above 11,400 ft. We’ll drive to the Ute Trail and hike for several hours. This is an out and back hike. You’ll experience the beauty of the alpine tundra and beautiful views. It’s important to stay on the trail because plants are very fragile in this harsh environment. We’ll get back in the van and drive to the Alpine Visitor center. It’s a great place to look at the views, shop in the gift shop and eat lunch outside.
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch at Alpine Visitor Center or adjacent location depending upon weather.
 Afternoon: On our way back we’ll take a short hike at high altitude on the tundra trailhead. Hopefully, we’ll see herds of elk along the road. If there is interest we’ll stop by the Alluvial Fan. In 1982 a dam broke and washed down rocky debris creating alluvial fan. Return to motel.
 Dinner: Dinner in local restaurant
 Evening: Short "debrief" on today's hike and planning for tomorrow then time for reflection, relaxation
Accommodations: Alpine Trail Ridge Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Hike in Bear Lake area, possible Peak climb
(Thursday, July 31)

Note: Trailhead elevation 9,500 feet. All day hike of 8.8 miles roundtrip, elevation gain/loss 2,849 feet. Very early morning start.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant
 Morning: Lake, Emerald Lake, Glacier Gorge, and the Continental Divide. Listen for peeps of little pikas Today we will hike to the Flattop Mountain. We want an early start again because of the construction on Bear Lake road and we will be above tree line, so we want to be at the top early. We will start at the Bear Lake trailhead and climb 4.4 miles to an elevation of 12,324 ft (an elevation gain of 2,849ft). Hallett peak is another .6 miles. The views are spectacular of Dream Lake from the top. You may also see ptarmigans and marmots along with many wildflowers.
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Continue morning hike, summit hike will be weather permitting. Return to motel in late afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner in local restaurant
 Evening: Final debrief and farewells, packing, relaxation
Accommodations: Alpine Trail Ridge Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Departures after breakfast, motel check-out 10 am.
(Friday, August 1)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at local restaurant
 Morning: Independent departures after breakfast
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

Author: Isabella Bird

Description: In 1872, Isabella Bird, daughter of a clergyman, set off alone to the Antipodes 'in search of health' and found she had embarked on a life of adventurous travel. In 1873, wearing Hawaiian riding dress, she rode her horse through the American Wild West, a terrain only newly opened to pioneer settlement. The letters that make up this volume were first published in 1879. They tell of magnificent, unspoiled landscapes and abundant wildlife, of encounters with rattlesnakes, wolves, pumas and grizzly bears, and her reactions to the volatile passions of the miners and pioneer settlers. A classic account of a truly astounding journey.

Geology Underfoot along Colorado's Front Range

Author: Lon Abbott and Terri Cook

Description: The transition from the relatively flat Great Plains to the craggy peaks of Colorado s Front Range is one of North America s most abrupt topographical contrasts. The epic, 1,800-million-year geologic story behind this amazing landscape is even more awe inspiring. In Geology Underfoot along Colorado s Front Range, the most recent addition to the Geology Underfoot series, authors (and geoscientists) Lon Abbott and Terri Cook narrate the Front Range s tale, from its humble beginnings as a flat, nondescript seafloor through several ghostly incarnations as a towering mountain range. The book s 21 chapters, or vignettes, lead you to easily accessible stops along the Front Range s highways and byways, where you ll meet the apatosaur and other dinosaurs who roamed the floodplains and beaches that once covered the Front Range; look for diamonds in rare, out-of-the-way volcanic pipes; learn how America s mountain, Pikes Peak, developed from molten magma miles below the surface only to become an important visual landmark for early Great Plains travelers; and walk the Gangplank, a singularly important plateau for both nineteenth-century westward expansion and our understanding of the Front Range s most recent exhumation. A healthy dose of full-color illustrations and photos demystify the concepts put forth in the authors elegant, insightful prose. With Geology Underfoot along Colorado s Front Range in hand, you ll feel like you re traveling through time as you explore the Front Range s hidden geologic treasures.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Hiking Guide

Author: Lisa Foster

Description: The complete experience of hiking Rocky Mountain National Park has finally been captured in one comprehensive volume. All 400 named features in the Park are explored and two-thirds of this book covers off-trail hikes not commonly found in guidebooks. Extensively field-checked and accompanied by striking photography and USGS maps, this amazing collection draws upon Foster's over 7,000 hours of backcountry expertise. From casual strolls to class 4 climbing, no other book has tackled the entire park in such an in-depth and exciting way.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2016 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768