Colorado Vacations 
Family Travel Colorado 
Your Guide to Visiting Colorado with the Kids
Family Safety when Traveling in Rocky Mountain National Park
When traveling with the kids to Rocky Mountain National Park, families should keep a few safety suggestions in mind.

Be aware that the altitude creates problems. Know what they are, how to prevent them and what to do if they arise.

Also, Rocky Mountain National Park is a wild place. Whether you encounter weather, beasts, or wild terrain, a few simple steps can keep your family safe.

Did You Know?

Colorado has four national parks, six national monuments, and two national historic sites.

Photo: A young hiker mulls over the mysteries of ancient architecture at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

The Bear Lake area in Rocky Mountain National Park offers some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Colorado.

Moraine Park and Longs Peak from Moraine Park Campground,
in Rocky Mountain National Park

Keep in Mind:

You're Up High

The high altitudes in Rocky Mountain National Park create problems that families must prepare for. The thin air doesn’t filter the sun’s rays very well, and sunburn comes quickly and severely to those who aren’t protected. Apply thick layers of heavy-duty sunscreen often throughout the day and wear wide brimmed hats. Sunglasses make eyes much more comfortable when checking out the scenery, especially if that scenery includes water, snow, or large expanses of exposed rocks. 

The thin air also delivers less oxygen to the body, which compensates by breathing more rapidly and more deeply. People often feel out of breath, even when doing simple things like walking across a parking lot. It takes a few days, at least, for your body to adjust to the altitude, and in the meantime you or your kids might experience such symptoms as shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Listen to those symptoms and take it easy. Plan only short, easy walks for the first few days.

High and DRY

Dehydration often makes altitude sickness worse, and the high, dry air sucks the moisture right out of your body. Adults can drink a quart or more of water while hiking, and it still may not be enough. Encourage water drinking by adding a bit of flavored powder to water bottles. Adults should avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can intensify symptoms.

Sick Sack, Anyone?

The high altitude plus the winding roads can bring on a nasty case of car sickness. At this writing, we have yet to drive over Trail Ridge Road without having a kid throw up at some point on the trip. You might want to act like an airline and keep a “sick sack” handy.


It’s cold in Rocky Mountain National Park! You can find snow there 365 days a year. Even during high summer, on the warmest days, it is often sweater weather. Summer snow squalls are not unusual, and the wind above treeline is at least chilly. No matter when you visit, bring warm hats, mittens, and coats for the kids. If you are camping out, be prepared with good sleeping bags, long underwear, and fluffy socks.

Be Kind to Animals

Humans can’t seem to resist the big eyes and twitchy little noses of woodland creatures, and they often feed them. It is a cruel thing to do. People food is bad for these wild animals, and frequently makes them quite sick. In addition, the extra calories allow more chipmunks to survive the summer than normally would, and the animals don’t learn normal food gathering behaviors. This causes many to starve in the winter, when the visitors aren’t there.

What Makes Rocky Mountain
National Park Special:

“I never felt so awestruck or insignificant!” said Cindi Hopwood of Augusta, Kansas, after traveling the Fall River Road. The sight of all those behemoth mountains, shoving and jostling each other to stretch the highest into the sky, can be almost overwhelming. It makes you feel kind of puny and really grand all at the same time. It is an experience that never gets old: walking to a viewpoint or on a trail, gazing out over the vista, and letting the enormity and the beauty soak in.

Excerpted from The Family Guide to Colorado's National Parks and Monuments,
(c) Carolyn Sutton 2006, all rights reserved. Copies available from Westcliffe Publishers and

Related Links:

Best Family Attractions in Rocky Mountain National Park
Ranger Programs for Kids in Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park Restaurants and Picnicking
Lodging and Campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park
Towns near Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park Quick Geology Guide
Rocky Mountain National Park Quick Wildlife Guide
A Quick History of Rocky Mountain National Park
When You Go - At a Glance Information for Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado National Park Directory
Colorado State Park Directory