Hike: Continental Divide Trail Traverse (3 day)
The portion of the trail that traverses Rocky Mountain National Park is ideal for those who want a challenging adventure traversing the park, while tying in the history and mystique of the Continental Divide.
The Continental Divide Traverse follows the Continental Divide Trail across the central region of Rocky Mountain Park. The Continental Divide Trail is a 3,100-mile path from Mexico to Canada that traverses five US States. The portion of the trail that traverses Rocky Mountain National Park is ideal for those who want a challenging hike traversing the park, while tying in the history and mystique of the Continental Divide. The entire backpacking portion of the trip is on designated trails. A day hike with only daypacks on day 2 has the option of traveling off trail in the alpine zone depending on desires of the group. We have two route options, both with their own unique and equally spectacular in grand scenery. The Northern Traverse has the option for greater wildlife viewing in open meadows, including moose and elk. The Southern Traverse explores a cozy evergreen valley of lush wooded forests and incredible sub alpine landscapes.
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Check out our blog post for 2023 Rocky Mountain National Park permit dates:
Please note that we are able to create a trip for you outside of these permit dates. Call us at (720)242-9828 for more details!
Day 0: Meet and go over gear, food, and itinerary. Plan on meeting for 1-1.5 hours the night before to make sure all gear is double-checked and your backpack is packed and ready to go for an early morning departure. Note: Some companies include this day as part of the total trip length, thus making it a four-day trip. However, we only include it as Day 0 to build rapport with your Colorado local guide and help with your acclimation.
Day 1: Your guide will pick you up in the early morning and take you to the wilderness trailhead (on the eastern side of the park) in central Rocky Mountain National Park. We will take a short visit to see the only park building in the national park service designed by Franklin Lloyd Wright’s design team. Once on the trail, we will ascend through the mountain to subalpine ecological zones or biomes, and arrive in the alpine zone near Flattop Mountain (12,324’), This is a difficult ascent with backpacks and includes almost 3000’ feet of elevation gain in only 3.5 miles. After a break on the summit of Flattop, with spectacular 360 degree views into 2 separate watersheds of the Rocky Mountains, we descend west off the divide to just below tree line, and arrive at your campsite in the afternoon. Hiking mileage and time: 7.5 miles and 8 hours. Elevation Gain: 2874′ and Elevation loss: 2154′.
Option: There is an option of summiting Hallett Peak (12,771′) after summiting Flattop Mountain. This will add about another 1:30-2 hours and will be determined based weather conditions and how the group is feeling, once we arrive at the divide.
Day 2: This day will afford us an opportunity to explore the peaks and valleys below the Continental Divide and we will take a 7-9 mile day hike (with small day packs) into a secluded and beautiful valley. Our hiking options for the day will be determined by the groups fitness and desires, our campsite choice from the previous night, and the weather.
Day 3: The last day will be a downhill hike over rolling terrain to the Trailhead (on the western side of the park) for about 7 – 9 miles with a loss of 1500 feet through the evergreen forests. We will end our backpacking trip at Grand Lake. This is the best area of the park to see Moose, so keep your keys open. After completing the hike we will have a 3-hour drive back to the Boulder over Trail Ridge road (the highest continuous road in America) for our post-backpack celebration.
Difficult (West to East Traverse) – On difficult trips, you will hike up to 8 miles a day with a 25-35 pound backpack. Elevation gain/loss may be as much as 3000 feet on maintained trails, or up to 2000 feet on more rugged trails. For a difficult trip, you should be comfortable hiking 6-8 miles in a day in hilly or mountainous terrain with a 25-pound backpack at altitudes of 7000’ – 10,750’.
Very Difficult (East to West Traverse) – Very difficult trips take place on rugged, unmaintained trails with larger backpacks (30-40 pounds). The hiking is often steep and steady with daily distances of up to 10 miles and an elevation change of up to 4,000 feet. For these trips, you should be comfortable hiking for several hours (3 – 6 hours) without many breaks and have previous experience exercising and sleeping at elevations of 7000’-11, 000’. Trips take place at altitudes of 7000’ – 13,000’.
What to Bring: Sent with trip confirmation
Included: The services of a professional backpacking guide, Rocky Mountain National Park permit and back-country Colorado camping permits, transportation between Boulder and the wilderness trail heads, shuttle and extra shuttle staff for traverse, all food during the backpacking trip, a re-supply drop, if necessary, gear for water purification and cooking, bear canister, tent, medical kit, CB radio and contingency and emergency support.
Not included in our rates: Meals while in the front country (breakfast on Day 1 and dinner on the last day), laundry, alcoholic beverages, hotel overnight before your trip and at trip’s conclusion; personal equipment (sleeping bag, pad, backpack – these items are available to rent), and gratuities for your guide(s) – while this is at your discretion, the recommended amount is 20%. If you want to add fly-fishing, cost is $100 extra per person (rod, reel, and flies for the trip and backpacking – angling guide)