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What is Rocky Mountain National Park?

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  • Written By: Amanda Piontek
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2018
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Rocky Mountain National Park is a national park located in the state of Colorado. The park is comprised of approximately 265,828 acres (1,076 kmĀ²) of land, including 450 miles (approximately 241 km) of streams and 150 lakes. It is open all year, 24 hours a day, although the visitor centers and information centers have varying business hours that change with the seasons. The park offers different entrance fees to meet visitors' needs, including an annual pass, or a weekly charge per pedestrian or carload. The Rocky Mountain National Park's majestic landscape provides a host of activities and adventures including fishing, hiking, camping, biking, and more.

The park is famous for having an abundance of wildlife within its borders, and animal watching is a popular activity for tourists. Elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions all call the Rocky Mountains home, and can be found in the national park as well. Park officials caution visitors to keep a safe distance, and be educated on what to do in the event of a bear or mountain lion encounter. Those who keep watch either early in the morning or early in the evening have the greatest chance of spotting a wild animal in its natural habitat. For those who are interested in animal watching, the visitor centers of the Rocky Mountain National Park offer information regarding current active wildlife populations.

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A large portion of the Rocky Mountain National Park is designated wilderness. Wilderness is undeveloped land allowed to flourish according to its natural design. In the park, wetlands, dense forests, and hills of grass dominate the lower elevations. As a visitor gains elevation, the ecosystem changes first to the subalpine region, with knotted and distorted fur and spruce trees. Even higher elevation brings forth the harsh climate of the alpine tundra, with low, ground hugging plants, and a landscape barren of trees or tall vegetation. Visitors interested in camping overnight in the wild, back country of the Rockies can do so in designated areas of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, this National Park is naturally at a high elevation. Visitors who are not used to activities so far above sea level should take precautions and allow their bodies to acclimate to the environment before undertaking any strenuous or stressful activities. High elevation increases an individual's risk of dehydration and sunburn, and tourists should be cautious to drink plenty of fluids and apply sunscreen at regular intervals. Dizziness, nausea, and headaches are signs of mountain sickness from the high elevation, and people experiencing symptoms should descend to a more comfortable altitude.

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