An Easy Rocky Mountain Summit: Deer Mountain
Deer Mountain Trailhead
National Park: Rocky Mountain
Rocky Mountain National Park protects some of our country’s most magnificent alpine scenery. With a visitor center that tops out at over 2 miles above sea level, much of the Park’s hiking brings visitors to elevations that far surpass those at home. Thus, when traveling to Rocky Mountain, altitude sickness should be taken seriously so that you aren’t left weak and nauseous for the majority of a valuable week-long vacation. Altitude sickness can be easily avoided by drinking extra water, getting full nights of sleep and gradually rising in elevation (when possible). Most importantly, take things slow and set aside the first couple of days to do less strenuous activities while you acclimate to your new surroundings.
The Deer Mountain Summit is an excellent way to ease yourself into Rocky Mountain’s hiking because the trail climbs gradually at a low altitude, yet still offers excellent views of the area’s lush valleys. The journey to the peak winds through groves of pine forest full of birds and other Rocky Mountain fauna. The summit, only three miles from the trailhead, treats even casual hikers to panoramic views of the Park’s peaks and glacier-carved valleys. You can also look down on Estes Park, the quaint adjacent tourist town, while eating your lunch on a boulder. Though, beware of thieving rodents that will go to any length necessary to snag a bite of your beef jerky or a granola bar. Always remember it is illegal to feed wildlife or litter (even biodegradable apple cores) in the national parks. These rules are crucial to maintaining the Park’s environmental integrity and ensure you don’t have an unpleasant run-in with a deceivingly cute animal.
Leisurely hikes such as Deer Mountain, where you can relax and take in your surroundings, allow visitors to discover the ultimate joys of being outdoors. There is wonder in the details of the natural world. It can be fascinating to watch a robin systematically peck at the ground for worms or feel how a piece of sandstone crumbles effortlessly in your hands. These experiences are hugely valuable and should not be overshadowed by the thrill of beating sundown on a full-day hiking challenge. In this way, taking time to adjust to the high altitudes also allows visitors to appreciate the full breadth of Rocky Mountain’s wonders.