The Three Types of Rocky Mountain National Park Hikers

After three summer hiking seasons in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), it is has become very clear to me that tourists and park frequenters alike have specific preferences for the hikes they choose to do. While there are a plethora of hiking destinations, there are three primary types of hikers in the park that you might run (or rather, hike) into in RMNP.

By: Lysianne Peacock + Save to a List

Originally published at


This person takes on two main forms: (1) they are either wearing their Osprey pack that they rave about because of the All Mighty Guarantee charging past the casual hikers with their state of the art trekking poles or (2) they are wearing a hydration pack and running up the mountain like the crazy person they are as the go for the Mummy Kill or the Longs Peak Grand Slam. They are coming down the trail when most hikers begin their much more mellow hikes. Peak baggers are the hardcore, serious hikers we all wish we could be but are glad we are not because let’s be honest, hiking mountains is painful.


The lake lovers truly have hiking in RMNP figured out. They know that while peak bagging brings you satisfaction from completion, they also know that hiking to alpine lakes is much more enjoyable. There is something about a body of water being surrounded by mountains that brings a feeling of peace and serenity, and less pain. Please don’t confuse Bear Lake visitors with this category (those are tourists). Lake lovers have a laid back attitude but don’t let that fool you into thinking they aren’t true hikers. They strive to find a lake they have not visited yet in the park and are passionate about which ones are their favorite. These hikers come prepared with the best snacks and a hammock to relax in the trees surrounding their lake destinations.


Waterfall wanderers typically consist of tourists and people who consider strolls in the park a hike. While there are a few waterfall hikes in the park that are not for the faint of heart and weak of body, most of the waterfalls are easily accessed by a simple hike with almost no elevation gain. You can identify a waterfall wanderer by their lack of proper gear. Typically they won’t have a pack and instead will be carrying a water bottle. They also travel in packs, not understanding the rules of trail etiquette.

What type of RMNP hiker are you? Do you enjoy mountain summits, relaxing scenery at lakes, the rushing water of a waterfall or a combination of these three? 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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