The landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park is the steepest in the United States. Sixty mountain peaks over 12,000 feet high result in world-renown scenery and provide challenges for hikers and climbers. The extreme topography creates an amazing range of ecological zones within a short distance, similar to the changes that would be seen in a drive from Denver to northern Alaska.
The terrain here is so high and rugged and the weather so harsh that the early French trappers and the Spanish explorers before them skirted the current park boundaries in their wilderness explorations. Even Major Stephen H. Long and his expedition in 1820 was never closer than 40 miles to the peak named for him.
The U.S. government acquired Rocky Mountain Park's original 358.5 square miles in the huge Louisiana Purchase of 1803. On January 26, 1915 during Woodrow Wilson's presidency, Rocky Mountain National Park came into being. It has since grown to more than 415 square miles, with an additional 465 acres comprising Lily Lake added to the park in 1990.
All images copyright Beth and Tony Maxey 2006. Images may not be copied or reproduced without permission.