National Parks Tips

Closest Airport to Rocky Mountain National Park

girl standing at a lake
Before my trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, the first question I had was what is the closest airport to Rocky Mountain National Park? The closest airport to Rocky Mountain National Park is Denver International Airport (DEN). Denver International Airport is 76 miles away from the park, which is approximately a 1.5 hour drive. While there are technically closer airports to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Denver International Airport is the closest major airport to the park.

Although the regional airports are closer to Rocky Mountain National Park, the cost to fly into them are significantly more expensive and the number of flights can be limited. Your best bet in terms of cost and convenience is to fly into Denver International Airport and rent a car to make the drive into the park. If you fly into Denver, then you can treat Denver as a home base and also visit Roxborough State Park, Castlewood State Park, or Manitou Springs in the south.

Figuring out which airport to fly into is the first piece of the puzzle for planning your trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but other things to consider are which airline to choose, which car rental companies are available, what type of vehicle to rent, when the park is open, and which entrance to drive into, which are all answered below.

What major airlines fly into Denver International Airport?
airplane flying in blue sky

If you’ve decided on flying into Denver, there are a number of major airlines that fly into the city. The major airlines that fly into Denver International Airport are Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, Spirit, Frontier, American Airlines, and Jet Blue. With so many airlines flying into Denver this means that you can search for the best deals on flights between all of these airlines. Southwest frequently has seasonal sales, so keep an eye out for those deals as the seasons change. Personally I have flown into Denver with Southwest Airlines as they had the lowest prices and best times for my trip.

What car rental companies are at Denver International Airport?

The Denver airport also has many car rental companies to choose from. The rental companies at the Denver International Airport are Alamo Rent a Car, Dollar Rent a Car, Enterprise Rent a Car, and Fox Rent a Car. If you have a Costco membership you should look into renting a car through Costco as I have found the rates to be much cheaper than renting directly from the rental companies themselves.

Do I need to rent an off-road vehicle for Rocky Mountain National Park?
road leading into yellow and green forest

While Rocky Mountain National Park is a massive park that features colossal mountains, grand lakes, endless forests, and rough terrain, you do not need to rent an off-road vehicle for Rocky Mountain National Park. The roads around the national park are well maintained and paved. This means that you can rent a sedan or SUV for your trip and not have to worry about off-roading. There will be various trails that are on gravel roads or rough roads, but you can check with a park ranger on what the recommended vehicle clearance is for the more remote hikes.

During my visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, I was able to explore the park and hike various trails with the sedan I rented without issue. Be sure to check with your rental company on the rules if you drive your rental vehicle on a gravel road as you may only be insured for paved roads.

Is Rocky Mountain National Park open year-round?
snow covered mountain

The excitement of visiting the high altitude Rocky Mountains can be tempered by wondering if the park closes, but Rocky Mountain National Park is open year-round 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Since the park is at a high altitude that means there is a lot of snowfall on various roads, so certain roads and facilities can be closed due to seasonality and completely snowed in roads, so check with a park ranger before you make the drive to certain sections of the park.

The shuttle system in the park only operates in the summer and fall seasons. Due to the high altitude the weather can quickly change in the park, so check the weather forecast before and during your trip to adjust as it changes.

What is the best entrance for Rocky Mountain National Park?

Rocky Mountain National Park has four entrances.

There is Grand Lake entrance in the West, Wild Basin Entrance in the Southwest, and Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance in the Northeast. The best entrance for Rocky Mountain National Park is Beaver Meadows Entrance or Fall River Entrance. These two are the most popular entrances to the park. If you want to see some of the best lakes such as Bear Lake, Glacier Gorge, or Sprague Lake, then you should go to the Beaver Meadows entrance. If you want to get the iconic scenery and rive on Trail Ridge Road, then the best entrance for you is Fall River.

The Wild Basin Entrance and Grand Lake entrances are great, but not as popular due their remote locations. All four entrances and sections of the park offer great things, but most first time visitors head to Beaver Meadows or Fall River.

moose eating grass next to mountains

Located in Northwest Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to the titanic Rocky Mountains with 14,000 foot+ peaks, serene glacier lakes, gorgeous green forests, amazing wild life, and so much more. The drive from Denver International Airport is forgotten as you soak in the views from Trail Ridge Road and see the staggering peaks. This national park is absolutely wonderful and easy to get to from the Denver Airport. Have a great time and wonderful trip to Rocky Mountain National Park!