The Continental Divide Trail through Rocky Mountain National Park

The Continental Divide Trail through Rocky Mountain National Park

The Great Continental Divide is the hydrological divide that separates water drainages across the United States. On the west side of this mountainous divide, water drains to the Pacific Ocean; to the east, water drains to the Gulf of Mexico. The divide runs roughly along the Rocky Mountain range from northern Montana to southern New Mexico, and passes through Rocky Mountain National Park and right past Grand Lake.


The Continental Divide Trail through RMNP and Grand Lake

One of the most famous features of the Continental Divide is the Continental Divide Trail, a trail that runs continuously along the divide for some 3,100 miles. Like the divide, the trail runs right through RMNP and Grand Lake, with several trail options for day hikers and thru hikers alike.

The Continental Divide Trail through Rocky Mountain National Park consists of a 30-mile stretch through sub-alpine forests and over high tundra, traversing elevations between roughly 8,000-11,500 feet. The route enters the park through the Never Summer Wilderness, and consists of two alternate routes: a “short” loop along the Green Mountain Trail and the Tonuhutu Creek Trail; and a “long” loop meandering east along Flattop Junction, and then south and west along the North Inlet Trail toward Grand Lake. The long loop provides especially scenic views of the divide and of the park’s mountain peaks above treeline. For a map of the Continental Divide Trail through Rocky Mountain National Park, click here.


Since pets are not allowed on park trails, an alternate route is available for thru-hikers with pets. This route bypasses the park along County Road 491 and U.S. Highway 34 through Grand Lake to the Arapaho Bay Road, where it rejoins the trail south of the park.

Remember, a backcountry permit is required for overnight trips. Call 970-586-1242 or stop by the backcountry office at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center for permits or for more info about backcountry camping. Fires are only permitted at designated campsites, and stream or lake water should be treated or boiled before consuming.

Of course, Grand Lake has long been a resource for Continental Divide Trail hikers. Day hikers can begin and end a CDT adventure in Grand Lake, and thru-hikers are invited to stop in Grand Lake to stock up on food and trail supplies. Grand Lake also offers lodging, restaurants and groceries, outfitters, and everything else you need for a Continental Divide Trail adventure – contact us at the Chamber for more info!

To contact the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, call 970-627-3402.