At 14,255 feet, Longs Peak towers above all other summits in Rocky Mountain. The flat-topped monarch is seen from almost anywhere in the park. Most hikers climb Longs Peak in the summer when the moody weather is somewhat predictable. The route is normally free of snow and ice from mid-July through mid-September.
Copyright: Rocky Mountain National Park
Upper Beaver Meadows & Longs Peak
Approach: The Longs Peak Ranger Station is situated one mile off Highway 7, nine miles south of Estes Park, and is open daily during the summer from 8 am to 4:30 p.m.
The only nontechnical route up Longs Peak is the Keyhole Route. The summit is 7.5 miles from the ranger station, with an elevation gain of 4,850 feet. The six miles to the Boulderfield, where the route begins, is a strenuous hiking trail. From the Boulderfield, ascend west to the "Keyhole" where you traverse south across a steep ledge system on the west face. Ascend the "Trough", then traverse another ledge system called the "Narrows". The "Homestretch" is the final scramble to the summit. The route from the "Keyhole" to the summit is marked with yellow and red bulls-eyes painted on the rock. Time for the round trip is about 12-15 hours.
Hints for Success:
Early mornings in summer are normally calm, clear, and blue. Clouds build up in the afternoon often bringing brief, heavy storms with dangerous lightning. Begin the trek before 3 am in order to be off the summit before noon to avoid storms. If lightning occurs, get off ridges and summits.
Longs Peak Campground is located near the trailhead and is on a first-come, first-served basis. The 26-site campground is for tents only with a maximum stay of three nights during the summer season.
Backcountry Use Permit:
A permit is required for overnight trips into the backcountry. Permits are available from ranger stations in summer or the backcountry office year round. Reservations may be made starting March 1st by calling (970) 586-1242 or writing to: Backcountry Office, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO 80517. No phone reservations are accepted between May 15 and September 30. Sites are limited. There is an administrative fee for each permit.
Directions from Estes Park: Travel nine miles south on Hwy 7. Turn west to the Longs Park Ranger Station and Trailhead.