Longs Peak is one of Colorado’s most famous “fourteeners” – peaks that top out at over 14,000 feet in elevation. It’s a climb that many people have aspired to over the years, and is synonymous with climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park.
This challenging route requires stamina because it has an elevation gain of 4,850 feet, and is eight miles one way. Time for the round trip averages 10-15 hours. It was the choice of celebrated British adventuress Isabella Bird in 1873, but today the way to scramble through the boulder field is marked with yellow and red bullseyes.
At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak towers above all other summits in the Park. It’s more than just a hike, though. It’s a big mountain experience that shouldn’t be underestimated – safety and preparation are essential.
Acclimate to the altitude before starting out. In the summertime – the season when thousands hike or climb to Longs’ summit – early mornings break calm, clear and blue. Clouds build in the afternoon sky, often exploding in storms of brief, heavy rain, thunder and dangerous lightning. Begin the trek early, by 3 am to be off the summit by 10am and back in the car before the weather turns.