The Rocky Mountains are a region of the world that attracts visitors from around the globe, but for those of us living in the U.S. and Canada, it’s an area that can sometimes be overlooked since it’s situated right in our backyards.
The Rocky Mountains extend 3,000 miles, from the northern tip in British Columbia to the southern tip in New Mexico. It’s a sought-out destination by adventure seekers, nature lovers, adrenaline junkies, and those who are looking to get off the grid and indulge in the great outdoors.
If you’re looking to visit this unique destination and disconnect from the distractions of the outside world, consider the following tips and advice for how to spend a week off the grid in the Rockies.
Travel To The Rockies During Off-Season
While summer is arguably the best time to visit the Rockies since most of the snow has melted and conditions are more ideal for hiking and partaking in other outdoor attractions, visiting the Rockies during summer will mean larger crowds, making it difficult to have an off-the-grid experience.
Consider visiting the Rockies in spring or fall when temperatures are rather mild and the changing of the seasons results in unparalleled scenic beauty. You’ll be visiting during a time when there are fewer tourists, maximizing your off-the-grid adventure and ensuring time for solitude in the Rockies.
Go Into Airplane Mode
Considering how much we rely on our phones this day and age, turning off your cell service or going into airplane mode for a week might sound a bit intimidating, or even unrealistic. You might have obligations that require cell service, but if you can manage to put these on hold during a week off the grid in the Rockies, the reward will be liberating.
If you’re worried about going completely off the grid in the Rockies by turning off your cell service, consider downloading some apps you can use with Wi-Fi in order to stay connected if absolutely necessary. WhatsApp is a fantastic app for calling, texting, and video chat. You can go into airplane mode and still use WhatsApp when you have a Wi-Fi connection. Turning off your cell service and using WhatsApp with Wi-Fi will help limit your cell phone usage.
Alternatively, leave your cell service on but limit your browsing and use of apps. You’ll be able to receive calls and texts without getting sucked into email or scrolling. Either of these options will help keep you in tune with nature and the stunning scenery that surrounds you while in the Rockies.
Plan Hikes In These Remote Areas
Bow Valley Provincial Park
If you’re visiting the Canadian Rockies and heading from Calgary to Banff National Park, make a pit stop at Bow Valley Provincial Park, located along the Trans-Canada Highway.
Bow Valley Provincial Park has 18 different trails equipped for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The park also has a large playground, making it an ideal destination for the whole family.
The park is home to Bow Valley Amphitheatre, which offers a wide variety of entertainment during summer months. Flora and fauna found at Bow Valley Provincial Park include lady slipper orchids, hummingbirds, mountain chickadees, and mule deer.
Lulu City, Colorado
Lulu City is an abandoned ghost town in Rocky Mountain National Park that features a 7.5-mile round-trip hiking trail. The area is surrounded by lush forests and calming meadows along the Colorado River.
Established in 1879, Lulu City was a booming mining settlement before it was abandoned just a few short years later. Along the nearly 8-mile Lulu City hike, visitors can gaze upon tumbledown cabins and appreciate wildlife including deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, marmots, and chipmunks.
Never Summer Wilderness
With nearly 20 miles of hiking trails, Never Summer Wilderness is a lesser-known destination that can be reached via Estes Park or Grand County on the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Established in 1980, this 21,000-acre wilderness park ranges in elevation from 8,900 to 12,520 feet. Never Summer Wilderness is home to four major cloud-kissed peaks, aptly named Cirrus, Cumulus, Stratus, and Nimbus.
Never Summer Wilderness is known for gracing Trail Ridge Road with famed mountain views including forested ridges and steep tundra. With an array of wildlife throughout, this wilderness area is teeming with wood frogs, pygmy shrews, and even wolves.
Consider These Off-The-Beaten-Path Accommodations
Storm Mountain Lodge, Banff National Park
If you’re visiting the Canadian Rockies and are looking to spend time in in renowned Banff National Park, consider reserving a rustic cabin at Storm Mountain Lodge.
Constructed in 1922, Storm Mountain Lodge was originally one of eight bungalow camps built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in order to promote tourism in the Canadian Rockies. While the lodge has grown significantly over the years, some of its original lodges and bungalows are still available.
A true off-the-grid experience, Storm Mountain Lodge doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, telephones, televisions, coffee pots, or other modern amenities, forcing its guests to cut down on the chatter and enjoy the great outdoors. This completely self-sufficient lodge supplies its own water and generates its own power.
The lodge offers guests delicious home-cooked meals in the lodge dining room and lounge, along with packed lunches for hikers and take-out and take-in dining. That said, indoor and outdoor cooking by guests is prohibited in order to avoid attracting wild animals.
Baldpate Inn, Estes Park
Situated adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and just seven miles from Estes Park, the Baldpate Inn was built in 1917, and it’s invited guests to indulge in its quaint and cozy accommodations for more than 100 years.
Unparalleled views, an intriguing history, and delicious food are just a few things offered at Baldpate Inn, along with a friendly staff, the world’s largest key collection, and live theater entertainment.
Open each year from Memorial Day weekend until mid-October, the Baldpate Inn features bed and breakfast-style lodging that includes three-course breakfasts and complimentary bedtime snacks. Guest rooms and cabins are thoughtfully decorated in mountain country style and offer stunning views of the surrounding area.
Yurt Village At Snow Mountain Ranch
For a truly unique lodging experience in the Colorado Rockies, consider renting a yurt at the YMCA of the Rockies — Snow Mountain Ranch.
Surrounded by miles of wide-open space, the yurts at Snow Mountain Ranch can sleep up to six people, featuring one queen bed and two bunked beds. The yurts aren’t heated and are best rented during spring, summer, or fall months. This property will appeal to family travelers as it offers cribs available for rent and has luggage carts, nearby parking, a nearby bathhouse, and handicapped-accessible yurts.
Pets are allowed on-site at a rate of $25 per pet per night.
Going camping is undeniably one of the best ways to go off the grid in the Rockies, allowing you to get a feel for living off the land, cooking your own food, singing around a campfire, and sleeping under the stars.
If you’re heading to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Aspenglen, Glacier Basin, and Moraine Parks all have their own campgrounds available for reservations during summer months. These popular campgrounds offer firewood and ice for sale and also have food storage lockers, trash and recycling collection, amphitheaters, on-site staff, potable water, and flush toilets.
Map Out Your Route … With An Actual Map
I remember taking road trips with my family back when we only had one thing to rely on to navigate our way across the country: a good, old-fashioned paper map.
If you’re driving to the Rockies and want to have an authentic off-the-grid experience that begins before you arrive, consider purchasing a map and routing your way before hitting the road. While you may get lost once or twice, doing things the old-fashioned way will give you an appreciation for technology — and a respite from it — and may even take you to some incredible areas you wouldn’t have seen had you let your phone lead you along the fastest route.
What else do you need for a wonderful off-the-grid experience? A few great reads! Find inspiration from these seven must-read books that incite travel, or pack a couple of these top travel books.