Rocky Mountain Half Marathon & 5K
Traveling to Rocky Mountain
We want to help you make the most out of your vacation. Here are some helpful links and general information. We’ll be updating the links and information below over the next several months.
Denver International Airport (DEN) – Your best (and pretty much only) option to fly is Denver International Airport. Expect about a two hour drive to Estes Park. A major airport hub, you should easily be able to find a flight to this airport, as well as a rental car. Learn more on their website.
From the NORTH: If you're coming from Wyoming for example, the best way to get to the park would be to drive south on I-25 to Loveland then west on US-34 through the dramatic Big Thompson canyon to Estes Park.
From the SOUTH: If you're coming from the Denver area you have two options:
1) From the airport, the fastest route is to take I-470 to I-25. Go north on I-25 to Colorado 66, west on 66 to Lyons, continue west on US-36 to Estes Park.
2) Another route from Denver would be to take US-36 through Boulder to Estes rather than the I25 route above.
From the EAST: If you're coming from Nebraska, from the I-80 you may take I-76 to US-34 to Estes. If you're coming from Kansas on I-70 can use the I-25 - CO-66 - US-36 route.
From the WEST: You're in luck. Access from the west in the summertime is via US-34 through the National Park. That's the scenic Trail Ridge Road over the Continental Divide. It's not open in the winter, but in July it will be a beautiful drive. You could also come on I-70 from the west and take CO-6 east of Idaho Springs to the Peak to Peak National Scenic ByWay (119 to 72 to 7) that enters Estes from the south.
Where to Stay
You can find some great lodging options in Estes Park here. Find more lodging options including hotels, motels, resorts, cabin rentals, bed & breakfasts, and camping!
We've also partnered with Booking.com to help you find lodging accommodations in Estes Park:
Race HQ will be at the fairgrounds in Estes Park, CO. There will be plenty of parking near the start and finish for all runners. There will not be shuttles from around town, so please plan on driving to the start.
4:30 am – Parking opens for first starters/early morning bib pickup opens
5:15 am – National Anthem
5:30 am – Half marathon race begins (staggered start with waves assigned every 10 min.)
8:30 am – Final wave begins race
Participants will will receive a finisher medal, food box, banana, and chocolate milk upon finishing the race. We encourage your to gather your items and go explore Rocky Mountain National Park!
*Don't forget to reserve your timed entry permit
There will not be an award ceremony as we are trying to keep the crowds to a minimum– and the waves will be spread out more than normal. Those who placed in their age group will have their award medal shipped after the race.
Drive-thru Bib Pickup
When: Friday, July 30, 2021, from 1–6pm
Where: Near the Stanley Park Ball Fields, Estes Park, CO (map)
We will be doing a “drive-thru” bib pickup at the fairgrounds parking lot on Friday from 10:00am-6:00pm. Runners will be able to drive up and get their bib, race shirt, hydrapouch and Elk Double swag...without getting out of their car! This might be a little unusual but it is one of the ways we are minimizing groups congregating and making the event safer and compliant.
5K bibs will be moved to the baseball field at 4:00pm so any 5K runners who were unable to get to the drive-thru pickup can get their bib before their race. We will also have bib pickup near the ball fields Saturday morning for the Half Marathon beginning at 4:30 am.
We recommend picking up your during the drive-thru on Friday. You can also choose to have it shipped to you before race day for $20. (Limited last minute pickup will be available until 30 minutes before the race begins but we discourage it.)
Wave Start Details
In an effort to minimize groups congregating and making the event safer and compliant, runners will be segmented within their assigned wave into groups of 50 people or less. These groups will be starting every 10 minutes beginning at 5 pm for the 5K on Friday night, and 5:30 am for the half marathon on Saturday morning.
Type in your name to look up your registration.
The color of your wave will be listed next to Corral.
Once you know which wave you are in, use the chart to plan accordingly so you can park and walk over to the start line que on time.
5K Wave Start Schedule
Half Marathon Wave Start Schedule
There will be plenty of parking near the start and finish for all runners. There will not be shuttles around town, so please plan on driving to the start or having someone drop you off near the start. The race will start and finish by Lake Estes at the fairgrounds in Estes Park, CO.
There are 3 designated parking spots near the fairgrounds that are a short walk to both the start line and the finish line. Volunteers will direct traffic and show you where to park. We'll fill up the parking lots in order.
To park, come down Highway 7 and turn onto Manford Avenue toward the fairgrounds and be directed from there:
- 1Ball Fields
- 2High School, Middle School, Observatory
- 3Fairgrounds (Saturday morning only)
If you are dropping a runner off, please go to the green area on the map. Enter the drop-off area and circle out of the parking lot to exit. This will help avoid any traffic jams.
When: July 30, 2021, 5:00 pm (staggered wave start every 10 min.)
Where: The south side of Lake Estes (near the ball fields)
During race weekend, we also offer the Rocky Mountain 5K. The pricing below reflects the timed race, however you can save $5 by registering for the fun run! You’ll get the same shirt and finisher medal, but you won't be timed for the awards.
There will be one aid station on the course near the halfway point (mile 1.5). The aid station will have water, Gnarly, and bathrooms. Like the half marathon, this race will be cup-free!
When: July 31st, 5:30 am (staggered wave start every 10 min.)
Where: The south side of Lake Estes (near the ball fields)
We'll begin the race on the Lake Estes Trail around Community Drive and N St. Vrain Ave. We'll run counter-clockwise around the lake along the paved trail. When we come to Mall Rd. we'll take a left until almost 1 mile where we'll turn left back onto the lake trail. At about mile 1.5 we'll cross Big Thompson Ave through the new tunnel there.
We'll take a left onto Dry Gulch and continue for approximately 3 miles. This will be a steady uphill grade. At the end of Dry Gulch we'll make a left onto Devil's Gulch. Devil's Gulch will have some rolling hills for the next few miles, but it will mostly be downhill.
Just after mile 8 we'll take a left onto MacGregor Ave. This will be a nice flat section of the course. We'll then take a left Wonderview Ave. We will run against traffic to SW Steamer Pkwy where we will take a left and then and immediate right onto Steamer Pkwy.
We'll run with traffic on Steamer Pkwy to Steamer Dr, where will will take another right. We will then run down Steamer Dr to Big Thompson Ave. We will run along Big Thompson until we get back to the tunnel, where we will cross Big Thompson again. We'll then jump back on the Lake Estes Trail and finish running counter clockwise around the lake to the finish line which will be at the same place that we started.
All runners will have 4 hours to finish the race. That is an 18 minute mile - plenty of time for walkers! If at anytime we deem it unsafe and need to pull a runner off the course we would hope for understanding and immediate cooperation. Failure to comply will result in being banned from future events.
Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record!
The current course record holders are:
Male Overall: Brandon Yonke 1:17:37 (2015)
Female Overall: Kelsey Persyn 1:29:03 (2016)
Male Masters: Gerald Romera 1:26:59 (2015)
Female Masters: Pam Connolly 1:44:23 (2016)
Start elevation: 7,516 ft.
Max elevation: 7,934 ft.
Gain: 809 ft.
The elevation is a little tough, but it will be worth it! Besides, downhill courses are for wimps. :)
Up for an extra challenge? Try the Elk Double! Run the 5K on Friday evening and the half marathon on Saturday morning and earn extra swag!
When: July 30-31, 2021
Where: Estes Park, CO
What you get:
Elk Double medal and swag cannot be bought, it must be earned!
Just running each individual race does not qualify you for the Elk Double medal. You need to register for the Elk Double specifically.
Need to upgrade to the elk double?
>> Click "Start Transfer"
>> Choose your Event
>> Continue and complete your registration!
*if you deferred into this race or transferred from another race your race credit will be $0 and we will need to help you upgrade your event. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expect about 6 aid stations on the course at around mile 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12. A medic will be stationed typically at the aid station at or near mile 7. Keep in mind, the exact location of each aid station may vary from race to race. Aid stations include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, basic first aid supplies, and sometimes more.
All stations are cup-free so plan to bring your own hydration solution or request a free HydraPouch when you register.
Explore Rocky Mountain National Park
National Park Ticketed Entry
Rocky Mountain National Park has a new timed entry system for 2021. These reservations are based on 75% to 85% of the park’s total parking capacity, aiming to spread out visitors throughout the park. Visitors can choose between two types of timed entry reservations for Rocky Mountain National Park:
- Bear Lake Road Corridor: includes the whole corridor and access to the rest of the park (5 am to 6 pm).
- Rest of the park: All areas of Rocky Mountain National Park, except for the Bear Lake Road Corridor (9am to 3 pm).
Visitors with a Rocky Mountain timed entry permit can enter the park within two-hour windows of availability. Entry permits can be reserved on Recreation.gov starting on May 1. Tickets will be released in batches.
Clubs & Trifecta
We like to encourage our runners to get out and enjoy the area where we hold our races, so we designate certain challenging and iconic activities in the park to be a part of our official club hikes and trifecta!
*Please note: your race entry does not include fees to enter the national park. You will either need to pay an entry fee or show your existing park pass before entering Rocky Mountain National Park.
We are phasing out our Club and Trifecta hikes after the 2021 year! You can find all the Club and Trifecta hikes included as part of the Rocky Mountain Explorer Club activities list. These should be available the week before the race.
Log any of these Club Hikes in the Spark Challenges app within 7 days of the end of the race and you'll still receive a club hike medallion. Completing the the Trifecta hikes earns you an official Trifecta pin!
You can still snap a photo and share it with us on social by using #RockyMountainHalf. We love to see our runners out in the wild!
We have two hikes designated for the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon: Chasm Lake and Hallett Peak.
What do I get? Any runners that take the challenge and complete one of the designated hikes within 7 days of running the race will officially join the club, and receive a commemorative medallion! All you have to do is join the Spark Challenges app and log your completed hikes as part of the "Rocky Mountain Explorer Club".
These hikes are meant to be difficult and they can sometimes be dangerous. If you choose to attempt any of these hikes, you need to take them seriously. Please bring lots of water (more than you think you need), and bear spray.
Continental Divide Club
The Continental Divide Club is a salute the hardcore among us. To join the club, hike Hallett Peak, which just so happens to sit right on the Continental Divide. This is one the most classic hikes in the entire park, but it's super challenging.
Keep in mind, it may take you 5-6 hours to reach the summit and 2-3 hours to get back down. Bring lots of water! Hikers should leave early in the morning to avoid crowds and afternoon thunderstorms.
Chasm Lake Club
This year we're introducing a second club hike: The Chasm Lake Club. Chasm Lake is a beautiful crater lake along the Longs Peak trail. The hike is 8.4 miles roundtrip with a total elevation gain of 2,450 feet. Hikers should leave early in the morning to avoid crowds and afternoon thunderstorms.
Our race trifectas are comprised of 3 different activities. The Trifecta is meant to be challenging, but less strenuous than our club hikes. These are iconic activities inside the park that should be experienced, but are doable with children.
The 3 activities that makeup the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon Trifecta are:
- Bear Lake
- Alberta Falls
- Trail Ridge Road
You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. Same rules apply: Join the Rocky Mountain Explorer Club challenge in the Spark Challenges app within 7 days of the race - that's it! You'll automatically be sent the pin in the mail.
Bear Lake is beautiful, and incredibly easy to get to. You drive to the Bear Lake parking lot and it is a 1/4 mile to a beautiful view of the lake and Hallett Peak. The hike around the lake is beautiful and easily can be done with children. Those attempting the Hallett Peak hike will start at Bear Lake.
The hike to Alberta Falls begins from the Glacier Gorge Trail head on Bear Lake Road, located almost 8 miles from the turn-off at Highway 36. Due to the extreme popularity of the Bear Lake Road area, you may want to consider using the free park shuttle to reach the trail head during the peak tourist season. It is 1.7 miles round-trip.
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Rd. is an incredible byway that goes from Estes Park to Grand Lake, crosses the continental divide, climbs above the tree line, and offers incredible views. Our challenge to you is to drive to the top of Trail Ridge Rd and to make the short hike to the tallest peak.