Frosty Trees on Shipler Mountain
There is a special joy that comes with visiting Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter. This heavenly place, crawling with crowds in the summer, becomes a peaceful, snowy sanctuary in the winter. Nestled deep in thick Twelver territory near the headwaters of the Colorado River, Shipler Mountain is moderately easy to reach in the winter and serves up a lot of bang for the buck.
Shipler Mountain is not one of the grander or more dramatic mountains in this park full of alpine rock stars. But set among mountains topping out more than one thousand feet above, Shipler Mountain serves as the perfect little viewing station to take in miles and miles of alpine eye candy. To stand on the bare summit of Shipler Mountain and swivel about, marveling at the scenery, is to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of alpine adventure awaiting the visitor to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Fall River Pass
Trails Illustrated Map:
#200 Rocky Mountain National Park
Rank and Prominence Reference: Lists of John
Shipler Mountain is in the far northwestern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). RMNP is in north-central Colorado. Denver is the nearest major city with an international airport, and the winter trailhead for Shipler Mountain (Timber Lake Trailhead) is about 2 hours from Denver. To the east is Fort Collins, and to the northeast is Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Specimen Mountain to the northeastRocky Mountain National Park
Many regulations govern your use of this National Park. Regulations include:
• Pets are not allowed on trails or in the backcountry. Leashed pets (leash 6 feet or shorter) are allowed only in vehicle accessible areas (e.g. roadsides, campgrounds, parking lots, etc.)
• Camp in designated areas only. Backcountry camping requires a permit.
• The individual automobile entrance fee is $20, valid for seven consecutive days beginning the day of purchase.
Specimen Mountain framed by trees
Specimen Mountain Research Natural Area
Shipler Mountain sits within a special land management area and special regulations apply.
• No camping is permitted in this area.
• Season closures affect some trails in the area in the summer for Big Horn Sheep lambing, specifically the Crater Trail to the east of Shipler Mountain. It is recommended you check with a ranger regarding the status of area closures before setting out for the summit of Shipler Mountain from the east.
Camping & Lodging
Mount Cumulus at center Westward along the summit ridge
Timber Creek Campground
The nearest front-country c ampground to Shipler Mountain is Timber Creek Campground, operated by the National Park Service.
• Roughly 2 miles north of the Timber Lake Trailhead
• 98 campsites
• Open year-round
• First-come, first-served (no reservations)
• $20 night when water is on / $14 per night when water is off
Grand Lake Lodging
A few hotels, inns and cabins are available for rent in nearby Grand Lake, Colorado. Visit the Trip Advisor Page
for Grand Lake for more information on lodging in this area.
Weather & Seasons
The Kawuneeche Valley Ascending the ridge Specimen Mountain from the Shipler summit ridge To the west from the summit of Shipler MountainShipler Mountain is an easily-accessible, year-round peak.
Winter is a peaceful time to visit Shipler Mountain. Expect deep snow in the timbered areas and bitter cold wind above timberline, but the payoff is solitude and eye-popping views.
Spring would bring rotten pillows of snow and a lot of post-holing, but warmer, sunny days.
In summer, Rocky Mountain National Park is crawling with visitors and crowded. Once off-trail heading toward the Shipler Mountain summit you should find some privacy, but expect limited parking and a lot of road noise from Trail Ridge Road sight-seers.
Autumn brings crisper air, and more slender crowds, plus golden aspen leaves and bugling elk.
Looking down the Colorado River Drainage from the summit of Neota Mountain.
Shipler Mountain rises above the valley to the left.
Photo by Mountain Jim