Established in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park became
the 10th National Park in the United States. Covering
416 square miles, the Park has over 114 named peaks towering
over 10,000 feet, 147 lakes (50 with fish in them) and
populations of bear, bighorn sheep, coyote, deer, elk,
moose and mountain lion.
Located roughly 65 northwest of Denver, the Park
sees over 3 million visitors each year. Of course,
some of those numbers are locals that live close enough
to visit several times a week, but the Park receives
visitors from all over the world each year.
Rocky Mountain National Park also has the highest
paved highway in the United States; Trail Ridge Road.
Cresting over 12,183 feet, this road is only open from
Memorial Day through late September. When the heavy
snows begin to make it too difficult to keep open,
this easy access to the Western Slope of the Continental
Divide is closed. From the eastern portal near Estes
Park to the western portal near Grand Lake is approximately
Sitting high above the surrounding areas, the Park
hosts the headwaters to the Colorado River, the Big
Thompson River, the Cache La Poudre River and the St.
Vrain Creek. There are a myriad of lakes and small
streams that feed these drainages, and most hold fish.
In fact, within the boundaries of the Park you can
- Colorado River Cutthroat Trout
- Greenback Cutthroat Trout
- Brown Trout
- Brook Trout
- Rainbow Trout
The one trout you may not recognize on that list
is the Greenback Cutthroat Trout. By 1937, this fish
was on the verge of following its cousin, the yellowfin
cutthroat trout, into extinction. However, two small
populations were discovered in the South Fork of the
Poudre River and in Como Creek, which provided brood
stocks for hatcheries.
Through the combined efforts of the BLM, Colorado
State University, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Colorado
Division of Wildlife, the Greenback Cutthroat can
now be found in streams throughout the Park and Northern
Equipment for the Park can range from a 0-wt to a
5-wt, and tippets from 3x to 7x. Overall, an experienced
fly fisherman can do well with a short (7 1/2 to 8
1/2 foot), 3 or 4 weight rod, and 5x tippets. The fish
will run from 5 to 15 inches, with an occasional surprise
from a 20+ inch trout. Flies are best between #14-22.
You can wet wade many of the streams during July and
August, and some of the smaller streams you can easily
fish from one bank or the other, hopping across to
free a fly that is caught in a downed log.