Longs Peak

Rocky Mountain National Park
Drivetime
1 Hr 30 Min
FROM DENVER
DIFFICULTY
Challenging
5,050 ft gain
LENGTH
15 Mile
Out & Back
TAKE ME TO THE TRAILHEAD
NEW YORK WEATHER
WHAT YOU'LL SEE
Peaks
Peaks
Rapids/Creeks
Rapids/Creeks
Wildflowers
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Wildlife
THINGS TO DO

Climb Iconic Longs Peak!

The tallest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. An iconic Colorado mountain. An epic adventure. Summiting Longs Peak is summed up perfectly in its name: long. This adventure should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers, and those in good physical shape. Longs is no joke, with miles of uphill hiking before you even reach the technical climbing stuff, this is certainly not a 14er for beginners. For recommended first 14ers, check HERE.

I will describe the keyhole route here, which includes class 3 scrambling. (Scrambling or un-roped climbing. You must use your hands most of the time to hold the terrain or find your route. This may be caused by a combination of steepness and extreme terrain.) Again, make sure you are properly prepared for this one. Helmets are recommended to protect yourself from rockfall. Check the weather multiple times before your ascent, weather is notoriously bad on Longs. Start your climb SUPER early in the morning to beat the chance of afternoon storms. Hitting the trail around 2:30AM is advisable. Only about 47% of those who attempt to summit Longs actual make it to the top. Weather, starting too late, fitness levels, and more cause more than half of people to turn back before the summit. The National Park Service keeps track of conditions on Longs HERE. Always know conditions before attempting to summit.

Now that the scary part is out of the way, this adventure is WORTH IT! With good planning and some experience on a mountain, you will make it! And it will be so, so rewarding!

You begin with a long, slow descent through the forest which you will most likely be doing in the dark with a headlamp. Be sure to follow the signs to Longs Peak/the boulderfield. As you come upon the boulderfield you will begin to see the keyhole up on the mountain (Righthand side of the photo below). Note, there are bathrooms in the boulderfield.

Ascending to the iconic keyhole is where the climbing and fun begins!

On the other side of the keyhole, things can get windy and quite cold, out of the sun. But, you will be greeting with gorgeous sweeping views of Rocky Mountain National, and many of its gorgeous mountain lakes! Right after the keyhole, you will be met with the ledges. This is a fairly narrow .4 mile trek. Keep an eye out for red and yellow bullseyes, marking the route.

After completing the ledges you will find yourself in the bottom of the trough. This is a 600 ft climb up a fairly steep, rock filled gulley. This is one of the more tiring sections of the climb. Make sure to stop and take breaks when needed. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery and adventure you are on! Below is a photo looking up the trough from below.

At the top of the trough is one of the more difficult parts of the climb. There is a large boulder to climb over, but no serious exposure. After climbing out of the trough, you will be on the narrows. It is a narrow .2 mile ledge across the South face of Longs, and does have some exposure. However, it is not as bad as it sounds, the ledges never get more narrow than about 3 feet.

Upon turning a corner, you will see the homestretch. You are almost there! The homestretch is a steep .2 mile class 3 climb with a lot of exposed granite. You will need to use all fours for most of this last scramble to the summit. The picture below makes it look more steep than it actually is.

Upon reaching the top, congratulate yourself for a job well done. Well, half done, climbing down does take a long time and a lot more energy. Take a long rest on the summit and enjoy the immense beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park from its highest peak!

THINGS TO DO
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GETTING THERE
Mountain landscape

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