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What to wear hiking in late July?

Lewisville, Texas...
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What to wear hiking in late July?

I don't like to be cold, but I sweat like the dickens once I get going. I'll have the zip-off leg pants, so I'm good there, but what should I wear on the upper half? Assuming an 8am start (is that early enough to avoid parking lot mayhem?) would my packable rain jacket be enough? Or should I add a long sleeve thermal shirt? fleece pull-over? parka and (fake) rabbit fur gloves? or neither and just hike in a bathing suit? :)

Coming from Dallas, I'm concerned that the low humidity and 40-50 degree morning weather will feel really cold. But then once it warms up at 10am or so, I don't want to feel like a pack animal hauling half my closet up the trail.

Any suggestions?

Steamboat Springs...
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1. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

Would depend a great deal on the elevation of the hike. At the lower elevations of the park, a rain jacket could be enough. Higher up, a fleece would be recommended.

rky
Estes Park, Colorado
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for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park
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2. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

Layering is the key. Especially since the weather can be so variable in the park. The morning can start out mild and then an afternoon front can move in quickly and drop the temps significantly. Having the proper clothing for that time is important for safety reasons. Back around 2002, on a backcountry trip over the 4th of July, a front moved in and it snowed on us.

On an average July hike, I start early with a short sleeve hiking shirt. Something that wicks sweat and dries quickly - not cotton. I will have a fleece over that. If there is a stiff wind blowing, I may have my rain parka on. I carry a long sleeve thermal shirt in my day pack. Also in my pack are thin gloves and a knit cap. I like the zip-off legs on hiking pants and use those as well. If I am doing a day hike further back into the park I will also carry thermal bottoms in my day pack. The extra items are not too bulky, do not weigh a lot and will keep me very comfortable if the need arises.

As you get going and the temps rise, you can take off items as needed. It may mean that you are carrying a bit of clothing for a good portion of the hike, but you will be prepared and that is the name of the game when hiking in RMNP.

Divide, Colorado
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3. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

8 am start is way too late . nevermind the parking lot . in july you are looking at clouds moving in no later than 11 and thunderstorms starting at noon. thunderstorms can be dangerous on a mountain side - especially above tree line . by 8 am, the animals are also beginning to retreat after morning feeding . I generally get on the trail no later than an hour before sunrise.

low humidity makes the heat feel less hot and the cold less cold .

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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4. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

What you need will vary based on which hike you plan to take in RMNP. Conditions change not only due to elevation but also wind and sun exposure, the location of your hike and how long a hike you are planning. There is big difference between the hike to Emerald or Mills Lakes or the hike to Mount Ida. As spammie said, afternoon thundershowers are very common in RMNP. Low humidity does make the heat feel less hot but the radiant heat at altitude makes a lower temperature feel warmer if you are in the sun. Good sites for hiking trail information for RMNP

http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/

On the above site, note the link to "About RMNP" for information on lightning and altitude sickness.

protrails.com/area/8/rocky-mountain-national…

For the hikes like Emerald or Mills Lakes, you should be fine with just your rain jacket. I do carry a warmer long sleeve shirt in my pack just in case clouds move in so I can add a layer. If clouds move in, the temperature can drop 10-15 degrees very quickly. You will see plenty of people on the more popular shorter hikes from Bear Lake Road trailheads in shorts, tee shirts, tennis shoes and carrying nothing but a water bottle. :(

Nederland, Colorado
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5. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

As noted, wearing layers is the key.

Ultraviolet light is stronger in the mountains so be sure to wear sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.

And though you may not feel thirsty, the thin air at high elevations results in increased water evaporation from your lungs. Make sure you bring - and drink - plenty of water to prevent a bad headache or other altitude symptoms.

Edited: 2:25 pm, April 27, 2014
Windsor, Colorado
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6. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

"You will see plenty of people on the more popular shorter hikes from Bear Lake Road trailheads in shorts, tee shirts, tennis shoes and carrying nothing but a water bottle. :("

Do note the frown - I am not suggesting that anyone do this.

Add UV protectant lip balm to Babalax's list. Between the sun and the dry air, your lips will be parched and cracked without it.

Denver
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7. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

Hello, I live in Colorado and have hiked Rocky Mountain national park many times. I wouldn't expect heavy rains, however what might work best is if you could purchase one of those thin down jackets that roll up into a pocket. Then you could carry that in a small pack if you need to. Also you will probably see many hikers with thin jackets wrapped around their waste because it is warm and they do not need to warmth. I have good hiking boots, however for the trails they have at Rocky Mountain park, I have hiked in running shoes which were much more comfortable to hike in. As long as you stay on groomed trails you should be ok.

Denver
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8. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

Also I forgot your inquiry about parking lots. Yes, the earlier you arrive for parking, the better. Specifically if you want to hike up by Bear lake, as the parking there is very crowded.

I don't know how much hiking you intend to do? For first timers, I would really just recommend driving through the park and sporadically parking at various side road parking spots to do short 10-15 minute hikes. I would suggest you drive highway 34 the pass from the park which leads into Grand Lake. Stop in the small town by Grand lake, and then head back the way you came. Also I have hiked and hunted my whole life in the Rockies and have never seen a Black bear. I have heard that they are afraid of humans and will run away when they smell or hear you. You might also see some moose. Have fun. Let me know if you need anymore advice. Have fun.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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9. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

"I would suggest you drive highway 34 the pass from the park which leads into Grand Lake." That "pass" is famous Trail Ridge Road.

There are numerous overlooks and short trails along Trail Ridge Road. In summer, it takes about 90 minutes to drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake. Add 2 hours just for all the overlooks. Two easier but longer trails to consider along Trail Ridge Road are the Ute Trail to Timberline Pass (views) and Big Meadows (great for wildlife).

protrails.com/trail/461/rocky-mountain-natio…

protrails.com/trail/40/rocky-mountain-nation…

Shorter trails along Trail Ridge Road you might enjoy listed in order east to west -

Beaver Boardwalk - very short walk to meadow with nice views

Hidden Valley Nature Trail - .5 mile interpretative loop through 300-700 year old Spruce/Pine forest along a creek - nice area for wildflowers.

Tundra Communities Trail near Rock Cut - 1 mile round trip uphill interpretative trail for views, wildlife, tundra flowers and mushroom rocks (do not miss this one). It may be windy and cold even in summer.

Alpine Ridge Trail at the Alpine Visitor Center - 1/4 mile straight up steps known as the huff and puff trail.

Lake Irene - short trail to lake at the picnic area and beyond to a nice meadow overlook

Holzwarth Historic Site - 1 mile round trip trail to 1920's dude ranch and moose and elk frequent this area plus you cross the Colorado River

Coyote Valley Trail - 1 mile level loop and walks along part of Colorado River - can be warm mid-day and afternoon in summer

Adams Falls - get directions at the RMNP Kawuneeche Visitor Center. It is .3 miles to the falls but go beyond to the meadow for wildlife particularly moose and wildflowers.

If you are in RMNP on a Saturday in late July and enjoy ranger led hikes, rangers lead a 4 hour hike along the old Ute Trail across from the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road to Milner Pass. You carpool so you can take this hike downhill one way. Information for this hike will be in the park summer newspaper or at nps.gov/romo/…ranger_led_activities.htm

Windsor, Colorado
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10. Re: What to wear hiking in late July?

You are not very likely to see a black bear in RMNP. Black bear sightings are more common in Estes Park. Unfortunately, bears are attracted to human caused food sources. Past studies have shown that RMNP had a very low density population of bears. Black bears have been sighted more frequently in the last few years in RMNP and the park is now more proactive about educating people about the bears. There are more bear proof food storage lockers in RMNP campgrounds and backcountry campers must carry food canisters. On both my trips this month to RMNP, I noticed far more signs posted at trailheads and throughout the park about bears.

For day hikers, here are instructions from RMNP.

"Day use visitors parking at trailheads must store all food items and garbage by one of the following methods:

Inside vehicle trunks.

In vehicles with no trunk, such items may be placed as low in the vehicle passenger compartment as possible and covered from sight, with vehicle doors and windows closed."

From RMNP, here is information about encountering a black bear.

"What should you do if you meet a black bear? Never approach a bear. Keep children beside you. There is more safety in numbers; it is best to travel in a close group. If a bear approaches you, stand up tall, and make loud noises- shout, clap hands, clang pots and pans. When done immediately, these actions have been successful in scaring bears away. However, if attacked, fight back! Never try and retrieve anything once a bear has it. Report all incidents to a park ranger."