Our first day in Rocky Mountain National Park was shrouded in dark gloomy clouds and cut short by an afternoon thunderstorm with wild lightning.
While we stopped at some of the scenic viewpoints, as we drove from Dinosaur National Monument through Colorado to Grand Lake then onto to Estes Park, were only able to really enjoy a few stops like: Adams Falls, Kawuneeche Visitor Center, Rainbow Curve Overlook, Milner Pass and the Continental Divide, Medicine Bow Curve, and the Beaver Ponds Boardwalk.
Beaver Ponds Boardwalk is an easy, 0.2 mile, out and back, accessible trail and wooden boardwalk that travels to an observation deck with benches on Hidden Valley Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park.
With all of the animal sightings we had while exploring the national park — elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, marmots, coyotes, and pikas — we thought that we might see beavers at the Beaver Ponds Boardwalk, but…
There are no longer beavers or beaver ponds here and the marshy area is now called the Hidden Valley Beaver Wetlands.
While it once was home to several beaver colonies whose dams blocked the flow of Hidden Valley Creek and created a series of small ponds, the beavers later moved on and abandoned the dams. Eventually the beaver dams fell apart, the ponds drained, and fertile soil was left behind. Now the wetlands area around Hidden Valley Creek is slowly turning into a lush meadow.
When we were exploring all the things to do along Trail Ridge Road, we almost missed the Beaver Ponds Boardwalk! There isn’t a big roadside pullout with views at this stop. The Hidden Valley Beaver Wetlands area simply has a wide shoulder near some wooden fencing to pull off the road and park.
Today Beaver Ponds Boardwalk is simply a short, beautiful walk through a grassy wetlands area, to a small observation deck at a gentle curve in Hidden Valley Creek. A few interpretive displays along the boardwalk provide more information about the beaver colonies who used to live here and the changes happening in the wetlands.
Beaver Ponds Picnic Area
On the Rocky Mountain National Park Map, there is a picnic symbol near the Beaver Ponds Boardwalk and Deer Ridge Junction. This is the small Beaver Ponds Picnic Area with picnic tables, fire rings, and vault restrooms.
Know Before You Go
- Beaver Ponds Boardwalk, now called the Hidden Valley Beaver Wetlands, is an easy, accessible, 0.2 mile out and back trail on a wooden boardwalk that leads to a river and the former site of beaver dams in Hidden Valley Creek. It is located off Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Trail Ridge Road is a stretch of US Highway 34 that passes through Rocky Mountain National Park, connecting the town of Grand Lake in Grand County and the town of Estes Park in Larimer County, Colorado.
- Also known as the Beaver Meadow National Scenic Byway, Trail Ridge Road runs from Deer Ridge Junction (US HWY 36 and US HWY 34) on the east side of the park to the Colorado River Trailhead on the western side of the park and snow forces its closure from mid-October to June.
- Other things to do on Trail Ridge Road include: the Holzwarth Historic Site, Farview Curve Overlook, Milner Pass and Lake Poudre, Medicine Bow Curve Overlook, the Alpine Visitor Center, Gore Range Overlook, Lava Cliffs Overlook, Rock Cut Overlook, Forest Canyon Overlook, Rainbow Curve Overlook, and Many Parks Curve Overlook.