Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rocky Mountain National Park

On Sunday, August 14, we decided to begin our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. We had both been to this park 10 years ago, but had never driven all the way through from the Grand Lake side to Estes Park. We decided to take the 60 mile drive and spend some time exploring Estes Park on this sunny Sunday afternoon. Then we would drive back in the early evening, when the wildlife viewing would be best.

We got a pretty late start after hitting church in Granby. We headed up into the park around 11. We drove to the Kawuneeche Visitor Center and watched the movie and checked out the exhibits. The movie was good, but other than buying a pin, nothing much to see.

As I wrote in my last entry, this is the most visited park of all of the National Parks. You can tell that much of their job is crowd control and trying to minimize the impact from the visitors that don't follow the rules. We saw many people trampling the alpine tundra and taking rocks and other "souvenirs". Makes me mad, but I just complain to Kim. She loves that part.;)

We stopped at the Coyote Valley trail head and took a short walk along the Colorado river. You could almost step across it at this point. We found a picnic table with a view and had a picnic lunch. We had a great view up the valley and of Mount Baker.

We then got back in the truck and headed up Trail Ridge Road. You can take a picture around almost every corner. I just love that drive. Unfortunately, the crowds were fairly large and parking at most turnouts was tough to come by, so we only made a few stops and took a few pictures.

I love mountains and these are some of the most amazing vistas anywhere in the world.

We did not see much wildlife on the first drive over the top, If you look close you can see a herd of Rocky Mountain Elk in this shot, along with a few tourists not obeying the rules.

We arrived in Estes Park and saw a wine festival going on. They wanted $40 to get in. We don't like wine that much, so we just decided to walk around town. We got an ice cream cone. There must have been 10 places selling ice cream. It is a pretty typical tourist area, but it still has a nice vibe and some nice views from right downtown.

Wine Festival
View from Downtown Estes Park
I really don't like tourist areas, but this one was not bad. Kim likes them and I have to do what she wants some of the time. I am so much better at that, then I was before we started this lifestyle. I think it is because I am very motivated to keep her happy.

We left Estes Park and headed back to the park entrance. It is about 5 miles to the entrance and in that time we saw a Rocky Mountain Sheep and a group of Turkey.

I didn't get a shot of the Sheep. Then we got a great look at a young Bull Moose.

The crowds had thinned out as we went up on Trail Ridge Road, but the lighting for pictures was not as good this time of day. I still ended up with a few shots I liked.

Longs Peak at 14,259 feet
A very friendly bird working at one of the turnouts for handouts. He had to fight the chipmunks for attention.

Lava Cliffs

This next one if my favorite moment of the day. We came upon three large Bull Elk grazing in a small meadow along the road. They were magnificent.

We saw a Moma Moose and her young calf and then another moose near where we had eaten lunch and then we exited the park.

Tough to see the Moma Moose and calf

It was a very good first day at RMNP. The crowds are starting to thin out as school goes back in session. We are looking forward to taking a few hikes and exploring more in the back country in the park. There is so much to do in this area besides going to RMNP including paddling and fishing, We will do some of that also. I will write more about all of our adventures in my next entries. Have I mentioned We LOVE the Grand Lake area?


  1. Nice post. You have me longing for the Rockies again.

  2. Hey Darrell,
    We love the Rocky Mountains. It is great to camp out on not need the AC at night. We love to get out of the RV parks and spend time in a real campground on a lake with a view of the mountains. Good luck on your next moves.