A. Estes Park B. Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park is the small town outside of Rocky Mountain National Park where all of the tourists stay. It's alright, but I wasn't particularly impressed with it. The entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is only about 10 minutes away, but it's a completely different world.
The first destination we went to was the Tundra Communities Trailhead. This area was really beautiful. We had beautiful 360 views of 12,000 and 13,000 foot snow covered peaks all around us and it was a good opportunity to see the alpine tundra plants more closely.
The alpine tundra is the area above the treeline. The plants here are really small because of the harsh conditions. They take a long time to grow and are very fragile, so you are not supposed to step off the trail because you might damage them. Bill and I unfortunately witnessed several people and their children completely disregarding the signs that advised of this :/.
Some of the beautiful mountain peaks.
This was a pretty cool memorial. You had to climb up the trail and up some boulders to see it (no small feat at around 12,000 feet. Ginger gum!). It's called a mountain index. It shows the distances to the different national parks and tall peaks in the country.
This is the plaque that tells about it.
The view of the trail from on top of the boulders.
A panoramic shot I took.
Some of the tundra foliage. I was very excited to find the flowers.
These giant "mushroom" rocks were just very cool.
I'm not sure what the story is behind these rocks. Maybe ancient...aliens??
This was a cool glacier melt lake near the road.
Bill and I drove further down the road to a view point.
It looks all pretty and calm in these pictures.
In reality the wind was trying to blow me away!
A panorama I managed to take.
I took these as we drove down into the subalpine region. The trees weren't very tall here and were pretty windblown.
The Colorado River. In the Rockies! It's much smaller here.
After visiting Alaska and seeing no moose and visiting Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and seeing no moose, we finally saw Moose!!! It was early in the season, so none of the males had antlers, but I was still totally excited.
A beautiful lake that the moose were all grazing by. If I were a moose, I'd hang out here too.
The trees in Rocky Mountain National Park have really been hit by the bark beetle. This is what the forest looked like throughout the entire park.
Closer to the lake.
Bill and I decided to take a small loop trail down the road. The trail was pretty deserted. Suddenly, Bill and I came upon a moose by the side of the trail.
Then we realized it was a mom with a baby.
They were totally unfazed by us, but then another noisier group walked up and they bolted.
Farther down the loop trail.
After taking the loop trail, Bill and I had planned to take another trail on the other side of the road, but it was, in fact, on fire so that didn't work out. This was also the week that the really bad fire happened in Colorado Springs (150 miles away). Instead, Bill and I checked out the visitor's center and then took a drive down by a lake outside of the park.
Some pretty trees and flowers by the lake.
After driving by the lake, we drove back through the park to try and see more wildlife.
We were impressed by the antlers on this elk.
In order to get back to Estes Park, we had to drive back through the tundra area.
We stopped at this beautiful spot on our way out of the park to take pictures of the deer.
They seem so delicate in comparison to the elk.
It looks fake.
Some pretty flowers by the parking lot.
I couldn't resist taking pictures of the elk in the flowers.
Once we made our way into Estes Park, these guys were here to greet us. They decided that the bike lane was actually the elk lane.
That night, Bill and I decided to go out for dinner in Estes Park. After being turned away from one restaurant because they were re-doing the carpet that night (What??), we found this AMAZING barbecue place in Estes Park called Smokin' Daves. It was very tasty. Bill still talks about it!
The next morning, Bill woke me up early (we all know how that goes) to take some reflection pictures at Bear Lake in the park. It was beautiful, but I didn't bring a warm enough jacket and I was still waking up, so I was grumpy.
I liked this little babbling brook winding its way through the dark forest.
After bear lake, Bill and I decided to walk down another trail in the area.
A pretty flower along the way.
A bridge on the trail went over this beautiful stream.
This is some information about the cycle of the bark beetle in the park:
A pretty meadow.
We found this awesome car in the parking lot of the Fall River Visitor Center.
We also came across a man who was filming coyote pups at their den with a huge lens (I think Bill was jealous!)
The coyote pups hid for a while, so I took a picture of this bird.
This is a compilation video I made of the videos I took in Rocky Mountain National Park. I used Fleetwood Mac for the music because we heard Fleetwood Mac constantly on the radio the entire time we were in Colorado. Make sure to change the quality of the video to HD if your connection will support it.
Check back for day 7!