October 2008, Blake and I ventured out west to the Colorado Rockies to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. While we didn’t stay at a bed and breakfast while in Estes Park we did stay at a very nice place called Estes Park Condos at Creekside in a one bedroom spa suite. (http://www.estescondos.com/creekside/index.html) I highly recommend this option as it was nice to come home at night to your own kitchen and then to take a bath to soothe the aching muscles from hiking all day. We had a nice view of Fall River out our window and you could hear the river rushing by, which is always peaceful. [While the staff doesn’t serve breakfast, they do offer the option of renting movies to take back to your room. ]
We started out our first morning by taking the road into Rocky Mountain National Park from the East Entrance in Estes Park. Staying at Creekside, it was nice that the gates were just one mile up the road. We stayed on Trail Ridge Road, a road that boasts being the highest continuous highway in the United States reaching an elevation of 12,183 ft. Because it was the fall, the Aspen trees were flaunting their golden colors. We were also just in time for the elk mating season where the male elk make a bugling sound to attract the females. This sound can be heard for miles and can be quite eerie.
As we traveled further up Trail Ridge Road, the trees soon vanished as we reached the tree line and we entered into an almost desolate looking ecosystem called arctic tundra.
You have to be prepared for all sorts of weather in the mountains. Despite it only being the beginning of October, I was wearing long underwear underneath my jeans. I also had on a fleece and kept a down vest and gloves in the back of the car. This turned out to be a great idea, because as we traveled into higher elevations it became very cold. We first experienced rain, and as we approached the Alpine Visitor Center, it had started to snow a wet snow. By the time we reached Milner Pass and the Continental Divide, it was threatening a thunderstorm and once we reached Lake Irene it started to fiercely hail.
We didn’t make it to the other side of the park where Grand Lake is, which was ok. So we headed back to the lower elevations where the elk were residing. You can’t miss where the elk are because normally plenty of cars are pulled off to the side of the road to view them. As in our case, the rangers were out preventing people from getting too close to the animals. And it was quite awesome to witness the bugling of the male elks.
I’d go back to RMNP in a heartbeat. There is something very majestic about the Rocky Mountains that I love. It is very serene and quiet and just very beautiful. However, I hope to continue my journey in visiting a few more national parks before returning to this one.