It is always wonderful to have people visit and show them around our beautiful area. Our family was very lucky to host our friend from The Dominican Republic in our home this summer. Like all good hostesses we would like to show her the best of Northern Colorado.
Therefore, we went to Rocky Mountain National Park…so I asked myself…”why do I not come up here more often!” Rocky Mountain National Park is a gem…people travel 100’s and 1000’s of miles to visit our amazing Nation Park. We are so blessed because it is literally just outside our back door. The park itself consist of 415 square miles and protects our mountain environment for people to enjoy. There are over 300 miles of hiking trails and 5 different camping grounds within the park. Some of the camp sites are reservation only, while others are first come first serve. There are two points to enter Rocky Mountain National Park, one is Estes Park and the other is Grand Lake.
Trail Ridge Road crosses Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park on the east to Grand Lake on the west it spans a distance of 48 miles. Trail Ridge Road crosses over the Continental Divide cresting at an elevation of 12,183…this is quite high!
As we drove up Trail Ridge we all just kept saying…how beautiful the mountains are and the views. We travel from the entrance on the Estes Park side through the vast forest and up to the arctic tundra. The drive is amazing and the day we drove it was perfect. Even in the summer it is actually quite cool out so I advise packing a light jacket. In the mountains the weather can change quite quickly so one should always be aware of changing weather patterns. During the summer months we often have afternoon showers move in with little notice.
The drive is slow which allows all to enjoy the majestic surroundings. There are many pull offs to stop at which I recommend. Once one stops it is possible to really appreciate the sweeping views of the Colorado Rockies. Just take your time and take it all in…it is special. For our drive in late summer the trees were just starting to give a hint of the fall colors to come, soon the Aspen trees will all turn various colors of bright yellow before dropping their leaves for the winter.
Just over the top of the mountain ridge is The Alpine Visitors Center. Once parked visitors can hike to the top of a small short trail to take a picture with a sign that reads: Elevation 12,006 above sea level. It is sure fun and all that make the hike seem to enjoy taking their picture next to the sign…including us! This trail is short and easy, but it is at an extreme elevation so do not under estimate its difficulty, especially for those who are not used to the lack of oxygen!!! For some it might be best to just enjoy the view from the visitors center.
Next, we head back down the trail to the visitors center. The Alpine Visitors Center is filled with information about the park with parks employees there to answer questions. There is a place to have lunch, grab a cup of coffee, and buy a souvenir. We bought Coffee, Hot Chocolate, and Rocky Mountain Nation Park baseball hats.
Every time I head into the park I always say to myself…we need to do this more often, I do not head up here often enough. The park is amazing and well worth the trip into the mountains. I have now made a promise to myself to come up more often and not just when we have company.
Helpful Hints: If you are on active duty in the military…show your Active Duty ID and you will get into the park for free…actually, all National Parks are free to Active Duty Military.
Bring a camera, stop, and get out of your car, truly take the time to enjoy the drive. There are multiple little hikes one can take right off of Trail Ridge Road…pack a picnic and take a hike on your drive. I think you will remember it forever.
If one is having an issue with the elevation or would like to avoid having an issue with the elevation…they say to drink a lot of water and this will help.
Finally, remember Wild Animals are wild so keep your distance…you just never know.