After visiting Boulder, CO and a great visit with some friends in Longmont, CO, we pressed on to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. The town of Estes Park is an adorable town and very tourist friendly with lots of ice cream and souvenir shops. We took advantage of that to procure some huckleberry ice cream and delicious caramel apples.
Our campsite featured a herd of elk that made our stay quite exciting. Once we entered the National Park our first destination was Trail Ridge Road. It provides amazing views of the alpine tundra zone with the highest point at 12,183 feet above sea level. Up there even hikes of short distances got us winded. We just happened to be there on closing day for two of the four visitor centers and we visited both of the closing centers before they shut down for the winter. The road itself is due to close in the next week.
Along the way we encountered a herd of grazing big horn sheep.
The spectacular vistas at the highest points of the road are breathtaking.
After our drive on Trail Ridge Road, we dropped the car at a visitor center and took a bus to Bear Lake. The road to this trailhead is closed to most traffic due to road repair work but they offer a bus system to take hikers out to this popular destination.
We encountered a few herds of elk through the park area.
I loved watching the beautiful magpie birds all over the park. We watched one clever magpie who figured out the easy meal solution of eating bugs out of grills on cars as they pull into the lot.
This was our first National Park in 2012 and it was a good one. We’d like to come back and do some longer hikes when it’s a bit warmer, it gets really windy and cold on top of the mountains.