Our Final Day in CO: a Drive Through Rocky Mountain National Park

>> Monday, July 11, 2016

In a post last week, I shared lots of fun photos from a hike at Horsetooth Mountains near Fort Collins. Here are some photos from the next day when we went to Rocky Mountain National Park:

On the edge of the Roosevelt National Forest.

Big Thompson River rolling down from the Rockies.

A noisy little waterfall along Big Thompson River.

The scale of these rocks was amazing.

Final stop before entering Rocky Mtn National Park.

We were on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park on LITERALLY THE BUSIEST DAY OF THE YEAR. It was a 3-day weekend because of July 4th, Saturday was rainy, Monday was the 4th, so Sunday would be the busy day. And we were in the middle of their 6-week growing season meaning that everyone would be coming to see park flowers in bloom at altitude. The 5-mile drive from Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park was BUMPER-TO-BUMPER, and the last 2-3 miles took 40+ minutes. We were prepared for it to be bad.

We stopped at a visitors center just outside the park to do some light reading:

We were given some good advice by a park ranger there. She confirmed an earlier thought we had to take the 11-mile, 1-way, 15 mph Old Fall River Road through part of the park. It is very skinny, gravel, and has no guardrail. We decided to take that until it met back up with the main, 2-way Trail Ridge Road and then come back on that road (which is paved and has 2-way traffic).

Starting our climb on Old Fall River Road. It climbs a total of over a mile,
and the first 4000 feet of elevation happen in the first few miles.


The sun got pretty intense as we climbed higher, and I didn't want to burn my leg,
so I rode with the park guide draped over any spots that the sun would hit.

Exploring some more.

A wider part of the road.

Quite. The. View. 500 pixel wide images here don't do it justice.

Small rushing mountain stream. (Note the side of the road that JUST DROPS OFF.
Pharmie couldn't look out over the edge at times.)

Crossing above the tree line around 11,800 feet.


My bride.

A windy selfie. It was about 20 degrees cooler up here than it was back in Estes Park.

Our trusty rented Jetta.

The final half mile to the Alpine Visitor's Center in the distance took about 20 minutes.

On our way back down along Trail Ridge Road.
We watched a few chunky marmots just below us for a while.

A "vault toilet" selfie near the top of the USA.

We hit some really slow traffic on the way back down for a few minutes because of these fellas.

A big herd of elk.

Pharmie walking back after we watched the herd of elk (from over that ridge behind her).

Getting back near the park entrance on Trail Ridge Road.

The green is the narrow Old Fall River Road we took out,
and the red is the paved Trail Ridge Road we took back.

Back at our nice hotel room for the night. We stayed in a different hotel for this
final night so we could be close to the airport for our early flight the next morning.

A "lighter" meal of sushi on our final night because we'd had plenty of "richer" meals.

My Mom posted this on Facebook:
"Sending the last of the kids home tomorrow. Everyone had a blast, even Papa
and Nana. Going to be quiet after 5 days, but I think I'm ready for quiet!"

Here are 2 links from the trip that I posted before: our big hike at Horsetooth Mountains on our first full day in CO, and photos from the "Night" opening reception at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins (the reason we were out in CO).

Here's a final link that I recently posted on my Photo Blog: some photos of the "Night" exhibition the morning after the opening.


marplemk1 6:33 AM, July 14, 2016  

Great pics. We're headed to that exact spot in August. My wife hates "risky" driving like that, so looks like I'd better stock up on some meds. Maybe I can Mr. T her with some milk!

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