Rocky Mountain National Park...
Jun 1, 2007
|Oh my gosh, what a beautiful day we had! We went into Estes Park & then on Hwy 36 took the shorter East Side trip to Bear Lake. It was a wildlife bonanza! This National Park is beautiful! And big...
Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses approximately 265,770 acres of land in Colorado's northern Front Range. The park is split by the Continental Divide, which gives the eastern and western portions of the park a different character. The east side of the park tends to be dryer, with heavily glaciated peaks and cirques. The west side of the park is wetter and more lush, with deep forests dominating.
The park contains 359 miles of trails, 150 lakes, and 450 miles of streams! It also contains over 60 named peaks higher than 12,000 feet, and over one fourth of the park resides above treeline. The highest point of the park is Longs Peak, which rises to 14,259 feet above sea level. Longs Peak is the only fourteen thousand foot peak in the park. And you can see it from nearly everywhere!
Poor Larry, I must have asked him to turn-out over 100 times. Maybe more, as I took 244 pictures today! He finally asked me if I would like to walk up the mountain & he would pick me up at the top! I might have considered it, but at 9,000 ft+ altitude, there wasn't much oxygen! It was amazing though, when we did pull out & take off on some of the hiking trails, I managed to breathe fairly well. Maybe an adrenaline rush???
We took a left out of our RV Park & headed up Hwy 34 through Big Thompson Canyon along the Big Thompson River. We made our way through some amazing rock formations, a swift moving river & came to a screeching halt when I spotted two Rocky Mountain Bighorns grazing near the road. They let me photograph them for awhile, then beat a retreat up the rocks. They were both tagged in the ear, so they are apparently monitoring the bighorn activity in the area. They also both seemed to be molting. The mountain seemed so fragmented & fragile all through this area that Larry said he wouldn't be surprised if we came back in a few years to find that it had all fallen down to become a plain!
We moved on until we had our first glimpse of the beautiful snow-capped Rockies! Wow...The Ponderosa Pines are just so pretty with their thick red trunks & the lighter green Aspens (Quakies) make for a lovely contrast. We made a left onto Bear Lake Road & saw a large meadow just past the Moraine Park Museum filled with elk. We parked, grabbed both camera lenses & hiked over to check them out. There were mostly cows, but there were a few young bulls with tiny little velvet covered antlers also. They were perfectly content to allow us to watch them eat & lounge about. It was so cool! The lovely green meadow with the snow capped peaks in the background was beautiful! And cold...no sun yet today, boohoo...
A bit further down the road, we noticed movement in the bushes along the river, and wow...a LARGE bull Elk! He was magnificent! We watched him for 30 minutes. I could have stayed for hours! But more to see, so little time! So on to Sprague Lake. A small but very pretty lake. We took the walk around it & the sun was peeking out by then & it was a bit warmer, so we really enjoyed it.
Then on to Glacier Gorge Trailhead & finally to Bear Lake, elevation 9,475 feet. Bear Lake, in the heart of the park, is a popular destination and trailhead. The lake rests beneath the sheer flanks of Hallett's Peak and the Continental Divide. It was a short, easy walk to the lake's edge. It was also very beautiful. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground here & we had a good view of Tyndall Glacier, one of the 7 glaciers in the area.
The last couple of hours of our day we were blessed with warmer temps & sunnier skies. It's easier to photograph all this beauty without dark clouds hanging around, so I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them! We are going to a pancake breakfast held here in the park by the Kiwanis Club in the morning, and then heading out for the West side of this spectacular mountain range. We can't wait to see what's around the next corner!!! I am praying for a sunny, bright, warm day. I think I'll get it....