ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK - July 14, 2009

I spent the 4th of July weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park, which was great. But the weather did not cooperate much ... a disappointment I have learnt to live with, thanks to all the mountain visits I have been making in the recent months. Two out of my three planned days in the Rockies were a washout due to heavy rains. The third day was thankfully everything I could have wished for and more. The true splendor of these mountains was indeed inescapable, as my photos show.
 
On day one, the plan was to make it up to the Continental Divide, on foot, by hiking up to the summits of Flattop and Hallett Peaks. That had to be canceled because of imminent thunderstorms and reports of more than a couple of feet of snow on the trail and on the summits. Fortunately, no time was lost in putting together a just-in-time plan B of sorts, and we headed to The Loch and Emerald Lake instead. 

  

The better part of the next day was spent rafting down Cache La Poudre in Roosevelt National Forest, somewhere northwest of Fort Collins. This was a fun ride with mostly class 3 rapids, which we were able to negotiate well, thanks to our very capable guide from Rapid Transit Rafting.

 

The last day was the best, in more ways than one. We took it easy and mostly drove around the park looking for wildlife, which was aplenty. Driving around also gave us a chance to make it to the Continental Divide the easy way at Milner Pass. If you are out to spot wildlife take my advice and you will save lots of time. Head all the way up to the Alpine Visitor Center for Elk. Don't try too hard to spot them in lower areas. In summer, they hang out at the very highest elevations of Trail Ridge Rd. around the Alpine Visitor Center. The same applies for Marmots as well. The Moose can be spootted only west of the divide. So drive beyond Milner pass to stretches of road along the Colorado River. Forget the the Bighorns. I get the impression that they are not all that easy to spot anyway. 

  

During this trip, we stayed at the Peak to Peak Lodge on South St. Vrain Street in Estes Park. It turned out to be a no fuss, no frills place ... just what I had wanted and expected. Among the food places ... Mountaineer Restaurant, Egg and I were great for breakfast. Estes Park Brewery and Smoking Dave's were good for the local brews. Nepal's Cafe serves good Chai but wasn't all that great otherwise.

 

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