Anyone who knows me just a little bit knows that when I take a vacation, I always go to the mountains! This summer’s vacation was to Rocky Mountain National Park. We rented a cute little cabin in Estes Park, CO right on the edge of the park. A very cozy place to retire to every night! This post is very photo intensive, but only contains a small percentage of the pictures I took. This place is so beautiful…
We arrived at the Denver Aiport around 9:30 am, rented our car and headed to Estes Park. We went to the Boulder Farmers Market and got some yummy coffee and some of the most delicous, juicy peaches I’ve ever tasted. IMO, peaches are one of the BEST things about summer!
While in Boulder, I just had to stop at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory. I’m a long time fan of their herbal teas, with my favorite being Sleepytime, Peppermint, and Chamomile teas. I would’ve loved to taken pictures of the tour, but photos were prohibited. One thing that really struck me about this place was how delicious it smelled! All of those yummy herbs. I think the highlight of the tour for me was the “Mint Room.” They have to keep the bulk bags of spearmint and peppermint in a separate room to keep them from infiltrating all of the other herbs! The mintyness of this room was so strong that it made your eyes water…. The other favorite part was the free tea tasting and the gift shop!
We found our rental, bought park passes and hiking books, then took a quick twilight drive.
We planned a hike to Emerald Lake, which is a path that passes Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. This was our first views of the park…. blown away by the beauty! Really…. I just love mountains! We were lucky as we managed to catch up with a guided hike with a park ranger which was actually really interesting and informative. This hike was 3.8 miles.
The wind at Emerald Lake was painfully cold, but the view was amazing!
Later in the afternoon, we took a drive on Old Fall River Road-
Monday’s hike was Mill’s Lake. This was a 5 mile trail that passes through aspen trees, Alberta Falls, through a high canyon and finally solid rock that finally leads to the lake. This trail was really rocky in places, making for tough footing and a lot of extra energy expended by stepping around and over all of the rocks… totally worth it though!
We (I) needed a little bit of a break from hiking, so we chose this day to do some driving! Our primary destination was Winter Park Colorado, where we tried out their alpine slide (FUN!), rode the chairlift to the top and walked around a bit.
There were tons of mountain bikers around…
We also drove by Breckenridge, turned around in Vail, then hit Georgetown where we had a yummy yummy dinner at the Euro Grill. Highly recommended, especially if you’re into Schnitzels.
The hike of the day was the Ute Trail. The trailhead is off Trail River Road:
This hike was above the treeline and afforded some wonderful mountain views. We also saw lots of these little critters:
We saw tons of Elk on this trip (along with marmots, mountain goats, rabbits, moose, mule deer and big horn sheep, lots of different birds and chipmunks and squirrels), but this is the best wildlife shot we got. Rich snapped this on the way to Thursday’s hike – The Crater.
Now you would think that a one mile hike would be a breeze. We’ve had a chance to acclimate a teeny bit to the elevation… this single mile started at ~10,000 feet elevation had 1000 feet of elevation gain. We started walking through a forest and ended up beyond the treeline. Honestly… I had to stop and gasp for oxygen at least 9-10 times along this hike.
The effort was worth it, as we ended up at one of my favorite views! We were also rewarded by seeing the highly elusive big horn sheep. I’d post the pic I took if you could see more than little white dots on a cliff…
Later on in the day we did a less than a mile hike around Lily Lake:
Friday we hiked Beirstadt Lake Trail. We started at the top and after a couple hundred feet of elevation gain, the rest of the hike was all downhill.
This was our last day and decided to drive to the top of Mount Evans. The road up to the top (~14,000 feet) was narrow, a little crumbly in places and generally scary. The views from the top were nice and we also saw the highest telescope in the world on top.
The rest of the day involved driving back to Denver, stopping at places along the way and flying back to Midway.
A wonderful vacation! I can totally see myself going back here someday.