Monday, August 30, 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park

Located in the elevated and vastly remote high country of Colorado lies Rocky Mountain National Park. High in altitude and attitude, the park is both relaxing and awe inspiring. Whether its a long hike, a sight seeing drive, or wildlife viewing, RMNP has something for every visitor.

On the outskirts of the park is the town of Estes Park, CO. A beautiful and rustic town with plenty of hotels, restaurants, and gift shops for the visiting tourist. Estes Park is home to the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Steven Kings book "The Shinning." The Sundeck Restaurant is a great place to stop for breakfast, although its on the pricey side. The spirit of the town is reflected in a sign inside the Sundeck "If you are in a rush, then this isn't the place for you" speaking to its laid back way of life.

The park itself is huge and offers lots of opportunities to hike. There are many Alpine and sub Alpine day hikes. One excellent hike is from Glacier Gorge parking area to Mills Lake. Mills Lake is stunning, nestled on the Western flanks of Longs Peak (a 14,000 + peak). The hike is easy, and has a quick stop at the amazing Alberta Falls. The image of Mills Lake is displayed on the Colorado State quarter.

Drive over Trail Ridge Road in the summer. It's widely known to be the highest paved road in the US, and is closed most of the year due to heavy snow. This road takes you high into the Colorado mountains at elevations over 12,000 feet. This is higher than "tree line" - the altitude that trees stop growing. The views are amazing of distant rocky peaks and sparkling mountain lakes.

Wildlife is abundant in Rocky Mountain National Park, and quiet frequently massive brown herds of elk are seen feeding. We also saw several moose and deer, in addition to marmots in the high country.

The air is crisp and fresh, and the sky is the brightest of blues. Any trip to Rocky Mountain National Park is worth the time, and not for those who rush.

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