Our next stop after Moab was the Rocky Mountain National Park. We took Scenic Byway 128 in order to follow the Colorado River and enjoy some of the beautiful scenery…
…and accepted a detour through Colorado National Monument, a plateau with canyons and great views. We didn’t go hiking here but stopped at several lookouts.
A special place is Upper Ute Canyon View because here you can create the best echo I’ve ever experienced!
We arrived at the west entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park in the late afternoon and stayed in Granby for one night. On the next morning, we entered the park and did some short hikes on the west side. We started with Green Mountain which leads through a forest up to a meadow which is apparently a good spot to see moose. However, we didn’t get lucky up there on that day.
However, on the way to our next hike, we got extremely lucky and saw a mama moose with her baby!
We then walked on the very easy Coyote Valley Trail …
…and along Colorado River:
After those two walks, we drove on the famous Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the US. We had fantastic views of the alpine scenery…
… as we passed the tree line and the Continental Divide.
There is a visitor center at one of the very high points of the road from where you can hike up to a point that is 12.000 feet above sea level.
When we came down again, we found the east side of the park as pretty as the west side: Green valleys, flowers blooming and stunning, snow covered summits everywhere you look.
However, the east side, with the town of Estes Park (where we were staying for 4 nights, too) is more famous amongst tourists so it is also much more crowded!
Instead of talking about all the different trails we did during these 3 days, I would like to introduce you to my favorite ones:
I definitely liked the Bear Lake Corridor Trails the most. We started with the 1.8 miles one-way trail to Emerald Lake. On the way, you pass three other lakes:
and Dream Lake…
…before you arrive at Emerald Lake.
The elevation gain between the car park at Bear Lake and Emerald Lake is 605 feet. And remember, you’re already pretty high up when you start this hike. Even though it is the end of June, we had to pass several snow fields between Dream and Emerald Lake.
On the amount of the jackets I was carrying you can see, I was prepared for every kind of weather!
Unfortunately we couldn’t do the round-trip via Lake Haiyaha and Alberta Falls back to the car park, but as the trail to Emerald Lake has been so beautiful, we didn’t mind hiking it back again.
When we arrived back at the car park, we hit the loop from the other side in order to see the Alberta Falls and Mills Lake. This was a 2.8 miles one-way hike with an elevation gain of 750 feet. There was a lot of up and down walking included…
The Alberta Falls were nice…
… but way to crowded. I liked the next part of the trail, up to Mills Lake, much more.
My favorite spot on this trail was however not Mills Lake, but a place just before you see the lake, up on a rock, overlooking a stream, with the mountain tops in the background:
Perfect spot for a picnic!
Next to the Bear Lake Area, there is one more place I really loved: Lily Lake!
We met this little fellow (who really wanted me to take a picture of him…)
… and I saw the cutest, well, rat, I’ve ever seen! A muskrat:
Looked like a smaller version of a beaver, only with a slim tail. Too cute ! It was very busy collecting leaves for its nest.
Another good place for wildlife watching by the way is Sprague Lake, where we saw another moose:
And it’s also a beautiful lake with stunning mountain views in the background:
Well guys, those were my highlights of Rocky Mountain National Park. Of course, there are many, many more trails and areas to explore. Simply come for yourselves and check them out!
More information about:
Colorado National Monument
Rocky Mountain National Park