What a wonderful national park!
This park is a large area of nothing but raw mountains. Longís Peak is 14,255 feet above sea level and the rest are a thousand or two lower. Over one third of the park is above the tree line (which is around 11,000 feet).
Estes Park is a beautiful town located in a valley at an elevation of 7500 feet and guarding the entrance to the park. We got a campsite in Estes Park less than one mile from the park. We took a tram ride within the village and visited the Stanley Hotel. This hotel inspired Stephen King to write ďThe ShiningĒ and the hotel was the site used to film the TV mini-series (which was just on ABC this week). There are several pictures in the Estes Park Album.
Our first excursion into the national park began by driving the jeep up the Falls River Road to the Alpine Visitorís Center which is at a 11,796 foot elevation. This Falls River Road is a dirt road with no guard rail that works itís way up nearly 4000 feet of elevation. At the visitorís center we parked the jeep and hiked another 400 feet up to the summit. What a view! From there we drove the Ridge Road, which winds along the top of several connected mountains and makes itís way back to the bottom. There are several pictures in the Rocky Mountain National Park Album.
We spent one whole day hiking up into the area called Glacier Basin. We hiked approximately 10 miles in some pretty rugged terrain and visited several high altitude lakes. Many photos from this day are shown in the Rocky Mountain Hiking Album. We had a great day.
We had planned to stay two weeks at Rocky Mountain Park but left after just one week due to a forest fire that broke out just 8 miles south of Estes Park and completely covered both Estes Park and the National Park in smoke each day. We waited it out for two days before finally deciding that the smoke was not going to go away any time soon. Itís a good thing we got out because the fire is still zero-percent contained due to the rough terrain and the wind conditions. The fire was doubling in size every other day and moving closer to Estes Park. We took several pictures of the smoke from our campsite and within the national park. Also, we drove the 8 miles to the site of the fire to get some up-close shots. All of these are in the Forest Fire Album.
Itís too bad that we had to leave the Rocky Mountain National Park so soon. We loved it. We certainly hope that the fire is controlled soon. The day we left another fire broke out just a couple miles outside Boulder. That fire was contained within one day. Itís a little scary out here.