Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Home Road Trip Taking a Scenic Road Trip to Colorado

Taking a Scenic Road Trip to Colorado

by Staff

Onward to Rocky Mountain National Park

After several days in Colorado Springs, we packed our RV up again and headed north toward Estes Park, the oh-so-charming little town just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. We made camp at a spot called Hermit’s Hollow Campground, and my kids loved pretending that Estes Park was our city. “We’re the famous Esteses,” was the lie they told through giggles to numerous kind strangers who graciously pretended to believe it.

Rocky Mountain National Park was a dream, with trails for every skill level (we stuck to short ones for our kiddos), four distinct ecosystems to experience as you climb in elevation, and picture-perfect spots like the wildly popular Bear Lake. It was crazy to walk Coyote Valley Trail and think about how the little, bitty Colorado River that flows through the Kawuneeche Valley is the same waterway that ultimately carved out the Grand Canyon some 650 miles to the southwest. Wild, right?

Although the weather at the lower elevations was delightful in early June (sunny skies, warm air, no need for anything more than short sleeves), our very favorite part of Rocky Mountain National Park was the more inhospitable Alpine tundra areas at the very highest elevations. It’s incredible to drive Trail Ridge Road, which crosses the entire width of the park from the towns of Estes Park to Grand Lake, and emerge out of dense evergreen forests and into the treeless expanse of the tundra. You feel like you’re on top of the world. Our visit was early in the summer, so there was still quite a bit of snow at those high elevations—plus bitter wind and biting cold. We tried to walk the Tundra Communities Trail to the very top, but we couldn’t handle the wind even though we were bundled. We took in what we could before driving to the Alpine Visitors Center to warm up with cocoa, hot tea and muffins. The cold might sound a little intense, but we truly couldn’t get over how interesting the tundra was, and to this day it’s the part of our trip that Eli, Oliver and I talk about the most. (Eloise, on the other hand, only has eyes for Garden of the Gods.)

The next day, we almost skipped the Alluvial Fan. At only about a ¼-mile, the paved path didn’t feel exciting enough to spend our time on. We knew it ended at a cascading waterfall that flows though a boulder field formed by a 1982 landslide—but we were feeling kind of meh about it. We were in the area, though, so we visited. It wound up being one of our top favorite spots in the park. The path was easy to navigate, meaning we didn’t expend all our energy on the walk. So the kids had plenty of oomph left in them to climb around on and slide down the sides of boulders of all shapes and sizes. We spent the whole morning there, taking in the mountains rising up around us on all sides and enjoying the sound of the water rushing beside us.

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