Thursday, August 21, 2008
Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
Wednesday after lunch at Ed's Cantina in Estes Park, we drove to Rocky Mountain National Park, taking the Fall River Road which quickly becomes a gravelly one-way uphill climb with vicious switchbacks, providing us with a gorgeous, though frightening view of the valleys below. We're told that this road "gives a clear idea of what early auto travel was like in the West." From my perch in the back seat with Sarah and Elle, I decide it's better not to look anywhere but ahead. Rich is notoriously queasy about narrow roads with steep drop-offs, but he did a great job of negotiating our way to the top of the mountain at 12,700 feet elevation. We had talked about taking a short hike once we reached our destination but the weather had turned stormy and we were under a lightning alert. The temperature went from the 70's in Estes Park to the 40's when we reached the Visitor's Center at the top, and rain had begun to fall. After browsing the Visitor's Center and taking in the spectacular view above the tree line, we drove back down on the Trail Ridge Road, called "one of America's great alpine highways." It's also identified as the highest continuously paved highway in the US (yes, the road down was paved and not quite as exciting as the road up!) Coming down, we saw this beautiful elk lazing in the grass.
When we got back to Estes Park, we took the tram up to an overlook and enjoyed more spectacular views of the surrounding area, as well as these cute little chipmunks.
Then a scrumptious dinner at the Hotel Stanley's restaurant and our day was done. We had lots of fun hanging out with Sarah, Miles and precious little Elle, what a sweetie-pie.