Saturday we went to Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is requiring reservation times for admission. The later afternoon ones are easier to get. I tried several times to get a morning/early afternoon time, but was unsuccessful. They sell out really quickly. There is a $2 charge, even if you have the Annual Pass. If you do not have an annual or day pass, you can buy it when you make your reservation.
Our time started at 3:00 and it was about 1 1/2 hour drive there from our campground. We decided to spend the day in Estes Park, which is right outside the park, until our time opened up.
Estes Park is really pretty and is a nice walkable town. There is a nice walking path next to the creek. We got ice cream at Sunday Saloon. They made square ice cream cones! Although very neat looking and definitely different, there is a downfall to square scoops. They fall off easily. I lost my ice cream after only a few licks. Ben bought me another ice cream later, and I learned my lesson and got it in a cup!
We went into a few stores, got some more postcards, coffee, and a slice of pie.
It was finally time to head into the park. We had perfect timing and got there right as our entrance time started. Within 10 minutes we saw a bunch of cars pulled over in a pull off. I looked over and there was a moose in the pond! We pulled in and went to look. Ben grabbed the binoculars. The moose was up to his shoulders in the water and was eating plants out of the pond. It was really neat to see.
We kept driving around the main road in the park. We saw Lava Cliffs, one of the highest, or maybe the highest point on the road. It was hard to tell based on the sign. There was a snow/glacier area there. It was beautiful with a little pond at the bottom.
Our next stop was at another Tundra area. We saw 2 marmots, which look a little like our groundhogs. They sleep up to 8 months and have to double their weight in the summer to prepare for hibernation. They ate most of the time when we were there, occasionally looking up at the tourists. The tundra area takes a long time to grow, the sign said it can take centuries for plant areas to mature.
There were signs and explanations everywhere not to walk on the tundra, to stay on the path. We saw several people walking right past to get their glamor shots and selfies. There was plenty of path to get amazing pictures at without walking all over the areas that said “Stay Off” or “Tundra Closed”. There were even just signs with pictures signaling to stay off. I just don’t understand people.
Anyway, enough of the ranting. We kept on driving up to the Alpine Visitor Center. We stopped at the visitor center first and wandered around their shop. I got a new mask (looks like a bear snoot) and an ornament for Christmas. There is a trail up the hill next to the visitor center. The peak of the hill is at 12, 005 feet above sea level! The altitude definitely makes it harder to go up the hill. It wasn’t a huge change in elevation, maybe 500 feet and there were stairs for most of it. I had to take a couple of breaks to adjust, but we all made it to the top. It had some amazing views, definitely worth the walk up!
We made it back to the car and enjoyed a nice picnic dinner that Ben had packed. It was a really nice treat.
We continued on the road and stopped at the Continental Divide. We also saw a deer at a picnic spot nearby.
We stayed on the same road to get out of the park. It’s not a loop road, so if you want to leave through the same entrance you came into, you need to turn around. We decided to just drive out of the park and take a different way back home. This drive had a lot of switchbacks, but amazing views of the mountains.
We had the dash cam up, so we have some video of our drive. I compiled clips into about a 14 minute video on our YouTube channel.
I am glad we got to see Rocky Mountain National Park and the marmots and moose. I will say that I still like Yellowstone better. Rocky Mountain was great with the glacier/tundra areas, but the landscape was mostly pine trees and mountains (which are beautiful). Yellowstone’s landscape frequently changes when you drive through, so it’s always something new to look at.