Saturday, July 12, 2014

Trail Ridge Road

This is, believe it or not, a very edited selection of the photos I took along Trail Ridge Road, AKA the most beautiful part of America I've had the pleasure of seeing. Rocky Mountain National Park has my heart in a big way, and I've only lived in this state for a year and a half.

This first photo is just a river running behind our first bathroom stop. No big deal.

Longs Peak is the domineering one in this photo. The 14er likes to take over every photo in the vicinity.

Looking the other direction at the same outlook — a perfect place to sit (if it weren't along a road, ha).

We started our journey in this humble valley below.

No clue what mountain range this is, or what overlook. Perhaps Rainbow Curve? They all start running together, there are so many views along the way.

But once you reach the alpine tundra, it's a view you'll never forget. This is from the Forest Canyon overlook, a definite must-stop.

We saw so many marmots! They make funny little bark-grunts (and one barked-grunted at me because I came around a corner and nearly toppled over his tubby little body).

This is the view on a small hike we did that started at an overlook just past Forest Canyon. Great wildflower viewing, big-time. Incredible vantage points that show off the Gore Range.

This was the guy I almost ran over.

Not bad, right?

I freaking love the tundra.

This is the best hike along the way. Incredible views of the Gore Range, and it's right across the road from the Alpine Visitor Center (skip that, do this hike instead). Hold onto your hats, though, because it's windy!

We descended rather quickly from nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and began our winding trip to the western slope. It's well-known for moose sightings, and we saw one immediately! I could have watched this all day.

We stayed in Grand Lake for the night, right at the gates to Rocky Mountain National Park. Tiny little town, but it worked well enough for us to pass out until we made our way back over the Continental Divide the next morning. And what a morning it was — next three photos are the view from Grand Lake Lodge.

This next photo was taken while John was driving, just so you have an idea how little work you have to do for incredible views.

And again, the western slope delivered, this time with two moose! The other is laying in the grass on the left. We sat around waiting to see if it moved, but gave up. Beautiful creatures.

This was the view just to the right of our moose sighting. The moose sure can pick 'em. This photo is exactly how we saw it — no doctoring or editing at all.

We stopped for some views of the Gore Range on the way back, just because it was so clear and peaceful.

And we hit jackpot at the Forest Canyon overlook again, as a herd of elk was munching on a breakfast buffet, tundra-style. There were babies!

It doesn't get much better than this. First trip up Trail Ridge Road, and it definitely won't be the last.