A Week in Rocky Mountain NP

Day five, July 14 (happy birthday Ian)  and as we were headed out of Curt Gowdy SP, we parked at the Visitor Center and hiked around the area. We arrived at the entrance station in Rocky MT. NP around 4, after a crazy time shopping in a thunderstorm in Loveland, Colorado, which would be the beginning of many daily thunderstorms.  Our site was in the B loop -#190 of Moraine CG. There is a 7-night max stay in the park. The day before there had been a phenomenal rainstorm and the road though our campground was more rock than asphalt.

The site we had was close to neighbors, but the view was great of Longs Peak, and by 7:30 we had another thunderstorm. The storm passed pretty quick and the sunset was awesome. I had fun playing with my new camera – Fuji TX-3.

Monday in Rocky and I had set up a meeting with Janel, who I had met on Instagram and who also is a great authority both on Rocky and the Fuji. She arrived with banana bread and so much information and help regarding the camera and what to see we hated to see her not go on a hike with us. After she left we drove to the Moraine Park Discovery Center, hiked around it, watching the weather storm up. Then we drove into the valley below our campground which was once a golf course to look at the Thompson River. Heading out we decided to head up to Bear Lake, the most popular lake due to accessibility (drive to it and walk around .5 miles). We found parking and it started to really storm! On this little drive outside the campground I had only my phone for pictures, no rain protection and I am afraid of thunderstorms, needless to say I ran to the bathroom undercover and waited for the downpour to end. We were able to walk around the lake without to many people and it truly is gorgeous. We then hit Sprague Lake which is a ¾ mile loop and also very pretty. And by 7:00 the rain was back with a vengeance, luckily no hail.
We awoke to blue skies and the road crew working to restore the asphalt. Deciding that  a Tuesday would be a good day to go into Estes Park and have lunch. We parked and walked around the town, enjoying the scenery and the river that meanders thru it. It’s a destination town which is very full of visitors, shops and eating places. We decided to eat at a place that had outdoor seating and a view, but the wind came up, with potential for rain and we went inside. That night we enjoyed another thunderstorm – quick lived.
It’s a new day and time to hike, so we took the shuttle from the campground up to Bear Lake, catching the 7:30 bus. Hiking from Bear Lake we hiked to Nymph, then to Dream and then to Emerald Lake at 10,100 feet. It was about a 3-mile round trip with a fair amount of hikers, but coming back there were even more. We made the lake by 10:30. If anything, we have learned to start early. The lakes are gorgeous, my favorite was Dream Lake. We were back to our site by 1:00.
Thursday morning, July 18, we left around 8:30 to drive the Trail Ridge Road and eat at the Grand Lake Lodge at the west entrance to the park. We had downloaded an audio guide which we followed and made numerous stops along the way. We opted not to stop at the Alpine Visitor Center as it was packed. The drive is, as one would expect scenic and busy. We arrived at the Lodge just before the lunch crowd and had a wonderful window seat. The lodge is gorgeous and was built in 1919. On the way back we walked the one-mile trail at the Never Summer Ranch and along the Colorado River, with its headwaters 10 miles upstream. It will flow 1400 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. We will play with it again in Canyon Lands NP.
Friday and were up again early for (9 am starts are usual) a hike just from our campground to Cub Lake and The Pool. Its about 5 miles if one uses the shuttle stop at Fern Lake to get back. The trail is gorgeous and not so many people on it, and I highly suggest this way into Cub Lake verses The Pool trail entrance. There was a fire that has taken a lot of shade away on the trail. There were a lot of flowers on the trail, the lake is recovering from a fire, but still worth the hike regardless. Saw my first Columbine on this trail and had to use my cell phone as my camera battery died. This was one of my favorite hikes. Nighttime brought  salmon on the bbq and the movie Dumb and Dummer.
Last day and in Rocky and were up early to drive the Old Fall River Road. Built by 1920 this was the first motor route to cross Rocky. Its one-way and 9 miles of dirt with switchbacks. It comes out at the Alpine Visitor Center. We listen to the audio version on the way, which I highly recommend. After the drive and the 25 miles down we head to the Stanley Hotel for lunch. It peaks our interest because it’s a 110 year-old lodge. And coincidentally Dumb and Dummer was filmed here. After lunch we headed into Estes Park to walk around and get gas, heading back to camp and another thunderstorm. Our campsite was great for views and watching the weather. However we were amazed that most campers only stayed one to two nights all around us, as this park is vast and the hiking unlimited.
  
Sunday morning we slept in, took showers and headed out late, eating lunch still in Rocky, along the road. We made it to Denver to our nephew’s house around 4 and enjoyed some family time with Sammy, Erica and Michael. That night we were pounded while moochdocking by another Colorado thunderstorm. Monday, we head southwest.