Colorado Travel Guide: Rocky Mountain National Park

Happy Independence Day!

Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning part of Colorado, filled with rugged mountains, dense forests, powerful rivers, and freezing tundras where summer never comes. It is the home of Long’s Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado as well as the source of the Colorado River, which makes its way through the country, eventually winding its way through the Grand Canyon. It is one of my favorite places to hike and camp, or just take a day trip to drive around and see the beautiful views. An entrance to the park is located just outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

I recently camped in the park to explore and get some higher altitude hiking in before I hike my first fourteener (also known as mountians that are at least fourteen thousand feet in elevation).  Please note that Rocky Mountain National Park is a high elevation park. Make sure to stay hydrated and watch for signs of altitude sickness, which can be life threatening. If you are from a much lower elevation than most of Colorado I would reccommend taking a few days to acclimate to the elevation in a place with access to medical assistance before attempting a hike in the park.

The first hike I did was to Fern Lake, I got caught in the rain so I didn’t make it all the way to the lake, but the views were incredible and the foliage and wildflowers were beautiful. Make sure to bring bug spray and wear long pants/sleeves, the mosquitoes were fierce.

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The second hike I did was in the Wild Basin area the trail passes a series of waterfalls and ends at a lake. Again, I got caught in the rain so I didn’t make it all of the way to the lake but I made it five miles in and saw three of the waterfalls.

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Before you leave the park, make sure to drive over Trail Ridge Road. It is the highest paved road in the United States and takes you through all of the various eocsystems in the park. The first is Montane, the thick mountian forests with a large diversity of animal and plant life. Next is Subalpine, which is located just before and after treeline, where the elevation makes it too difficult for trees to grow. The last is Alpine Tundra, summer seems to never come here and there is always snow on the ground.

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the view of the park from Trail Ridge Road

While on Trail Ridge Road we stopped near the trail head for Mt. Ida, there was a short trail above this lake that was quite lovely.

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I never realized before this trip that there is a National Scenic Trail along the Continental Divide that goes all the way from New Mexico, through Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho, to Montana. Backpacking along that trail is definitely something that I want to do in the next five years.

I hope you enjoyed this and got another idea for your next visit to Colorado!

~Maizy

Check out my Colorado Travel Guide posts about Estes Park pt. 1Estes Park pt. 2, The Celestial Seasonings Tea FactoryBishop’s Castle, and The Hanging Lake Trail.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Colorado Travel Guide: Hanging Lake Trail

Hello!

The Hanging Lake Trail is a beautiful hike of a little more than one mile, located just off of eastbound I-70 about 15 minutes east of Glenwood Springs, CO. The hike is strenuous but doable for most abilities. The trail never gets hot, there is a thick cover of trees the length of the canyon, and there are benches spaced fequently throughout the length of the trail for the tired hiker.

The parking lot can only be reached from eastbound I-70 and fills up very quickly. I reccomend arriving before 7:00 if you want to avoid waiting in line. You can also park in Glenwood Springs, or any of three rest areas near the trail take the bike trail that runs along the Colorado River and connects all of those stops and simply lock your bike up before hiking the trail, if you decide to do this, however, you will need to be sure that you won’t be too tired to bike back to your car, and during the spring run off, parts of the trail are closed due to the Colorado River flooding the trail. Once you’ve parked, or bike to the Hanging Lake rest area there is a short walk along the same bike path that I mentioned to get to the trail head. The path is lined with wild rose bushes and other wild flowers and has breath taking views of the river and the Glenwood Canyon.

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The sun rise hits the canyon later than it does the rest of the world so you can leave Glenwood when the sun is up and still see the sun rise in the canyon (It’s stunning).

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As I said before the trail is strenuous. This is what the most difficult parts of the trail look like up until the final strech. The last bit of the trail is in stair steps. The steps can be quite tall but there are not many of them and there are two places to step aside and take a rest, with more beautiful views of the canyon.

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Once you get to the top of the stairs follow the walkway to your right and just around the corner you will see the most beautiful crystal clear lake that makes the whole hike all of the hiking and climbing worth it. There is a walkway around half of the lake with benches to rest on and places to take pictures and admire the lake and the waterfall that is its source.

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Later in the summer there will be yellow columbines growing along the lake!

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You may think that coming down will be easier than going up but while you won’t get as winded the steepness will be jarring to your joints so take it slowly and you’ll see things like this waterfall that you might have missed on the way up. The view is different in every season so the surroundings never get boring.

Be sure to also check out By Quiet Waters’ post about Hanging Lake, to find out about the short walk from the lake to Spouting Rock.

~Maizy

If you would like to read more from my Colorado Travel Guide series, check out my posts one Estes Park, CO pt. 1 and pt. 2, the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, and Bishop’s Castle.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great; you know I’m classier than that;). However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

Colorado Travel Guide: Bishop’s Castle

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Hello!

I have another travel guide post for you all! Bishop’s Castle is a beautiful stone castle that was hand built by a man named Jim Bishop. You can explore and wander through the entire castle. It’s really amazing, and slightly terrifying. Don’t worry, noone has died on it….yet.

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After Memorial Day, the dragon breathes fire!

 

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These stained glass windows were all throughout the castle.
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My mom, in one of the towers of the castle.
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An almost exact model of the castle.

If you live in Colorado, or are visiting, this is definitely something you have to see! It is free to visit but the current builder accepts donations. The donations are split between continuining work on the castle and a fund for infant heart surgery.

Have a great day!

~Maizy

Colorado Travel Guide: The Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory

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Hello!

The Celestial Seasonings factory is one of my favorite places and definitely a must see if you are visiting the Denver or Boulder area of Colorado. Celestial Seasonings has been around since 1969, they  source top-quality ingredients from all over the world and sell their teas in many different countries. They have a huge variety of flavors and many of their teas are organic and fair-trade certified. Some of my favorite teas are Sleepytime, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland and Fast Lane. Their factory in Boulder is the only one in the world.

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The tour takes about 30 minutes and unfortunately, photos are not allowed. After the tour I highly reccomend spending some time in the tea shop and the sampling room. You can try out teas in the sampling room, and then buy them in the tea shop perfect, right? The tea shop has one of the best selections of their tea I have seen (surprise, surprise, I know) so whenever I visit I stock up on all of the teas that I can’t find anywhere else.

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The Sleepytime Bear

Have you visited the Celestial Seasonings factory? What did you think?

Have a great day!

~Maizy