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: Estes Park pt. 1

Hello!

Estes Park, Colorado is a delightful little town in northern Colorado at the entrance to Rock Mountain National Park. It is definitely a must-see if you ever visit Colorado, whether you stay in the town itself or spend a day there while visiting a different area. My family spent a weekend there a couple of weeks ago to relax and have some fun before the spring semester started. We spent a little bit of time in Rocky Mountain National Park, but it was really cold so we spent most of our time in the town and I took pictures at some of my favorite shops and restaurants to share with you all. I have several shops to share with you so I think I will split it up into restaurants and food related shops and non-food related shops.

Donut Haus

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Donut Haus was the most adorable little bakery. I had an amazing chocolate donut. My sister, who likes her donuts totally plain without flavor or icing said that they had the most perfect plain donut she had ever tried. Pick some up for breakfast in the morning, and go early, or you’ll just be buying coffe; when we stopped by in the afternoon, they had sold out.

 

Rocket Fizz

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There is a Rocket Fizz store near my home in Colorado Springs but the one in Estes Park is the best one I’ve visited. They have a huge variety of candies and soda. Just visiting and looking around is a really cool experience.

Estes Park Times and Old Fashioned Candy Store

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This store always has the most amazing window displays using candy and the two times I’ve visited around Christmas they have had elaborately decorated gingerbread houses that look really cool. Inside the store they have lots of different old-fashioned and modern candies in barrels and crates like you’ve stepped into a candy shop a hundred years ago. One of my favorite things about this shop and about Rocket Fizz is that they often have candies that I really like but that are hard to find in the stores I normally shop at.

Estes Park Taffy Company

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Speaking of candy, this taffy shop is the first taffy shop to be opened in Estes Park in 1935. You can watch them pulling the taffy and cutting and wrapping it using the same machinery they’ve been using since the 1940s. If you visit, try the peppermint and butter pecan flavors, they’re my favorite.

 

You Need Pie! and Shakes Alive!

You Need Pie! is a really fun bakery and diner. Go for breakfast or just go for the pie. My favorite is the blueberry. I haven’t had a chance to visit Shakes Alive! because it closes in the winter. If you visit in the summer before I do, tell me how it is.

Have a great day!

~Maizy