Wednesday, July 27, 2022

7/25 Drive to Granby via Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

 Today, I headed back through Rocky Mountain National Park to head west to my next campground in Granby, Colorado, which is on the opposite side of the park.  The road is called Trail  Ridge Road, and it goes through the northern parts of the park and then circles back south on the opposite side of the biggest mountains.  

The first trick, however, is to get back into the park.  You have to have a day-permit reservation, which is checked at the entrance booth.   This is the line ahead of me.  The line behind was even longer. 


This road is not as popular as the southern and eastern parts of the national park because it is a long and very steep two-lane road.  It is well worth the trip, however, in spite of the drop-offs and lack of guard rails.  Gorgeous scenery, and this is just the start.

It was hard to find a pullover with enough space for my rig because of the crowds.  In addition, I really like a flat place to park.  In this case, it was fairly flat, but I put my super-chocks behind my rear wheels, just in case.   

For many of the following photos, there were parking areas available, but most of them were on a slope and I did not trust to park and leave my vehicle in them because I envisioned it rolling down a mountain or two.  So, I took photos from my windshield or from a side window without actually parking. 

This is the view near the pullover above.  It is looking backward towards the entrance, Moraine Campground, and the town of Estes Park. 

I used my telephone lens for this photo.  It shows the YMCA campus near Estes Park.  Apparently, this is huge facility owned and heavily used by the worldwide YMCA organization. There are hotels, conference centers, and large cabins that can house more than a thousand people at one time. 

Heading toward the tree line.

And above the tree line. 

This pullover area at least had a stone wall, but I took the photo from my side window with my foot on the brake!!

A distance view of the the Alpine Visitor Center at the top of the pass. 

I don't know where they would add extra parking here, but at least there were a few spaces on the far left for big vehicles.  After a bit of wait, I was able to pull into one of these and could then walk around.  The parking lot was nice and level, as well.

Any one in my immediate family recognize this stairway to the top?  I was here with kids and grandkids a few years ago, but I and youngest grandchild waited at the bottom. 

This is one of the views from the top.

I would have missed these elk had someone not pointed them out.  Without a telephoto lens, they looks like small brown spots in the grass. 

Some wildflowers.  It is amazing how many there are up here.

After a few photos and walking around for about an hour, I continued on Trail Ridge Road to the west and south.  The first 3-4 miles were very steep, but afterwards, it was an easier drive than coming up from the east.  Also, flatter pullover spots.

A moose in the distance.

As I got closer to the town of Granby, I noticed a lot of area that had been burned in the past.  I found out later that this was the location of the East Troublesome fire in October 2020. 

More photos in a couple of days of the campground I am staying at on Lake Granby and this area. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

7/23 Rocky Mountain National Park & Moraine Campground

This post is a compilation of three nights and two full days in Rocky Mountain National Park.  

If you have been here in the past, there are some things that are new.  First, the number of people visiting this national park has increased substantially in the last few years.  This has created a lot of traffic in the park and in the town of Estes Park.  The town has probably doubled in size in the past ten years from when I first came here in my motorhome.  There are more hotels, more restaurants, more gift shops, and a lot more people visiting.  

Second, the national park has had to change its entrance policies to adapt to all the extra tourists.  The biggest problem is that there is just not enough parking inside the park.  This means you can easily drive to a spot where you want to hike or just visit for an hour or two and find the parking lot absolutely full.  The most crowded area is the Bear Lake area, where a lot of people like to hike.  There is a park and ride lot where you can take a shuttle to the Bear Lake area, that is assuming you can find a place to park in THAT lot!!

I remember when I was here ten years ago, there were shuttles from town, but those have stopped with only a permit-required hikers shuttle coming from town.  I have no idea why they would stop those shuttles, other than there is not adequate parking in town for all the people who would want to park there and ride the shuttles! 

So, not you have to get a timed-permit to enter the park, and a special timed-permit to drive to the Bear Lake area!!  If you are lucky enough to have a reservation in one of the campgrounds, as I did, you can come and go, but you have to go through two staffed entrance gates and another one to get into the campground!  This is the second gate where you have to show your Bear Lake pass.  I had to go through this to get to the campground, but got warned not to try to drive my RV to Bear Lake as I would not be allowed to park there.

This is the glacial moraine from which the largest campground was named.  This meadow provides good grazing for deer and elk. 


The next few photos are of the campground.  Sites are fairly well spaced apart, but there are no electrical hookups or even showers for campers.  There are toilets, but I did not use them so am not sure if they flushed or not.  
However, notice the brown boxes.  These are heavily built boxes for you to store food to prevent bears from getting it.  You can leave food in a trailer or motorhome, but you are asked to make sure it is in containers or in the refrigerator so that bears cannot smell it.  Keeping food in coolers is not adequate.

I will spare you the gory details, but this is where I slipped on the loose gravel and fell, badly bruising and scraping my right knee, elbow, and thumb.  I was walking downhill carrying two bags of trash, and the small gravel acted like ball bearings on the smooth asphalt.  Two campers who saw me fall, picked me up and one took my trash to the dumpster for me.  The other one walked me back to my motorhome and said she had seen several kids come down the side road and have their bikes slide out from under them.  I mentioned it to the ranger the next day, and they swept it clean. 

The next day, I hopped on the shuttle to head to Sprague Lake, which was recommended to me as being less busy than Bear lake.  Actually, walking has not been too bad with my messed-up knee.  Getting on the shuttle was a struggle with my sore knee, but I managed.

And as suggested, the local moose was busy munching her way through the lake.  Apparently, she comes here almost every day and spends hours eating, while ignoring all the crowds taking her photo.  

Here is a video of her.  (Sorry for the wind noise.)


I need to get my Rocky Mountain wildflower book out and look these up.  Is this first one fireweed? 

This is white yarrow. 

Heading back to the campground, I chatted with the female ranger and found out that a small handful of female mule deer liked to nap in some bushes near the campground ranger station.

Must have been a long, tiring day. 

This is a magpie who is waiting for someone to give him or her a drink from the water fill station.  They are noisy birds, and this one certainly knows how to get what he or she wants because I did let some water drip out. 

This is the Moraine Discover Center.  It has some nature exhibits and a very nice gift and book shop.  

On most days, Estes Park is packed with tourists buying shirts, gee-gaws, and other things, but if you look next to or behind some of the shops, you will find some very pleasant little parks with tables and benches.  I bought a hamburger and Coke, and took it to one of these to eat it.  Met and chatted with an older couple who were from Marlette, a small town in Michigan's Thumb area, so we talked about the ice cream shop and other places in the area. 


My generator has been misbehaving, so I am moving to a commercial campground tomorrow for one night so I can get AC and recharge stuff.  Also, having full hookups will let me work on unclogging my grey water tank.  On Monday, I drive through the national park alpine area to Granby, Colorado, where I will stay for a week in an electric hookup site.  I am also going to try to get a tire shop to check my tires thoroughly and see if my wheel bearings need maintenance.  

7/21 Drive Along Big Thompson River to Estes Park, CO

I wish I had had a smaller vehicle and there was less traffic so I could have taken more photos of this drive.  I took as many photos as I could safely take, considering the road was winding and busy.  (I take photos through my windshield, but I don't really aim at anything.  This means I probably take three times as many photos as actually turn out not blurry or focused on the right things.)

I have no idea why this large pipes crossed the road or what it was carrying, but it was certainly impressive enough to get me to open my camera.  

The other problem with this drive is that it seemed like most of few places where you could pull over were on the wrong side of the road.

The canyon opens up a bit as you get closer to Estes Park.

It is always exciting to see your first snow-capped mountains!  

The edge of the very busy tourist town of Estes Park. 

Love the mountains!!