Rocky Mountains

Sunday (July 20)

The seven of us got an early start and drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park. Kawuneeche Valley is prime moose-spotting territory in RMNP and we weren’t disappointed. We watched two females strolling and eating near the Beaver Ponds. I would have liked a longer lens (or a closer moose), but thoroughly enjoyed observing them.

At the Alpine Visitors Center, we climbed stairs to a viewpoint at 12,000’ and then took a short hike on the Ute Trail. Wow, what views! As we continued our drive on Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved through road in the United States, we got lucky and spotted a dozen or more elk near an overlook.

It was a bit windy at the top, so we drove down over the pass and ate lunch near West Horseshoe Park on a rock overlooking a meadow. It was at least twenty degrees warmer than at the top. We continued on to Estes Park and spent a leisurely afternoon in this tourist town. I enjoyed iced tea lemonade with Karen and Anne sitting near the stream that runs through town.

When our hotel rooms were ready, we took quick showers, and then enjoyed an early dinner at the Rock Inn – hearty portions of decent food and a nice local musician. The place filled up. At dusk we drove back through the east end of the park hoping to spot Big Horn Sheep or other wildlife, but spotted only one deer.

Kawuneechee Valley

Kawuneechee Valley

Moose at Beaver Pond

Moose at Beaver Pond

Near the top

Near the top

12,000'

12,000′

Ute Trail - looking West

Ute Trail – looking West

Ute Trail - looking east

Ute Trail – looking east

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

Elk in Meadow

Elk in Meadow

Photographing the Elk

Photographing the Elk

Nice antlers

Nice antlers

Deer

Deer

Monday (July 21)

I said my farewells to everyone. Lynne and Debbie are taking three days to drive home, Karen is continuing on to Wyoming, and the others are driving to Denver and flying to San Francisco today. Nancy drove up from Fort Collins to pick me up. She brought Dave with her, a family friend visiting from Tennessee. (Dave met Nancy’s husband, Steve, when the two of them were in medical school). We took a long leisurely drive back to her home.

Our wildlife spotting in RMNP wasn’t as spectacular as yesterday – one marmot and a couple distant moose disappearing into the brush. We ate lunch at a picnic table near Shadow Mountain Lake then drove north and through Poudre Canyon to reach Fort Collins.

Marmot

Marmot

Lake in gorge

Lake in gorge

Abandoned wagon

Abandoned wagon

Another nice view

Another nice view

Moo

Moo

Photo break

Nice light

Nice light

Moose in meadow

Moose in meadow

Clouds and crags

Clouds and crags

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