Fern Lake Location: Rocky Mountain National Park Fees: Day Use = $20, Weekly = $30, Annual = $50 Website:http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm Elevation: 8,165-9,503 feet Distance: 8-9 miles roundtrip
My friend Jim organized another snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park. He does so about every other week, and it is nice to be able to tag along. Our group of five met at the visitor’s center before entering the park around 8:30am. We were in the parking area and walking down the road to the trailhead around 9am.
To start our trek, we only needed our micro-spikes as the snow was somewhat packed down, but as we gained elevation the snow thickened. The last mile, from the falls to the lake, was somewhat steep as we switch-backed up the mountain. David led the way and toward the end had to break trail.
snow covered creek
Eventually we arrived at the snow covered lake. The whipping wind directed us to a rock shelter for lunch as it was too cold to enjoy the lake view for more than a few minutes. Lunch didn’t last much longer. With our fingers and toes numb, we hustled down the mountain.
Jim, Diana, Beth, David, and Danelle
About half-way down, we warmed up. We got to some beautiful rock formations and decided to switch back to our micro-spikes as the snow didn’t seem that deep. We probably should have stuck with our snowshoes. The softening snow caused us to slip around the rest of the way down. Over all we enjoyed 8-9 miles of snowy exercise. It was nice to get outside in the sun, despite the wind! ETB
For David’s map and corresponding pictures, click here: map of our hike
For photographic notecards and key chains, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
Sandbeach Lake Location: Rocky Mountain National Park Fees: Day Use = $20, Weekly = $30, Annual = $50 Website:http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm Elevation: 8,312-10,283 feet Distance: 8.8 miles roundtrip
January 9, 2016
The forecast called for a cold day of snowshoeing at it was! I think the high may have been 20 degrees. At first we thought it might be slightly warmer as the sun peaked through the clouds, but it didn’t take long for a light snow to fall and the sun to disappear for the day.
Only a dusting of snow covered the beginning of the trail, so we were able to don mircrospikes. After about two miles in, however, the snow thickened substantially and snowshoes became a necessity. I found it was slightly challenging to cross a narrow log bridge on snow shoes though the elevation change wasn’t as hard as I expected.
After a few hours, we reached the lake. I thought we would be able to see it, but it was covered by snow. We didn’t stay long as out of the tree cover, the wind was biting cold. The group split up a bit upon our return to the parking lot as everyone needed to go a different pace to stay warm. It was a nice snowshoe and a good challenge. ETB
What a nice day to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Ann and I took the 1.5 hour drive to the Wild Basin Entrance on the southeast corner of the park. After following the one lane dirt road to the parking lot equipped with vault toilets, we arrived at the Wild Basin Trailhead.
The trail follows the creek with a variety of waterfalls. Copeland Falls was the first feature, not far into the trail. We continued our ascent, enjoyed a few turning aspen, and soon reached Calypso Cascades. We thought this tall cascading waterfall was simply lovely.
The path led us through pine forest and along new and improved trail since the 100 year flood a few years ago. At Ouzel Falls a new bridge was under construction and the trail was closed. Here was sat down for a snack before we returned to the car beneath sunny skies. We beat the rain! ETB
Fees: $20 for week per car, $40 for yearly pass, $80 for all national parks for year (fees changing Oct 1, 2015 Hours: Year Round
The Stanley Hotel Address: 333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517 Contact Info: Toll-Free 1-800-976-1377, 970-577-4000, firstname.lastname@example.org Website:http://www.stanleyhotel.com/
Denverites are fortunate to live about 1.5 hours away from the glorious Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. What makes a road trip to this National Park perfect is to enjoy a little luxury at the Stanley Hotel. David and I enjoyed a few days in the area for his birthday!
I was so excited to finally stay at this iconic hotel, famous for inspiring Stephen King to write The Shining and featured in the hit film Dumb and Dumber. The hotel was built by FO Stanley (of Stanley Steamer) after he and his wife moved to Colorado for his health. The construction began in 1907 and the hotel was complete in 1909 with a hydraulic elevator, running water, and phones.
Admittedly, I was slightly disappointed with our room. It’s small size and no air conditioning didn’t bother me too much, but the mold in shower and on the curtain, the lighting on only one side of the room, and no place to place a makeup bag in the bathroom was little to be desired. Fortunately, we were not spending much time in the room, and the lobby, whisky bar with 800 choices, porch, and views certainly made up for the lacking decor in the bedroom.
We didn’t arrive to Estes Park until Monday afternoon which we spent eating lunch, savoring ice cream and strolling around town before we checked into the hotel. After checking out the grounds, we sat on the patio at Cascades Restaurant and enjoyed a nice dinner before we decided to take the ghost tour, as the Stanley is known for its hauntings, in particular room 217.
The tour took us to the pet cemetery to begin and through a variety of the wedding rooms, the music room and the haunted tunnel. We were encouraged to take pictures in black in white in order to see green orbs and other aboritions. David and I aren’t big ghost hunters, so we found the tour to be slightly hokey, though we did enjoy learning some history about FO Stanley and his hotel. Who knew he created the #2 pencil, though he made most his money changing the photography world. It was also kind of fun to go in places closed to the masses.
Tuesday we decided to tackle a 10 mile hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. We got a late start and at 9:30 am the Glacier Gorge Trailhead Parking was already full. Park and ride was available, though there was a small parking lot about half a mile down the road, so we turned our ten mile hike into eleven miles. I suppose we were probably fortunate we picked a weekday to visit, as I doubt we would have found parking at this location otherwise.
The trail to Sky Pond was absolutely spectacular. We began following the well groomed path through a small aspen grove as it ascended to Alberta Falls. I think many visitors to the park stop here. We kept going along the well marked track to Loch Vale, a large lake where many tried their luck at fishing.
Our ascent to Loch Vale was gradual as we followed the cascading creek beneath the conifers to open, windy ridge. The dark skies dropped just a few rain drops, but spared us for most of the climb up. Soon we reached another waterfall which one group call a staircase that basically required us to boulder up the wet rocks to Lake of Glass. This lake was beautiful and any tired souls wouldn’t be missing much if they stopped here instead of continuing on to Sky Pond, as the water features were similar.
We kept going. We followed a rock path through grassy terrain, stepped across a small patch of snow and enjoyed watching the countless marmots. Some ate with no fear of visitors while others scampered into their holes. With a strong wind circling around the pond, we took cover behind some rocks for lunch, but didn’t stay too long as the skies looked ominous, and we could hear rolling thunder in the distance.
Just about as soon as we descended a light drizzle fell…enough for a raincoat, but not enough to make life rough or anything. Upon reaching a lower elevation, it stopped and we continued the rest of the way down the peaceful path. I actually expected to share the trail with more people, so the few we encountered wasn’t too bad. It is always slightly entertaining to see the hodge podge of hikers in the National Parks.
We worked up an appetite for Twin Owls Steakhouse. The pecan pie was delicious, but I had hoped David’s birthday dinner would have been as good as mine. All of it was reasonable and the service was great, but I wouldn’t say it was out of this world or anything.
Wednesday found us dragging a bit. I think we had gotten enough hiking in over the last few weeks, so we spent a leisurely morning on the porch at the Stanley drinking our coffee. We opted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park again, though this time we just took a drive across Trail Ridge Road to Lake Granby. I’ve driven this road in the past. The views and the elk never disappoint!!
Our final stop before returning to Denver was at the Holzworth Historic Site. We managed to stroll the half mile down the dirt road to find old farming equipment, wash basins, and log cabins. The ranch was established in the early 1900’s and guests used to come to fish. It was lovely and a nice way to cap off a fun birthday jaunt. ETB