We arrived to Denver Saturday morning. We picked up our rental car and headed to Estes Park where our “base camp” was for our Rocky Mountain National Park Adventures.
As we drove from Denver to Estes Park, the colors and scenery were beautiful.
We arrived to Estes Park a little later than we thought we would and it was so crowded with people, so we decided to walk around Estes Lake; we saw elk throughout the golf course that borders the trail.
After our 4+ mile walk around the lake and to the visitor center, we headed to check in at the hotel. We stayed at The Ridgeline Hotel.
After check-in we ate an early dinner at Hunter’s Chophouse and it was delicious! A definite must try in Estes Park.
According to the National Park Service, “Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles (265,807 acres) encompasses a spectacular range of mountain environments. From meadows found in the montane life zone to glistening alpine lakes and up to the towering mountain peaks, there is something for everyone to discover. Along the way explore over 300 miles of hiking trails and incredible wildlife viewing.”
We decided to go ahead and check out the sunset in Rocky Mountain National Park and try to get an idea of where we were going to go on Day 2. We entered at the Beaver Meadows Entrance and headed down Trail Ridge Road. We stopped at Rock Cut Overlook and Forest Canyon Overlook. It was quite cloudy, so didn’t get a spectacular showing, but still glad we rode out to see.
There are three entrances on the east side of the park, that can easily be accessed from Estes Park.
- Beaver Meadows: couple of miles from Estes Park; most popular park entrance. Trail Ridge Rd links the Beavers Meadow Entrance to the Grand Lake Entrance (distance of 46 miles).
- Falls River Entrance: 4 miles west of Estes Park on Hwy 34
- Wild Basin: 19 miles south of Estes Park
Everyday we used the Beavers Meadows entrance. It was just the most convenient to where we stayed.
Trail Ridge Road runs from the east to the west sides of the park. It is 46 miles long and it tops out above 12,000 feet, making it the Highest Paved Road in the US. Starting in October, this road is known to be closed due to weather conditions. Be sure to check before you go. Luckily it was open from Estes Park to Grand Lake while we were there.
With us going in mid October, the risk of snow and cold temperatures was real. We had to pack all kinds of gear for our treks.
Day 2 we woke up early, ate breakfast and headed to Sprague Lake to watch the sunrise. It was super cloudy again, so there wasn’t much to see, but it was still beautiful!
After Sprague Lake we headed to the Bear Lake Trailhead. We started our hike going to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and on to Emerald Lake. The clouds still didn’t want to part though. Finally on our hike back, the skies cleared! So I was able to take some photos where the skies were a beautiful clouded blue.
Once we got back to the Bear Lake Trailhead, we hiked around Bear Lake as well.
After this hike, we were ready to be off our feet for a while and we’re hungry, so we decided to drive Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake to check out the town and eat some lunch.
The weather changed from 38 to 63 throughout our day on Day 2. So it was T-shirt weather (63) in Grand Lake to sweatshirt and jacket weather in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park depending on which side of Trail Ridge Road we were on and the different elevations.
We ate at Sagebrush BBQ and Grill for lunch and then decided we hadn’t had enough hiking for the day, so we went to check out Adams Falls in Grand Lake. It is located outside of the gate to Rocky Mountain National Park, but is still a part of the National Park.
We drove Trail Ridge Road back to Estes Park, had a quick dinner and called it a night. Here are some photos from along Trail Ridge Road.
Day 3, another morning and another opportunity to watch the sunrise. We woke up and headed to Sprague Lake to watch the sunrise. It was 28 degrees and the skies we’re clear, but no show during the sunrise. I think the skies were too clear. There was ice on the lake that added interest to my photos and there were a few crows that were showing off for me.
After the sunrise we headed towards the Deer Mountain Trailhead to hike up to the Deer Mountain summit.
On the way to the trailhead, we saw deer and beautiful views with the clear skies.
Deer Mountain is rated at a moderate, but to me it seemed pretty strenuous. It’s marked as a 3.1 mile trail, but our watches measured it at 3.26 miles to the summit. On our way up and down we saw deer, turkeys, blue birds, and a ton of chipmunks.
Once we reached the summit the views were stunning! We had 360 degrees of views of the park. We rested, ate a snack and enjoyed the views. There were two chipmunks that seemed to like us or want our food, one. Of course we didn’t feed them, but that didn’t stop them from begging and trying to sneak our food.
After our hike, we checked out the visitors center. We could see the top of Deer Mountain where we hiked to.
Then we headed to downtown Estes Park to eat lunch and buy some souvenirs. We ate lunch at Himalayan Curry & Kabob and then we strolled the downtown area. Had some delicious butter chicken and garlic naan.
We went back to the hotel and showered and rested. Once we relaxed for a little while, we headed back out for dinner. We ate at Smokin Dave’s BBQ and Brew.
Day 4 we woke up and headed to see the sunrise at Sprague lake again. Hoping for a better showing that the other 2 days. We did see a moose, elk and a ton of deer.
After checking out the lake, we headed back to the airport.
Will check in Friday after my weigh in!! Hopefully after over 20 miles of hiking, my weight will be down!