We visited Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver for the day, leaving around 8am to make the most of the trip. Rather than take the same route twice, we decided to drive in a loop to visit the National Park, and enter it from the west end. I picked out lookouts and stops from my guide book, Lonely Planet Rocky Mountains, and would highly recommend taking it along.
We drove towards Winter Park, a popular ski resort in the winter, and Lake Granby, before entering the west end of the park.
After entering the park, our first stop was the Coyote Valley trail, a 2 mile flat walk, along side the Colorado river. It was amazing spring weather, and we were even able to spot some elk.
We continued to drive on the main road through the park, the Trail Ridge road, as it climbed into the mountains. The higher we climbed, the more it was covered in snow.
Soon, we were at the highest point on the Road. It had started snowing, and we spent some time playing around in the snow.
We did not stop at many of the lookouts near the top, since it was pretty cold. We stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center for some lunch. The bathrooms were outside the visitor center, and standing in the cold & freezing rain, made the hot soup after taste so good! After lunch, we continued driving down the trail ridge road, which started descending again. The colors around us changed from white to green!
We took the detour towards Fall River Road, and stopped at the Alluvial Fan. There was a trail to the Horseshoe waterfalls, which was just the hike we needed.
We must have spent at least an hour, sitting on the rocks, watching the water cascades tumbling around us. We drove to our last stop in the National Park, Bear Lake. It was still cold here, and the lake (and trail) were frozen. We didn’t spend too much time here.
We drove to the town of Estes Park, which is the eastern entrance to the National Park. For dinner, we went to the amazing Nepal’s Cafe restaurant. It was some of the best Indian/Nepalese food I’ve eaten. The service was incredibly slow, but everything we ordered (vegetarian fritters, channa masala) tasted fresh. Estes Park also seemed like a really cool town, and I would have loved to spend a couple nights here some other time.
Our drive back to Denver was uneventful. We went straight to bed, since we had an early morning flight to catch. That ended our short trip to Denver, and the Rockies!