Rocky Mountain National Park, CO: 8/14 – 8/24/20

We have been to Estes Park several times before, but this visit was different.  Estes Park means family since this is where Scott’s dad lived since 1995.  The last time we were here was in March of 2019, when we spread his dad’s ashes in Rocky Mountain National Park.   This time we did not see family.  And, because of Covid, entry into the National Park was limited between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.  You had to go online to purchase a daily pass with a two-hour time slot that would provide you entry.  Ninety percent of the day passes were sold out months prior. The remaining ten percent of the passes were posted on line (recreation.gov) 48 hours in advance.  So, at 8 a.m., you would sign on to purchase a pass for two days later.  The problem was that they were mostly gone is a matter of seconds.  We ended up getting four passes that gave us entry on Monday, 8/17, from 3 – 5 p.m., Wednesday, 8/19, from 2 – 4 p.m., Thursday, 8/20, from 3 – 5 p.m., and lastly, Sunday, 8/23, from 12 – 2 p.m.  Not ideal times for summit hikes. We didn’t learn until Tuesday that we could enter the Park before 6 a.m. or after 5 p.m., but you still needed a day pass posted on your dashboard to avoid fines if caught. This process was certainly new for us. Like everybody else, we made the best of it. Below is a sampling of our visits into RMNP.

Fern Lake Trail, Hiked 8.7 miles, 1,490’ elevation gain, 3:20 hours
Fern Lake
Start of Mount Ida Trail. Poudre Lake at left.
Summit of Mount Ida 12,880’ – 10 mile hike, 2,402’ Elevation Gain, 5:52 hours
Coming back down. Goodbye Ida.
View of Mount Ida (far center and right) from Trail Ridge Road

After Mount Ida’s hike, we took it slow and easy the next day with an easy, relaxing hike.

Cub Lake Trail, 4.6 mile hike, 551’ Elevation Gain, 2:08 hours

We had a pass to get into RMNP for 12-2 p.m. on our last day in Estes Park. We decided to drive through the park and take the kayaks out on Grand Lake, which is just outside the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is on the eastern side. It was mostly cloudy and only in the mid-seventies. There was a small group already hanging out, and we could see another kayaker in the water.

Getting ready to unload the toys.

We only lasted about 40 minutes on the water. It began to sprinkle and the skies became quite dark. We rode back to shore, got the toys back in the truck and the sun came out! We sat and talked with a couple that had just arrived with their inflatable boats and were actually going for a swim. They were from Michigan. LOL. That water was far too cold for my liking.

We left Grand Lake and entered the western side of RMNP for the ride along Trail Ridge Road to get back to the other side. We stopped briefly where we had sprinkled Scott’s dad’s ashes last year. It was here that we met a massive friend who took my breath away. Literally! We walked down a small path into the woods and found ourselves standing not 20 feet from a bull elk. We were standing behind a scrawny, little bush about 5’ tall, when this big boy stopped eating and looked straight at us. When he finally turned his gaze, Scott gave me the hand signal to start walking back towards the car. OMG!! Of course, we had left our phones in the car. So, Scott took my phone and walked back down the path to find our large friend. He is my brave boy.

It was time to say goodbye to Colorado. On our last night in Spruce Lake RV Park, there was an elk party going on. A parade of elk decided to walk around the campground. This is not unusual this time as year since the rut season is about to begin.

Behind the trees to the left was a hidden gem.
The Big Thompson River – My private swimming pool just 20 steps from our trailer.
Dinner at Bird & Jim’s

Next stop, Montana, the Big Sky County.

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