2012-09-24 RMNP - Fall River Road to Alpine VC

We had heard of this drive but never had a chance to do it on our last visit. A very easy drive for a passenger car; the 9-mile one-way (up hill) road has lots of switchbacks but is smooth and well-maintained. It was a bit tougher to make the switchbacks in our truck (22ft long, road limit is 25ft). We had to back up a few times to make the turns.

Unfortunately, the Chasm Falls Trail was closed for trail maintenance, but do make sure you stop to see this, which is said to be the best falls on the east side of RMNP. Fall River Road / Chasm Falls

Fantastic views and dramatic change from valley floor to top of the continental divide.This makes a great scenic loop, from Estes going up Fall River Rd and down Trail Ridge Road back into Estes.

Pics from Fall River Road - Trail Ridge Road

2012-09-24 RMNP - Bear Lake and Alberta Falls

We've hiked up to Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake before, plus we also did the hike from Bear Lake over to Cub Lake / Moraine Park last time we were here. This day we just strolled around Bear Lake and then went up to Alberta Falls / Glacier Gorge. We were heading up towards Mills Lake but the sky was getting dark so we headed back.

I remembered the fantastic aspen grove on Alberta Falls trail from 2 years ago, so this was a must see in the fall. A really good choice for fall colors!

pics from RMNP Alberta Falls - fall colors!

2012-09-23 Estes Park Autumn Gold Festival

This free festival was pretty good, really enjoyed Cowboy Brad Fitch (does a lot of John Denver tunes) and the Wendy Woo band. info on the Autumn Gold festival The park downtown is a easy walk down the river from our lodge, nice to avoid the traffic and parking mess (which is always the case on weekends).
Pics from festival, around Estes

2012-09-20 Rocky Mtn - Wild Basin hike

We asked some locals where they recommended for good fall color, and they sent us to Wild Basin area. RMNP - Wild Basin info  This is back on the Peak to Peak Highway about 8 miles or so south of Estes Valley. It is part of the national park, thus requires fee or pass, same as the primary park area. We hiked the Ouzel Falls trail, including other falls and cascades along the way. So glad we took this hike - the colors were beautiful and the hike very pleasant. The waters in the creeks, cascades and waterfalls were all very low, due to the drought. This is a popular area so trailhead parking fills up early!

We saw a mule deer on the road in, but the ranger told us there were two moose there earlier in the morning....darn it, we missed them!

pics from Wild Basin - Ouzel Falls Trail

2012-09-18 CO Rocky Mtn NP, Estes Elk

We took a drive into Rocky Mountain National Park. It was unbelievably brown and dry compared to our last visit 2 years ago. Still, great to see the fall colors starting to show.

Then we stopped at Estes Lake to walk the trail and perhaps see some elk. Turns out they're not kidding, the elk really do live down here in the fall. Big herds and constant bugling. It was quite entertaining to watch the big bull elk, never a moment to rest...round up the girls, chase off the boys...woops, now round up the girls again....

Some pics from RMNP and Estes Park

2012-09-16 Estes Park - Crags Lodge

We lucked out and found a "free" place to stay. Using our Diamond Resorts timeshare, the Historic Crags Lodge in Estes Park had a week open for us in a 1-bedroom unit, and RV parking! So we will hunker down here while we decide on a fall / winter location...

Upon entering Estes Park, the welcoming committee came out to say hello. Right there at the turn onto the main drag - there was a 10-point bull elk! And I'm not talking about the statue. (I heard elk regularly walk through town here.)

Our lodge was built by the "father of Rocky Mountain National Park", Enoch "Joe" Mills, in 1914. They just remodeled the pool area and put in a hot tub....nice! The staff has been very helpful, and it's a good jumping off point to explore RMNP.

Pics on the way into Estes Park

2012-09-14 Two Days in the Valley

On our way to Estes Park, we stopped for 2 nights in Peaceful Valley. Info on Peaceful Valley  Wow, the fall colors are really coming on strong! A nice little campground, leads into Camp Dick which is much larger (and slightly less peaceful)  - lots of 4-wheelers, it can be noisy and hectic.Info on Camp Dick  This is a very popular spot because of the 4-wheel drive roads and the great hiking trails (some of which can be hazardous - I believe two people have died on the trails from Camp Dick this summer). It was a easy one-mile stroll up the Buchanan Pass trail from Peaceful Valley to Camp Dick, which I walked the evening we arrived. Info on Buchanan Pass Trail

Surprised to learn they have not spotted a bear in Camp Dick since June. Where are all the bears??? According to the news, they are down in the suburbs of Boulder and Golden where the eatin's good, which can be very unfortunate for the bears. bears visiting Golden,  bear in Boulder

We really enjoyed our 2 night stay, hiked up to Timberline Falls, and enjoyed an evening around the campfire with fellow hosts Miles and Adina who are taking over these two campgrounds starting Monday through the end of October (in addition to Rainbow Lakes which they have been managing all summer).

pics from Peaceful Valley

2012-09 End of summer at Kelly Dahl

We started out September with a dog. It was just a one night stand but of course I fell in love! Someone found this lab mix running on the highway just outside Kelly Dahl, and brought him to us. We took him in temporarily, thinking he might live in the immediate area or even belong to a camper. It was labor day afternoon; I posted found dog ads on Craigslist, boulder humane, etc., while Gary posted a sign on the highway and searched in Ned for lost dog signs. No luck. We brought this doggie into our RV for one night. Housebroken, impeccable manners, very sweet, lovable, we called him "Ned".

Such a terrific dog, we knew someone had to be missing him! First thing the next morning, we took him to the Ned vet; yes, he had a chip. I was simultaneously thrilled for his family, and crying because I had grown very attached in just one evening. (this is why it is best I avoid shelters...) Anyway, his owner came by later to thank us - an elderly gentleman who lives the next road south of us, on Shoshoni near the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat. He said he has no fence, and has trained the dog that he can "only go to the lake to swim, and never to the highway".  With this dog, I believe that might really be possible. I hope Ned (whose real name is Miller) stays home and away from the highway from now on.

We tried to see a few more sights in our last weeks at Kelly Dahl, but mostly kept busy in the campground. On a quick evening trip down the mountain, I went by the Century theater in Aurora and saw the memorial; there was nowhere to park except a couple blocks away and it was dark, so just got pics from the roadway.

pics from Kelly Dahl area and Aurora

2012-08 A quick visit to Idaho Springs

The day we drove up Mt Evans, we also toured the little town of Idaho Springs. We toured the Indian Hot Springs (indoors, not really to our liking) link to Indian Hot Springs, had lunch at a pizza place in town (no comparison to Woody's in Golden!), and walked down the main drag. The old train engine and water wheel were both worth the stop. City of Idaho Springs

pics from Idaho Springs, CO

2012-08 Mount Evans - don't miss it!

The Mount Evans scenic byway is a road to the top of one of Colorado's 53 "fourteeners". It is the highest paved road in North America, and is listed by some as the number one attraction in Denver area. http://www.mountevans.com/  It is well worth the $10 fee charged by the forest service (National Park Annual Pass gets you in for free), and worth going out of your way for! Wow, what a view! If you get vertigo, standing at the top and looking down at Summit Lake might make you swoon. But you can always just hang around the parking area and visit with the mountain goats...

Spectacular views on the road to Mt Evans

Mid-August afternoon at Estes Park

On our second trip to Estes Park, we stopped by St. Malo's Chapel on the Rock, built with native stone and the magnificent backdrop of Longs Peak. Chapel on the Rock  We also spent a few minutes at Eagle Plume's which is all authentic native american arts & crafts. Their basket collection is amazing! http://www.eagleplume.com/  While Gary fished Estes Lake with his little Zodiak boat, I did laundry (why is it he always has fun while I work?), then I cruised the main shopping district (mobbed as usual) and stopped in a local thrift shop. Estes is a busy place, a bit too congested for my tastes! But the surrounding scenery is spectacular.

Estes Park area

2012-08-13 Mitchell Lake at Brainard Lakes Rec Area

This was a short hike just to get a way for a few hours  Mitchell Lake Trail....we never did have time to do the longer hikes at Brainard. Maybe some year! I've heard Lake Isabell, Blue Lake, and Pawnee Pass are all fantastic. See Blue Lake

There are so many more hikes to do!

Pics from Mitchell Lake Trail, Brainard Lakes Rec Area

2012-08 Scenery around Ned - Caribou, Rainbow Lakes

We had only a few hours to get away most of the time, so we toodled around Nederland area, up to Rainbow Lakes info on Rainbow Lakes , Caribou ghost town link to Caribou info, and the general vacinity of Nederland.

Had an hour or so at Miner's Days on a Sunday, firemen having a hose and barrel contest; spent a couple hours at the Gilpin County Fair, and a Sunday afternoon at NedFest which was a fantastic music festival. Lots of fun activities to do during the summer in Boulder and Gilpin counties. The Gilpin County Community Center ( http://gilpinrecreation.com/ ) is incredible with lap pool, big water slide, indoor basketball courts, gym and running track....guess that's one good thing Black Hawk and Central City casinos contribute to the county, in addition to the Public Library http://www.gilpinlibrary.org/ . I think Gilpin County would be a great place to live.

Scenery around Ned - Caribou, Rainbow Lakes

Ned area - Festivals and Fairs

2012-07-12 - Crater Lakes Hike from Moffatt Tunnel

This was one of our favorite hikes of the summer. Crater Lakes Trail The trail is mostly shaded and follows south Boulder Creek for 2 miles, then cuts off to the right another 1-2 miles up to Crater Lakes. Gorgeous area, wildflowers in bloom, and several lakes to enjoy. We headed out early and headed back down when clouds were threatening, as is common in the summer afternoons.

Pics - CO Crater Lakes Trail