Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wheatland, WY to Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park, CO)

Sept. 15th we wrapped up our two free nights of camping in Wheatland, Wyoming.  The campsites were bare bones and the rest of the park was primarily a recreational site with athletic fields, skateboard park, tennis courts etc. It really was a very nice facility located in a relatively modest community. Our first night there was uneventful.  We awoke the next morning to a COLD rainy day.  Regardless, we bundled up and went to see the Guernsey State Park.  It's a large rambling area that includes the Platte River, lots of pretty scenery,

 some wildlife,

and a museum.  The museum building may have been the star attraction.  It's an impressive stone building built by the CCC in 1939.  And it actually contains the original exhibits from 1939.  Very interesting.

Upon leaving the park we drove up the road to an area where you can view remnants of ruts left behind from the Oregon Trail.

It was a nice outing for the four of us.  COLD, but nice!

Thursday morning we got under way early because we needed to be in Loveland, CO by noon because I had an appointment at Lenscrafters to get new glasses.  We didn't expect a bargain but we needed to make this happen quickly.  That went well.  My choice of glasses was a conservative, practical pair.  However, Debbie and the nice Lenscrafter lady had something else in mind.  They prevailed!  We had a great lunch at an Italian restaurant before we left the mall location.  As we departed the restaurant we ran into Terri, who was our interim Volunteer Coordinator 350 miles away back in Spearfish!  We all gushed about what a coincidence! We then continued on to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Our arrival at Estes Park, CO, adjacent to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) went smoothly.  The campground is nothing special but the surrounding area is magnificent!   Friday morning we motored to the park entrance, bought an annual pass for National Parks and entered a scenic paradise.

RMNP encompasses over 350 square miles, holds 72 peaks above 12,000 feet of elevation with the highest, Longs Peak, topping out at 14,259 feet!  What can I say?  The mountains are enormous, many are snow capped and wildlife is everywhere.  Here's a few of our first day sightings.

Least Chipmunk

Clark's Nutcracker

Stellar Jay


Mountain Bluebird

Our primary destination was the Trail Ridge Road that travels 48 miles from the east entrance to Grand Lake on the west side.  We expected our drive to last all day.  There are endless opportunities to stop and gawk!

 But we only completed about a third of the drive when we ran into SNOW at about 10,000 feet!!!! 

The driving was still manageable but visibility was nil.

And it was COLD!!

So we turned around.  We'll do it again on Saturday.  But all was not lost.  Once we reach a lower elevation the weather was again clear so we continued to wander about.

 And then the elk appeared! 

The elk are in rut or they're rutting or they want to rut....I don't know how best to use the word but you get the picture.  The boys are in an uproar and they want some action with the ladies.  So the dominant buck runs off any competing bucks,  gathers a harem of  like 15-20 or maybe 30 female elk and waits for the mood to strike.  It's really an impressive sight!  By the end of our visit to RMNP we had seen hundreds of elk and had witnessed the  the scenario unfolding repeatedly.  Pretty darn cool! 


1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures! Absolutely beautiful! We can't wait to go there! So excited for you guys...sad we are at the end of our "adventure". Will start planning our next one when we get home! Love and miss you guys!