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Friday, September 21, 2007

Rocky Mountain National Park

What is there to do in Colorado? Visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park of course! So that's what I did last Tuesday. From Boulder it was a one hour drive to the entrance of the national park near Estes Park. The first thing I saw after entering the park was a flock of moose!
Taking the Old Fall River Road, being the first auto route in Rocky Mountain National Park offering access to the park's high country, which is still a kind of motor nature trail today, gave me plenty of opportunity to stop and enjoy the view as well as do a bit of hiking in between. By the way, the allowed speed limit was 15mph, but I rarely drove more than 5 or 10! In the end it took me almost three hours for this 9 mile journey, but it was time well invested.
One of the highlights was reaching the top at Fall River Pass. At ~2000 miles above sea level this place is above the tree line and the only thing growing are small shrubberies, giving the landscape a semblance of the tundra found in the Arctic. The temperature and wind that was blowing was pretty "arctic" as well and I was very glad about my wind-proof jacket.
Taking the more modern and paved Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest continuous paved road in the nation, back down I next visited Bear Lake. On the way there I happened to spot another flock of elk, this time they were closer to the road, resulting in nice pictures (coming soon, once I'm back in Switzerland).
Hiking around Bear Lake was very relaxing, however, I didn't spot any more wildlife (except a couple of birds and squirrels). Nevertheless, hiking was worth it just for seeing the scenery. Visiting four small lakes within two hours was very interesting and I even stumbled upon an Ent!
On my way back I saw even more elk, this time grazing just a couple of feet beside the road; they weren't disturbed by the traffic and the tourists at all!

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