The other day, I had a few days off, so headed south to RMNP. I had never been there, and would only be able to spend one day touring the park, so I hoped for the best. I enjoyed the park and would probably like to do more hikes at another time. In Estes Park, I made a friend...
Trail Ridge Road is the one paved road that crosses the park. It is often covered in snow, but was open when I went. However, a friend told me about a gravel road that stays down in a valley for a while, then ascends to link up with Trail Ridge at the Alpine Visitor's Center. My plan was to drive this gravel road (Old Fall River Road) and then return along the paved road. It worked very well.
OFR is a very well maintained gravel road, and I saw lots of other folks along the way. There was no need (at least when I was there) to have a truck or Jeep, because I saw lots of family sedans making the trip. Bad weather might change this, but that day, it was good. It is a one-way road, so once you start, you're committed, but there were also places where you could pull off and rest a bit or shoot photos or investigate a creek, so it's not a bad way to get to the top. Here are a few pictures I took along the way.
Once at the top, you can park at the Visitor Center (if you're lucky enough to find a parking place). Behind the VC, there's a short path up a hill where you top out at 12,000 feet! That is quite a climb if you're from the lowlands, but the views from the top draw you on.
On my way down that afternoon, I ran into a mild thunderstorm, and enjoyed how it changed the views - instead of blue skies and puffy white clouds, there were dark clouds and rain. I'm glad it happened.
Once down, I was able to hike in and around Bear Lake and got inspired and did the extra half mile to Nymph Lake.
Then, at Nymph Lake...
I got back to Estes Park about sundown and was done for the night... Goodnight Road, Goodnight Peaks; Goodnight Lakes, Goodnight Creeks.