Rocky Mountain National Park 2011 - Page 1

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One of the vacation activities Sandy and I enjoy greatly is visiting national parks and similar recreational areas. In addition to the sightseeing and scenic photography opportunities, we enjoy mountain trail hiking.

We define mountain trail hiking as that which is on terrain which is not on level ground or paved trails. Typically changes in elevation are involved and the degree of change varies with the trail and the location..

Rocky Mountain National Park is in Colorado. North of the Denver area, the town of Estes Park is just outside the park on the east side. We stayed at a small motel in Estes Park and every morning before sunup we were heading into the park for a day of hiking, sightseeing, photography and our much desired goal of spotting and photographing moose.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a relatively high elevation park with many of the trails at between 7,000 to 10,000 feet with some even higher.

We drove to Estes Park from home and arrived about mid day on the second day of driving. After checking into our motel, we were not going to let the rest of the day go to waste but rather headed directly into the park for a few short distance hikes and initial exploration.

We stayed at one of the greatest little motels we have ever run across in our travels. Saddle & Surrey Motel. Located on St. Vrain Ave on the south side of Estes Park. It is NOT a five star chocolate on the pillow with concierge hotel. That's not what we look for on our trips. We want a comfortable, clean bed in a clean room with working amenities to come back to from a long day of hiking or other day long activates.

We rented a kitchenette which, like the other rooms, is in a separate "cabin". It is a motel, not a hotel. Convenient and affordable. We'd stay there again on any future trips to Estes Park.


The camera equipment used on this trip was the Canon 40D dSLR. Lenses consisted of a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 wide angle lens and for long distance shots, Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM telephoto. Also used was a Canon PowerShot G12 camera.
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Our first day in the park. September 2011. In just a couple of weeks much of the park roads will be closed as Autumn weather comes quickly to this area and snow can appear at any time from now on in the higher elevations.

A number of small lakes exists within the park. Many of them have hiking trails surrounding them.

The trails around the lakes allow for many different scenic views to be seen. Sandy is becomming accustomed to using the Canon G12 and with each outing, she is shooting more and better photographs of her own.
 

 

 

 
       

With Sandy having her own camera now and becoming more accustomed to using it, I will probably show up more in these photo collections.

  This is the sort of trail we love to hike on.  
       
  It's important to wear good shoes or boots on terrain like this. There is a lot of stepping over, on top of, and around rocks.   Once back to Estes Park we tried out a little local restaurant called "American Grill." Nothing to comment on. Each night we will try a different restaurant in town.

Day 2. We arrived in the park not long after 6 AM so we are able to witness a gorgeous sunrise.

There is only one road connecting the west side and east side of the park. Trail Ridge Road and it passes over areas which are above the tree line and at its peak reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet (3713 m).

On this morning we were heading over to the west side of the park and caught sight of this bull elk standing on the slopes above us. I stopped the car and pulled off to the side of the road to catch some photos.

He simply stood there for a while, looking around. Occasional he would trumpet in his bellowing voice.

Soon we saw, from the rocks above him, his herd came out of hiding where they had spent the night in safety. Now they walked down the slope some distance and then the bull joined them and they wandered off toward the west where apparently they would have feeding grounds for the day.

Elk are plentiful in Rocky Mountain National Park and we saw many of them. This one was seen in the valley area along the Colorado River on the west side of the park.

Kawuneeche Valley bordering on the west side of the park. The Colorado River runs through here.

 

The pine squirrel or chickaree. A small tree squirrel seen throughout the park and other parts of Colorado. Noisy, with chattering and stomping in an intent to get trail visitors to go away. Not far outside the west entrance on Hwy 34 is the town of Grand Lake and two lakes. Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake. This view is from the Hwy 34 side of Shadow Mountain Lake.
Another couple of views of the area by Shadow Mountain Lake.   We spent a little while around the town of Grand Lake looking at the small town and exploring a couple of small but scenic trails in the area. Sandy remained in the car here along side Hwy 34 as I got out and shot a couple of photos of the lake. This was Shadow Mountain Lake which is considerably larger than Grand Lake.  

All photos by Dan Dooley or Sandy Dooley

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