Rocky Mountain holds a special place in my heart, because it was the first large national park I ever visited. I was a college student at the time. As a child growing up, my family didn't travel much, so I hadn't had a chance to see a place like this before. I remember very well my first sight of snow-capped mountains after a lifetime of living at lower elevations. Something I read once compared this first sight of the Rockies to a boy's first sight of an undressed girl. That may be stretching it, but you get the idea of how stirring it can be.
It doesn't seem to me that the park is quite as crowded nowadays as it was then, but that may just be my failing memory. Certainly summer weekends are crowded because of the proximity to the Denver metropolitian area, but I have often found campground space available late in the day on weekdays in July and August. By far the the majority of visitors to this park are drive-through, taking three or four hours to travel the Trail Ridge road with a couple of stops to enjoy the scenery. Nothing wrong with that- I do it myself a lot, especially if I'm driving across the country. Either from Interstate 70 or 80, I consider it worth the detour to take a drive through.
But of course, it's better to stay a while. Either casual hikers of serious mountaineers won't run out of places to go or things to see in a lifetime.
Almost any stop along the Trail Ridge Road will find a Clark's Nutcracker bumming (or stealing) food from the tourists. These birds are very agressive and can make off with a whole sandwich if given the chance.
Visit the official site.
Favorite hike: Lawn Lake.
Favorite place to stay:Estes Park Campground. A small private campground that caters to tents and small vehicles- no big RV's.
Favorite place to sit for hours: Overlooking the eastern part of the park from the Fall River Road.
While in the area visit: Not really "in the area" but I'd recommend that westbound travelers follow US 40 to Dinosaur National Monument rather than heading up to I-80. I also highly recommend the area along hwy. 14 north of the park and west of Fort Collins as an excellent way to get away from the bustle of the park and still enjoy the Rockies.
Read: My Pioneer Life, by Abner Sprague. Many of Sprague's non-politically correct remarks will upset modern readers, but this is a good account of Rocky Mountain Life in the 19th century.
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