Today we ventured into Rocky Mountain National Park, opting for a driving tour of Trail Ridge Road, the most heavily traveled highway in any national park. Covering 48 miles between Estes Park and Grand Lake, the highest continuous paved road in the United States leads to thrilling views, wildlife sightings and more than 200 species of alpine wildflowers that bloom only 40 days a year.
Soon after entering the park, we found ourselves above the treeline amid alpine tundra. Weather conditions were breezy and cool, with intense sun. Yet we experienced sweeping vistas filled with life and color. Although alpine, the terrain was abloom with yellow, red, pink, blue, purple and white wildflowers. We were delighted to come upon a herd of elk munching greenery in the forest-rimmed meadow.
Cliff suggested we climb to the summit at more than 12,000 feet. Jon agreed, on the condition that they stop every 30 feet or so to “take in the view.” The strategy paid off for both Jon and Cliff because they not only reached the summit alive but also arrived back at their vehicle without need of a respirator.
A trip to the grocery story was soon followed by a “proper” cocktail hour and a dinner of grilled game hens.
We learned a few things along the way that are worth sharing:
- Overweight women should not try mountain climbing while holding an infant.
- Children are inexhaustible.
- Yeti cups keep beer frosty cold through even the most strenuous hikes.