Over Trail Ridge Road with Zeb the Duck

A favorite summer drive for us includes visiting Winter Park, a stop at Grand Lake where we enter Rocky Mountain National Park.   We drive over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved highway in North America.  Exiting the national park at Estes Park we stay there for a little shopping and then return home.   It is a full day, but a wonderful day.   That is the plan for today.   First stop is Winter Park, Colorado.

Winter Park Resort

This is a mountain resort, skiing in the winter and many opportunities in the summer.   In the winter there is a ski train from Denver to Winter Park.   In the summer we love the Alpine Slide.

Alpine Slide, Winter Park Resort

It is hard for mom to get photos of this, but here you can see the half pipe track we use.   Also there is a rider on a sled at the end of the ride.   When we finish, we take our sled and hang it on the line so it can be taken back to the top of the ride.  We ride the ski chair lift to the top of the mountain, get off, walk a little way to get a sled, put our sled on the half pipe run, sit on sled, check our brakes and ride to the bottom of the mountain.   It is really fun!  We can make music here at Winter Park Village.

We can make music.

In the winter humans ice skate on the lake behind us.   Back in the car, we drive to Grand Lake, Colorado.   Grand Lake is the name of the town, but there is a lake, named Grand Lake here.

Boats available at Grand Lake

Hardy souls swim here, but we don’t want to swim in a cold mountain lake.   But these boats on Grand Lake are really fun.   Now let’s enter Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park, west entrance

This is one of four national parks in Colorado, and probably our favorite.   Here I, Zeb the Duck, am admiring the beautiful mountain scenery.

In Rocky Mountain National Park

You may notice dead trees behind me. The Pine Bark Beetle is killing many of our lodge pole pines.   This beetle epidemic is in Canada, the United States and into Mexico, killing trees in the forests.   This beetle epidemic has occurred several times in the past 500 years, but it is so sad to see so many dead trees.  I just love lakes.

Alpine Lake

This alpine lake is so beautiful and so serene.   Driving further up the mountain on Trail Ridge Road, we are now above timberline.

Above timberline. It is too high for trees to grow

The growing conditions at this altitude and temperatures are too severe for trees to grow.  You can see a lake and snow below us.   We were there in August, so this snow is from last winter.   Remember, the higher you go, the colder it gets, so snow in some areas doesn’t always melt during the summer.   On Trail Ridge Road we have experienced incredible mountain scenery.

Beautiful views

We climbed through alpine conditions.  Visited above timberline.   Stopped near Visitor’s Center.

Near Visitor’s Center

Passed through Arctic tundra.  We crossed the Continental Divide.

Crossing Continental Divide

Viewed landscaped shaped by volcanic activity.

All types of terrain here in Rocky Mountain National Park

And descended into the resort town of Estes Park.   We could spend days or more exploring this park and take thousands of stunning photos, but not today.   We enter Estes Park.

Welcome to Estes Park

We walk through town and of course mom always stops at Laura’s Fudge Shop and at the Taffy Shop.   At one of town, we watch the river and listen to the soothing sounds of water tumbling over the rocks.

Scenic river through Estes Park, Colorado.  This is a free photo from the internet.

We love this town and we love this drive.   When you visit Colorado, we encourage you to drive over Trail Ridge Road.

Independence Pass in Colorado

I, Zeb the Duck, and Soapy Smith Duck crossed Independence Pass this summer. In Colorado we have several mountain passes. Independence Pass crosses the Continental Divide.

We are almost at the top of the world

We are almost at the top of the world

Just to remind you, the water that is west of the continental divide flows to the Pacific Ocean. The water that is east of the continental divide flows to the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, all of the water does not reach the oceans as much goes for agriculture, for animal use and for human use.

Independence pass is 12,095 feet above sea level. You can see surrounding mountains are higher. This pass is closed in the winter. Today, in the summer, there is still snow on top of the mountains

This is snow is cold!

This is snow is cold!

and we are on top of the snow.

There are no trees up here. We are above timberline. That means the weather is too severe for trees to grow.

Windswept mountain top with summer snow

Windswept mountain top with summer snow

Timberline is determined by temperature and latitude.  Some times timberline is called tree line.

On either side of the pass, the streams, created by melting snow, are just beautiful. In Colorado we have many mountain passes and several cross the continental divide.

Melting snow gives us these cold streams

Melting snow gives us these cold streams

Zeb and Soapy just wanted to remind you about mountain passes and about the significance of the continental divide. Visit Colorado this summer. You will enjoy traveling through our mountains and passes and over the continental divide.