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.

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Rocky Mountain National Park is 101 Years Old Today

The most visited of Colorado’s four National Parks is 101 years old today.   Rocky Mountain National Park came to exist January 26, 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill creating our National Park.

We love Rocky Mountain National Park

We love Rocky Mountain National Park

This park has many attractions; the most notable is Trail Ridge Road.   This road, connecting the towns of Grand Lake on the west and Estes Park on the east, reaches 12,183 feet and crosses the Continental Divide.   The road, US 34 is the highest continuous highway in the United States.   Trail Ridge Road closes in the winter, due to snow.    Rocky Mountain National Park has much wildlife, including large elk herds, prompting Estes Park to hold Elk Fest every fall.   Hiking, mountain climbing and camping are just a few activities enjoyed by park visitors.

When in Colorado we hope you visit all of our National Parks:   Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Mesa Verde National Park.

Colorado Duck in Rocky Mountain National Park with Zeb in the summer snow

Living near Denver, a day in the mountains is very common and very enjoyable.   My human calls it a mini vacation.  Since she is retired, we have lots of mini vacations.  We drove to Grand Lake, the western entrance to the national park.  Before entering the park, we visited Quackers Gifts.

Quacker Gift Shop Grand Lake, Colorado

Quacker Gift Shop Grand Lake, Colorado

This is a small gift shop dedicated to my kind.  The shop features many rubber ducks, several smaller than I am, but very cute ducks.  Holiday ducks, specialty ducks and even celebrity ducks.  There is a second store in Manitou Springs, near Colorado Springs.  Definitely go to Quackers Gifts if possible, or visit www.quackergiftshop.com

Entering Rocky Mountain National Park at Grand Lake, we followed Trail Ridge Road to Trail Ridge Store and Café at 11,796 feet above sea level.

Trail Ridge Store in Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Store in Rocky Mountain National Park

This is the visitor center, but not the highest point on this road.  Trail Ridge is the highest continuous highway in the United States.  You should drive it, in the summer.  Lots of snow falls here in the winter.

I'm in a 5 foot snow bank in Rocky Mountain National Park

I’m in a 5 foot snow bank in Rocky Mountain National Park

My human put me in this snowdrift.  Snow is cold!

Leaving the visitor center, we saw herds of elk lounging on the Alpine landscape.

Herd of elk lounging at 11,000 feet in Rocky Mt National Park

Herd of elk lounging at 11,000 feet in Rocky Mt National Park

We are above tree line here.  Elk like cooler temperatures in summer, so they go to higher elevations.

Beautiful Elk

Beautiful Elk

Cooler it was.  We needed jackets.  Silly elk, I like warm summer days.

There are many hiking trails in the park.  Some are even paved to accommodate many people, and wheel chairs.  The park has lakes, streams, trails, mountain climbing and camping.  There are hiking trails through the Alpine tundra area.  Normally tundra is found in northern Alaska and areas with similar climates.  The scenery and wild animals are picture perfect.

One more majestic elk

One more majestic elk

This park is wonderful for one-day trips or several weeks camping, hiking, fishing and climbing.  We only spent a few hours here, but it is beautiful.  I, Zeb, will return.

Trail Ridge Road took us to Estes Park where my human rushed to the Taffy Shop.

Pulling Taffy in Estes Park, Colorado

Pulling Taffy in Estes Park, Colorado

The shop has this machine to pull taffy.  There are many flavors and the humans love it.  My mom’s favorite is Texas Pecan.

Rocky Mountain National Park is about 2 hours from Denver.  You can enter from either Estes Park or Grand Lake.  Both are beautiful mountain towns.  Each town has shopping, motels, restaurants, hiking trails, rafting, horse rides and each town has a lake.  I love them both and I think you would also.  Visit in summer or winter, but Trail Ridge Road connecting the two towns is closed in the winter.  Way too much snow.  See you in the park soon.