Trail Ridge Road just opened for the park’s centennial summer.
Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park between Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west is one of the country’s iconic drives. Cresting at an elevation of 12,183 feet, the road is usually plowed out by Memorial Day. But not this year — the park’s centennial — when high road opened today but with probably night-time closures for a while. The snows have been coming, and the plows and shovelers are still at it.
The park’s centennial celebrations kicked off in low gear last fall, were confined largely to historic exhibits, workshops, presentations and such that lent themselves to indoor venues. An RMNP exhibit will continue for some indefinite time at the History Colorado Center in Denver, the state’s wonderful historic museum.
With the approach of summer, summer events are coming into view. A group of Model T enthusiasts plans to car-camp in August with old-style canvas tents; the Colorado Mountain Club is organizing a series of hikes, climbs and wildflower walks, and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy has a passel of commemorative activities planned too, including a John Denver tribute concert by local musician Brad Fitch in Estes Park on July 25 and in Grand Lake on August 1.
Click here FoMoInfo on Centennial celebrations, which conclude with a rededication of the park at Glacier Basin Campground on September 4, the Friday before Labor Day. I plan to be there. You too?
Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park were our choice for celebrating in 2012
My husband and I (often with friends too) drive up to Estes Park every year around this time to experience the annual elk rut, as mating season is called, during which bull elk consolidate their herds, do battle with other males and emit haunting calls known as bugling. In September and October, the elk are at lower elevations. We often see them in town, along the roadways around town, on the golf course and on the broad lawn of the historic Stanley Hotel — as well as in such areas of Rocky Mountain National Park as Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, Beaver Meadows and along the lower part of Fall River Road.
Blue skies, brilliant sunshine, the last few wildflowers ot the season and trailside elk
The siren call of Rocky Mountain National Park lured my husband and me to the high country again today — or maybe it was the mating call of the bull elk during the fall rut that got to us. The high-pitched whining called “bugling” reaches across meadows and echos in mountain valleys. In the afternoon and early evening, the elk emerge from the forest with the bulls seducing and the cows ready to be seduced. Sometimes, it is almost dusk before the first few emerge from the trees and pitch dark before an appreciable number have gathered. Other times, like today, when they come out in broad daylight.
We hiked Upper Beaver Meadows and saw our first elk just a couple of hundred yards from the trailhead. One magnificent bull elk was lying right at the edge of the trail. We walked by him quietly, guardedly watching him watch us. We saw the last herd causing an elk jam on US 36 after we left the park.
Next weekend October 2-3, the town of Estes Park celebrates Elk Fest with eats, entertainment and elk enlightenment in Bond Park, downtown. But every afternoon and evening is elk fest in the National Park. And come winter, you’ll often see elk grazing on the golf courses, in people’s yards and on the broad lawns of the Stanley Hotel. For more informaton, call 970-586-6104.
Award-winning travel blog. Colorado-based Claire Walter shares travel news and first-hand destination information from around the corner, around the country and around the world.