Tag Archives: Estes Park

Endless Winter in Colorado’s Iconic National Park

Trail Ridge Road just opened for the park’s centennial summer.

Logo_FINAL_BLUE_4CP_NEWTrail 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.

May 29, 2015, on Trail Ridge Road.
May 29, 2015, on Trail Ridge Road.
Still all sorts of snow at the Alpine Visitor Center.
Still all sorts of snow at the Alpine Visitor Center.
Aerial view of Trail Ridge Road today.
Looking down at Trail Ridge Road today.

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.

Rocky Mountain National Park artifacts and memorabilia.
Rocky Mountain National Park artifacts and memorabilia.

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?

Celebrating Our 19th ‘Elk-iversary’

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.

Bull elk at Moraine Park.

Continue reading Celebrating Our 19th ‘Elk-iversary’

Close Encounters of the Elk Kind

 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.

Interpretive sign at Upper Beaver Meadows trailhead.
We saw a small elk herd in the trees a short distance from the trailhead.
This magnificent bull elk lay down directly at the side of the trail. We weren't 10 feet him, but he seemed disinterested in us. Many aspens along the trail were still green. Some had started to turn. And this one blazed from among the conifers like a sentinel. With summer's abundance of wildflowers gone for 2010, each late September blossom is to be treasured.
Aspens
These tall, proud aspens are still showing a little green, but it's mostly gold against the brilliant sky. As we continued down the trail, mountain views were eye candy and the distant bugling of elk was music to our ears. We saw a few people near the trailhead and three horseback riders on our ascent, but no other humans in more than 5 miles. By the time we reached the road, elk-watchers had gathered.
The elk-watchers were soon rewarded as the herd began to gather in the meadow.
Shortly after we left the park, traffic stopped still. Turned out to be a small herd of elk munching the vegetation on the median and casually sauntering across the road.

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.