The Rocky Mountains – getting higher

From Boulder we headed to Festy Estes Park, which is the gateway to the Rocky Mountains National Park. When I was planning the trip, all the reviews told me that Estes Park is a ‘quaint resort town’ – I didn’t realize that quaint means the main street is filled with tshirt shops, outdoor shops, icecream parlors and Christmas shops!

A holiday isn’t complete until we’ve hiked at least 8 miles with no food and very little water. The Rockies certainly provided on the first day! We hiked to Fern Lake after driving to the park to check it all out – I thought it was 4 miles return, but it turns out it was 4 miles one way. Whoops.

At least the view was nice!

We went to The Wapiti Pub for dinner. I made the mistake of ordering a buffalo burger for dinner, the meat was nice to begin with but there was a half pound of mince in that burger! I think most tourists would think that’s a good thing…

Most places we’ve visited have been big on beer, it seems that everywhere here has a local brew. My relatively new found beer appreciation is definitely getting a workout here!

On Thursday we got up early and drove through the national park on the Trail Ridge Road. This road is the highest scenic road in America (it reaches over 12000 feet), and it normally reopens on Memorial Day. It actually reopened 2 weeks early this year because they had less snow than usual. There were still massive drifts on the sides of the road, but the road was completely cleared.

The views were incredible! We got above the tree line fairly quickly, and travelled over the tundra. It was crazy cold up there – the wind was insane.

We were lucky enough to see a few animals up there too:

The official scenic road ends up in Grand Lake, and turns into a regular highway. It was the perfect place for a break, and a brief change of scenery.

On the way back we stopped at the visitors centre, at 11799 feet. The pipes in the centre are still frozen, but it’s open for business.

It was an incredible day! Now I have definitely seen snow. The next step will be skiing.

When we got back down the mountain I decided to go for a run. I’m not sure how far it was, but it felt good.

One thing we’ve noticed here is less Asian influence with food. When we’re at home we normally eat stir fries, curries, rice dishes etc most nights. By Thursday night we were getting sick of burgers, pizza, Mexican, and generally American food so we went hunting for something different. We actually managed to find some decent Thai, and I had a delicious Thom Yum soup. It was so satisfying!

Up next: wild Wyoming.

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