Rocky Mountains - Monday 14th May 2012

Published: May 16th 2012
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Today we have a full day tour of the Rocky Mountains

We awake early and have breakfast at 07:30. The coach picks us up at around 08:30 and we are heading for the Rocky mountain National Park. Pur first stop is Boulder which appears to be a University campus town. We see pleny of "Prairie Dogs" along the way, which appear to be a cross between a stoat and a mongoose.

We head for Estes Park, which is at the gateway to the National Park. We stop at the Stanley Hotel, which was the basis for Stephen King’s “The Shining”. The film was actually made in a hotel in California (Much to the annoyance of Stephen King). Although the bar in the Stanley Hotel does look very much like the one featured in the film.

We carry on up into the National Park. We are taking regular stops to allow people to acclimatize to the altitude. It tends to affect you by making you light-headed and dizzy, and also short of breath.

The next stop is the Fall River Visitors Centre, where some people have ordered sandwiches, wee are saving ourselves for lunch and trying to cut down on the food intake. We see Humming Birds feeding at the rear of the restaurant.

One of the main features of this tour (apart from the beautiful countryside) is the opportunity to see the wild life. The wildlife that habitats the Rockies includes;

• Black Bear
• Mountain Lion
• Coyote
• Elks
• Moose
• Pin Marten
• Chipmunks
• And those sheep with long curly horns!! , And many more

The tour is spent trying to spot these various animals. We see plenty of Elk, but no moose. At our next stop I see a Chipmunk and a bird, which I later find out, is a Clarks Nutcracker (Never heard of it before)

We carry on winding our way up Trail Ridge Road with great views on either side. At Rock Cut we have a stop at our highest point which is a height of 12,110 ft. I get off the coach for a walk around, you only have to go but a few steps before you feel light headed and dizzy due to the altitude. I get some pictures of a Marmot sunbathing on a rock.

We now start to head downhill, making our way to a place called Grand Lake.

We stop at a sign that marks the "Continental Divide" the theory is that if rain falls on one side of the divide it will end up in the Atlantic, if it falls on the other side it ends up in the Pacific!

We arrive and Grand Lake, it is a lovely place. It is small, just a main street lined with small restaurant and shops. There are boardwalks for sidewalks. The place appears to be just switching over from winter resort mode (skiing etc.) to summer resort mode. (Trail walking, mountain biking, kayaking etc.).

We have a wander round doing a bit of window-shopping. And decide to get lunch from a small bakery; we have soup and sandwiches to go. And eat down by the lake in the glorious sunshine. (The weather has taken a turn for the better and temperatures in the 80’s are forecast for the rest of the week for Denver. In Grand Junction were we are heading tomorrow, the forecast is for 89 degrees F.)

While we are sitting there some form of Hawk swoops down and makes a big splash in the lake in an unsuccessful attempt to catch a fish. I get some photographs of the bird, but I am unsure what it is. It turns out to be an Osprey!!

We stop at Grand Lake for approximately an hour and then make our way back to Denver. We have effectively completed a loop of the Rockies National Park. We have been lucky this is the first day that the Trail Ridge Road has been fully open after the winter enabling us to complete this loop, we have seen quite a bit of snow left on the tops of the mountain.

I think that I would like to walk some of the trails in the Rockies National Park, but after reading the rangers advice on how to deal with Bears or Mountain Lions that you might meet, I am not too sure. It tells you to stand your ground, bang pots and pans to scare them off. And finishes with if they should attack then you should fight back!!!

On our way back to Denver we pass through the old Gold and Silver mines, which nowadays are derelict and lie abandoned

We arrive back at the Warwick Hotel at 17:30 and go to the bar for a few drinks. We decide to have an easy evening and call room service.

We have an early start in the morning so we call it a day at around 21:30 after a really good day!!

Additional photos below
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