The trail ridge Road and Back to Denver

Published: June 21st 2013
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Trail Ridge Road and return to Denver

William on Trail Ridge RoadWilliam on Trail Ridge RoadWilliam on Trail Ridge Road

I took this near the summit of the Trail Ridge Road
Friday June 14 - Trail Ridge Road and back to Denver – Today I got up early and loaded up my truck with the stuff I had in the Bear Proof Bin and eased into Estes Park using the Hwy 34 bypass, for breakfast and Internet at MacDonalds. After checking out the Internet I slow rolled through Estes Park downtown for one last look for this trip and then went back on Hwy 34 again on the West side of town and went back into Rocky Mountain National Park at the Fall River Entrance. I continued on Hwy 34 past the Sheep Lakes being careful not to run over any Mountain Goats or tourist, and continued past the turn off for Old Fall River Road and the Alluvial Fan. When I reached the intersection of Hwy 34 and 36 at Deer Ridge Junction I turned right onto Hwy 34/ Trail Ridge Road. I climbed up on many switchbacks till I came to a large turnout with a spectacular overlook of most of the sights of the park. From the overlook you could see Estes Park in the distance, the Sheeps Lakes, Horseshoe Park, and the Alluvial Fan and Roaring River as
View from Trail Ridge RoadView from Trail Ridge RoadView from Trail Ridge Road

I took this from an overlook on Trail Ridge Road. It was a great view with Estes Park in the distance, Sheep Lakes, the Alluvial Fan, Horseshoe Park, and the Endovalley.
well as the Endovalley.

It was quite a view and one my pictures did not do justice to. I could also see some of the many switchbacks I had maneuvered getting up to the overlook. I believe this was the Rainbow Curve overlook but I’m not sure.

After enjoying a good bit of time at the Overlook I continued up the Trail Ridge Road. It started to get quite a bit cooler and windy. By the time I got to the Forest Canyon overlook there was a strong and cold wind blowing. The view from the Forest Canyon overlook was spectacular. There were several people walking around in shorts and t shirts freezing. How could anyone be stupid enough to wear shorts and a T-shirt while touring Trail Ridge Road ??!! Geeeze !

In any case the view from the Forest Canyon overlook of the Glacier carved canyon was awesome.

After getting a good look at Forest Canyon I continued up the road and pulled out on the Lava Cliffs overlook. The wind now was blowing so hard I almost couldn’t open the door of my truck to get out. The wind was seriously brisk as well.

So I managed to get out and held the door to slowly close it in the hard wind, but the wind was blowing so hard that it still slammed shut. I took a few pictures of Lava Cliffs and then tried to get back into my truck. I almost couldn’t open the door but finally managed and then got in being careful not to lose my grip on the door and have it slam shut on my leg. I considered going to the other side and getting in and climbing across but managed to get in the drivers side.

I continued up the road and found a very scenic turnout where I rested my camera on the hood of my truck and took some pictures of myself with the mountains in the background. It was a bit brisk and windy.

After taking some pictures I continued on up the road and stopped briefly at another turnout to check out the view. I should have used the pit toilets that were there as the restrooms at the Alpine Visitor Center were closed account the pipes were frozen and everyone was having to use the pit toilets there and there was a line to use them.

In any case I continued on up the Trail Ridge Road till I got to the Alpine Visitors Center. It was nice but having been there before I knew that the best view was blocked by about a 15 foot high pile of snow. I briefly checked out the visitors center and then went to the gift shop by the restaurant to get a gift for my mother and one of nieces girls.

I looked at the line for the pit toilets because the restrooms were closed and figured correctly that the next turnout going down the other side would have some pit toilets which turned out to be correct. I don’t like waiting in lines.

In any case I continued down the west side and came to the turnout for the Continental Divide. No big deal to me because in the past few weeks I have been back and forth over it probably 20 times or more. I just stopped to use the pit toilet that was there and continued on.

I then continued down the West side of the park and then out of the entrance station at the Southwestern edge of the park. The western side of the park was a great disappointment to me as the sides of the mountains were covered with millions (maybe 10’s of millions) of dead trees killed by the bark beetle, which gave them a black unattractive look.

NOTE: If visiting Rocky Mountain Park I would suggest passing on the west side of it. I would just take the Trail Ridge Road up to the Alpine Visitor Center and then back down the East side again. All the good views are on the East side unless someone is really into looking at lakes.

It’s a shame about the bark beetle killed trees. I know the park service tried to get rid of them in Yellowstone a while back with a “controlled burn”. It got out of control and just about burned the whole park down. I know because I was there in the middle of it. They let me drive through the park giving me explicit instruction to just drive through and not walk off into the forest…….like I would walk off into a forest fire !?

There was a forest fire while I was in Rocky Mountain National Park this time on the west side of the park and it fed off of all the dead trees killed by the bark beetle. It was still burning while I was on the west side of the park but I never saw it. I guess it must have been off in the back country. I didn’t feel any need to wander off into it either : )

In any case I continued on Hwy 34 past Grand Lake and Lake Granby until I got to Granby. Then I went south on Hwy 40 and through Winter Park and then over Berthoud Pass and then on to Hwy 70 which I took east towards Idaho Springs and Denver. Once I got on I-70 I headed East towards Idaho Springs.

I continued East and when I came to Idaho Springs I went into the town and stopped at a nice picnic area by the river that I knew of to eat my lunch. It is a bit East and across the street from the visitors center. It was a very nice place to stop with a river right next to it that had rafts coming down now every now and then. I guess they have some kind of rafting school there as the rafts were full of kids with an instructor.

In any case after enjoying a nice picnic lunch and using the public restrooms across the street from the visitors center. I eased back to Denver. The visitor center has restrooms as well but it always seems to be closed every time I get there.

After leaving Idaho Springs I got back on I-70 and I hit a detour going around the Twin Tunnels. They were doing some work on the tunnels and thank God I was going Eastward. The tunnel was closed for “no more than 20 minutes at a time” and Westbound traffic was backed up for miles and miles and miles and miles…..and miles. Thank God I was going Eastbound. Those poor people going west would have done better to go on 285 southwest out of Denver to Fairplay and then back north on Hwy 9 to Frisco. I have actually done this myself on a Sunday in order to avoid sitting at the Eisenhower when they do their “20 minute” stoppages that I was told about. This route is quite a nice little scenic side trip in itself. In Frisco there is a nice little barbeque place called Q4U which I like as well.

After getting around the tunnel work I continued on into Denver.

Another good day : )

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Line for pit toiletsLine for pit toilets
Line for pit toilets

The water lines for the restrooms were frozen so everyone had to line up for the pit toilets.

21st June 2013

Colorado Rocky Mountain High
I lived in Denver centuries ago. I'd forgotten about Idaho Springs. It was a village. I'll bet it is bigger now. Glad you continue to have a good time.
22nd June 2013

Idaho Springs
I believe Idaho Springs is hemmed in too much by the mountains to grow. It is a great place to take a break on a trip if using I-70. They have a nice park by a rushing river across the street from the visitors center : )
22nd June 2013
William on Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road
Great photo
22nd June 2013
William on Trail Ridge Road


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