August 1st

For day 2, we planned on spending the morning driving up Trail Ridge Road and then heading back into town in the late afternoon to spend the evening in downtown Estes Park. We had one more night at the KOA so we had to head back into town at some point.

A short ways up the road, we found a really nice pull off that had a view of Long’s Peak. The girls jumped out of the van and before Julie could get her bearings, the girls were climbing up and over a rock pile.

Once we caught up, we got this snapshot thanks to the self-timer and mini-tripod (JOBY). Places like RMNP are made for kids to get out and run around. It’s true freedom and with so much space and not too much fear of them getting hurt, it’s great to let them do some exploring on their own and find cool things.

Starting up the drive on TRR, there were two things that became clear very quickly.

  1. This is BIG COUNTRY. The air is clean and the mountains are big.
  2. There are some frickin’ insane people that bike this road and want to share it with cars. Does it look like there is room on this road for you??? This just makes for a dangerous situation for not just the bikers but drivers too. There were LOTS of bikes on the road.

View of Trail Ridge Road as Julie and Maddie climbed up the back way to this hiking path. It was very cold and windy. Above the tree line was very exciting for everyone and with the weather you can easily see why little grows up here. There were piles of snow, even in late July, right off the road.

You can see where this USGS survey marker is in the map below:


We stopped at the visitor’s center/gift shop that they had at the top for a few minutes. This was a cool place and it’s only open for a few months out of the year. They have some pictures inside of what the road looks like during winter and needless to say, the entire building we were standing in and what you see in this picture is not visible during winter months. Another fun activity while at the visitor’s center was to watch the people driving up the old Trial Ridge Road, what is now called Old Fall River Road. People who chose to head up this way did NOT seem happy at the top. It looks very stressful and the men driving looked like they had taken a physical beating on the way up… still, I enjoyed watching.

We drove down the backside of TRR to have lunch and go on a short hike to…. wait for it… the Colorado River. That’s right, up here the river is just a shallow stream and you can walk in it. Julie took this opportunity to look for a few choice rocks, of course, and loaded up her pockets to the point where her pants couldn’t stay up.

On our way back we stopped at the main Visitor’s Center for the park near the entrance and got a call from Julie’s uncle who rode up to see us for the afternoon so we bailed on any afternoon plans and went fishing on Lake Estes. There is a place on the north side of the lake, near our campground, where you can rent boats of all types. This was a real highlight for the kids as they got to drive the boat around while the adults just relaxed. Now that I think about this, we were probably violating a few rules about the age of boat drivers, but who cares… it was fun.

That night, while shopping in downtown Estes Park, Julie got a cowgirl hat. She said she didn’t want one, but hey… we are in Colorado… you need to get a hat. So we made our way to Craftsmen In Leather and picked out a very cool hat that you will see in upcoming pictures.