Scenic road on the way to Rocky Mountain
We had barely gotten up and moving around when the Ranger came over and asked us almost accusingly if we had paid last night. We told him no, there was no one there to break a twenty at 1:00 am, but if he could do so we would appreciate it. He said he thought he could, and wandered back to his trailer. We were in the tent rolling up our sleeping bags, when we heard "ahem" "ahem" ...and looked out to see him sitting, waiting at our picnic table for the money. It was barely 8 o'clock in the morning! I got the distinct feeling that he may have thought we planned to skip out on him without paying. Don't worry, dude, it's only eight dollars! The cheapest camp we've been to so far! We gave him the cash and he sulked away, taking his job maybe just a little too seriously.
Park entrance sign
We didn't have much to pack up, since we never really unpacked, so once we rolled up the tent and sleeping bags, we were on the road again.
We headed on down the road, enjoying the mountain scenery, as well as several lakes, and eventually made it to the Park entrance. After a few photos at the sign, we made our way to the first visitor center. We got our passport stamps and looked at the exhibets while a storm kicked up outside. It was just a sudden summer squall, we got about 5 minutes of rain and some thunder and lightning. It had stopped completely by the time we went back to the truck to continue on our way.
We stopped at the various overlooks and viewpoints, looking at the mountains.
great scenery at the overlooks!
At one stop, a large, loud blue bird was singing in a tree right in front of us. As we traveled higher into the park, we eventually got above the treeline and started to see more snow. We walked along some trails for awhile, but didn't do any serious hikes. Towards the middle of the park, we came to another, larger visitor center and gift shop. Inside, they had pictures of the building completely covered with snow...I bet it gets really crazy here in wintertime! There was a large bowl shaped valley behind this upper visitor center, and Tyler spotted a herd of deer or elk at the bottom. A lot more cars were showing up by that point, and we actually ran into a long line of traffic as we worked our way across the park.
walking a trail above the treeline
The cars ahead were slowed up by roadwork that was going on, they were doing some asphalt work to the highway.. I imagine the extremes of weather here really do a number on the roads! They have a limited amount of time in the summer they can actually work on them. We followed the long winding road to the bottom, where we came across a THIRD visitor center, and we stopped at that one too! (by now, it was mainly for a restroom break!) We got a lot of photos, and did some walking around, but this was mostly a drive through park for us. This would be a great place to spend a week hiking and exploring, but we just didn't have that kind of time! We headed down the mountain into the town just outside of it, Estes Park.