Guys, can we just state the obvious? Colorado is the most magical place on Earth. Not Disney, not the Hearth and Hand section at Target (although Joanna Gaines is in fact a magical being)…it’s Colorado. There are a lot of awesome places in our beautiful world but Colorado is majestic. It’s breathtaking. It is EVERYTHING. Writing this post is hard simply because every time Colorado enters my thoughts I scheme of leaving it all behind and moving back and when you have a house on wheels and you are crazy these are dangerous thoughts. Dammit…now I’m distracted. Focus…Christine.
So, our dear friends got married in Rocky Mountain National Park (freaking #goals, right?) and it was amazing. We stayed in the super cute and quiet Manor RV Park in Estes Park where elk came to visit and we had gorgeous views of the mountains all while being really close to town and the park. It was a fun few days. Even though it was early May it was still technically the off-season and it was pretty cold, getting down into the low 20’s at night. Colorado is a place where you always need to be prepared for anything and we battled quite the snow storm coming in through the mountain passes. It’s important to stock up with supplies (top your propane tanks off, people) and the right gear before approaching the Rockies, especially during this time of year as Colorado often sees serious snow well into June.
Since we had a few days booked in Estes Park for the wedding festivities we were able to secure one full day for Rocky Mountain National Park. I could spend days in this park. Any words I write about it cannot do its beauty justice. I’m fortunate enough to have seen a handful of areas in the Alps which is the only place that comes to mind as comparable but there is something more rugged and primitive about the Rockies. There’s a different type of spirit out west and I can’t get enough of it. It reminds you of how powerful the universe really is.
Rocky Mountain National Park has the highest paved roads in the US and the drive alone is worth the visit. The pristine and expansive views of forested valleys and snow capped mountains make you feel like you are driving through a movie and there is always wildlife to be seen. We saw a ton of elk and deer. You’ll always know wildlife are up ahead because cars will be pulled over and parked with people approaching them and taking pictures. I always thought that was kind of weird. Like, does it bother them? It is annoying? Just out for your evening graze and these peeps be all up in your business but on a serious note, don’t do this. Don’t approach them. You might be in a park but these are still wild animals and well wildlife is unpredictable. It’s called zoom and crop. Don’t get eaten by a bear, ok?
In typical Hank fashion, he fell asleep in his car seat right when we entered the park so we took advantage of the quiet to drive the roads and take in the stunning views. Trail Ridge Road crests at 12,183 feet but due to snow, it wasn’t open. We were able to make it to around 10,000 feet before having to turn and head back down and while you wouldn’t think spending time in a car in a national park is fun it’s actually not that bad. I wanted Hank to get some sleep in after a pretty wild weekend and the roads are designed with multiple places to pull over and stop to enjoy views, sights, and landmarks and take pictures. It’s an ideal way to take in a lot if you are limited on time or impacted by issues that may make hiking or going on foot difficult, challenging or impossible. I’m not one to take in nature through driving but the road systems through our national parks make nature accessible to others who otherwise may be excluded and I thought that was a beautiful thing.
There are a ton of trails and while Sprague Lake is a really popular one, our friends were married on that trail (seriously, lakeside, snow capped mountains in the background, 100% drool-worthy) so we opted for ones at a higher elevation. We tried but had to turn back on the first two we attempted due to snow. It was that deep. The trails would have been fine with the right gear but Ryan was hiking with Hank on his back making him heavy enough to actually sink into a lot of the packed snow. It was comical to me and Hank but no way to make your way up the trail.
We ended up taking an easy hike around Bear Lake which was frozen but the snow was either packed in so much or had melted from the afternoon sun enough that we could make our way around the entire lake. It was Mother’s Day and honestly, I don’t think I could have asked for a better day. The late afternoon sun made way for shadows in the forest and that was our cue to head home.
It was our last day in town before we’d hit the road for Pagosa Springs so we snuggled up back in the Airstream. Hank with some cartoons and milk in his bunk. Ryan and I went with a movie and some Elkins apple spiced whiskey we picked up in town. I can’t say no to small town treats and trying the local distilleries, wineries, bakeries, you name it are a big part of the experience for me. I love when people put their passion into something they can share with others.
We would leave Estes Park in the morning and head back out to I-70 making our way through all the ski resort towns stopping in Frisco at Outer Range Brewing Company. We wouldn’t have normally taken this route but it didn’t add on much time and we got to see our old friends who own the brewery and share their passion for craft beer with the best IPA’s you have ever tasted. Seriously, living the dream…
Ok. Let’s close this out before y’all read we are moving again. We can’t give Ryan any ideas…