I actually planned on hiking to Mills lake but went straight on the snow packed trail rather than turning left at the snow covered bridge:). What a happy surprise! I'm guessing the route I was following is the river in the summer. Such a beautiful day and hike! It started out really windy but it died down until I got to the lake. I hiked most of the way in just my hiking boots before I needed to put on my crampons. I did not need snowshoes though, as the trail was pretty packed down. Recommend this one!
A geographical anomaly is found along the slopes of the Never Summer Mountains where the Continental Divide forms a horseshoe–shaped bend for about 6 miles (9.7 km), heading from south–to–north but then curving sharply southward and westward out of the park.[5][27] The sharp bend results in streams on the eastern slopes of the range joining the headwaters of the Colorado River that flow south and west, eventually reaching the Pacific.[5][28] Meanwhile, streams on the western slopes join rivers that flow north and then east and south, eventually reaching the Atlantic.[5][28]
First – Rocky Mountain National Park is open year round, 24 hours a day. So no worries there. However, if you want to drive Trail Ridge Road, you need to visit from around the end of May to early October. July through September are the busiest time of year, so my recommendation to avoid the crowds and still get good weather, plus plenty of light for activities, would be June.
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Slightly strenuous hike. The first portion (after the trail splits from Bear Lake) is primarily uphill. Snowshoes are a great asset to have here. After some breaks to catch our breath, we made it to Nymph Lake, which offered a gorgeous view and prime photo opportunity. Then, across the lake continued the trail. More uphill climbing, followed by a beautiful vista and Dream Lake, which was very windy but gorgeous. Then came a 20-25 minute steep hike up to Emerald Lake, snowshoes REQUIRED for this portion. The steep hike is worth it as you emerge from forest to a view unlike any other. There are plenty of spots to enjoy lunch with an incredible view of tall peaks and the frozen lake.
Unique for its extravagant luxury, Della Terra Mountain Chateau is located right at the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Perched atop fourteen secluded acres and nestled in untouched nature, the hotel’s fourteen, adult-only luxury suites feature walk-thru jetted showers, private balconies and hot tubs, sitting nooks with arched windows, see-thru fireplaces, and soaking tubs. The family-owned property also offers private amenities like chef-catered breakfasts, a private movie theater, the Essence spa treatment room and more.
The Wildwood Inn is 4 miles west of Estes Park, for those lovers who want to get a little further away from it all. Situated on seven acres right on Fall River and adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, the inn is surrounded with majestic mountain views, river views and abundant wildlife. All the cabins, suites and vacation homes feature fireplaces, fabulous views, luxurious down bedding and high-thread-count linens. This is a great place to get away with that special someone in luxury, surrounded by natural beauty.
If driving Trail Ridge Road or Old Fall River Road is on the top of your list and you have limited time, you may want to enter the park via the Fall River Entrance on the park’s east side. It also is just a few minutes from Estes Park’s downtown. You’ll reach Trail Ridge Road a lot faster than those waiting in line at the Beaver Meadows Entrance during the summer and fall seasons.
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