Marissa is a writer for 303 Magazine’s Travel, Lifestyle + Culture Desk. She grew up in Canada, but spent her adult life navigating South Carolina as a Canadian transplant. She secretly enjoys the cold weather in Colorado, but complains about it anyway. In her free time, you can find her bothering her friends to go out, watching comedy shows or driving long distances to see something cool she read about online. All wit and charm is 85% her parents and 15% something she learned in middle school from the 8th graders on her bus. Follow her on Twitter @marissajkozma
The rain started to head in, but we shifted plans a bit (the park is huge - one side can have rain while the other is sunny) and got to Alluvial Fan, Bear Lake, Nymph Lake and Dream Lake among some other spots. We also drove through most of the park and went to the Alpine Visitor Center - 11,796 feet up! It's the highest elevation Visitor Center in the park. Great views. Such a different feel - it was cold and there was snow on the ground. In July!
The montane ecosystem is at the lowest elevations in the park, between 5,600 to 9,500 feet (1,700 to 2,900 m), where the slopes and large meadow valleys support the widest range of plant and animal life, including montane forests, grasslands, and shrublands. The area has meandering rivers and during the summer, wildflowers grow in the open meadows. Ponderosa pine trees, grass, shrubs and herbs live on dry, south-facing slopes. North-facing slopes retain moisture better than those that face south. The soil better supports dense populations of trees, like Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and ponderosa pine. There are also occasional Engelmann spruce and blue spruce trees. Quaking aspens thrive in high-moisture montane soils. Other water-loving small trees like willows, grey alder, and water birch may be found along streams or lakeshores. Water-logged soil in flat montane valleys may be unable to support growth of evergreen forests. The following areas are part of the montane ecosystem: Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park, Kawuneeche Valley, and Upper Beaver Meadows.
However the split for the trail for Andrew's Glacier was non-existent.... there was no trail. I broke trail through the snow headed to the glacier... very slow going, often sinking up to thighs with my snow shoes on. Due to the wind pattern east sides of the hills and knolls are very powdery and you sink. Stopped about .75 miles from the base of the glacier. Would have taken at least an hour to go that far. Lots of snow.
Non-flowering lichens cling to rocks and soil. Their enclosed algal cells can photosynthesize at any temperature above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 °C), and the outer fungal layers can absorb more than their own weight in water. Adaptations for survival amidst drying winds and cold temperatures may make tundra vegetation seem very hardy, but in some respects it remains very fragile. Footsteps can destroy tundra plants and it may take hundreds of years to recover. Mammals that live on the alpine tundra, or visit during the summer season, include bighorn sheep, elk, badgers, pikas, yellow-bellied marmots, and snowshoe hares. Birds include prairie falcons, white-tailed ptarmigans, and common ravens. Flowering plants include mertensia, sky pilot, alpine sunflowers, alpine dwarf columbine, and alpine forget-me-not. Grasses include kobresia, spike trisetum, spreading wheatgrass, and tufted hairgrass.
Trail Ridge Road is 48 miles (77 km) long and connects the entrances in Grand Lake and Estes Park. Running generally east–west through many hairpin turns, the road crosses Milner Pass through the Continental Divide at an elevation of 10,758 ft (3,279 m). The highest point of the road is 12,183 feet (3,713 m), with eleven miles of the road being above tree line which is approximately 11,500 feet (3,505 m). The road is the highest continuously paved highway in the country, and includes many large turnouts at key points to stop and observe the scenery.
A number of Wedding Packages are available, which include table and chair setup, bartender, cake cutting, dance floor, ivory or black linens, champagne/cider toast, complimentary use of centerpieces, and a pre-wedding tasting for two. Additional accessories are also available. Other wedding services like florists, musicians, DJs, photographers and more can be found locally right here in Estes Park, making coordination and set-up a breeze. If you need assistance finding a florist, baker, photographer, etc, we would be more than happy to introduce you to some of the excellent wedding vendors here in town.
Highlights of our trip were stopping and eating lunch at Hidden Valley, where we saw a bull Elk up close grazing. Hiking the beautiful Bear Lake, Nymph Lake and then on to the breathtaking Dream Lake. Fly fishing in Moraine Park on the Big Thompson River, with Elk surrounding us. Seeing a Moose for the first time at Forest Canyon. Seeing two Big Horn sheep at Sheeps Lake.
The park was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in 1976 to protect its natural resources. The park's biodiversity includes afforestation and reforestation, ecology, inland bodies of water, and mammals, while its ecosystems are managed for nature conservation, environmental education and public recreation purposes. The areas of research and monitoring include ungulate ecology and management, high-altitude revegetation, global change, acid precipitation effects, and aquatic ecology and management.
Brynwood on the River is your best choice when choosing your Estes Park rental. We offer a variety of accommodations, from cozy one-bedroom cabins to large vacation homes. Take advantage of our Stay “N” Play special and enjoy a cozy stay at Brynwood on the River. Book two nights and we’ll give you the third night FREE! So, book your stay with us and enjoy a romantic weekend in Estes Park.
The park is home to many predatory animals, including Canadian lynx, foxes, bobcat, cougar, black bear, and coyotes. Wolves and grizzly bears were extirpated in the early 1900s. Most of these predators kill smaller animals, but mountain lions and coyotes kill deer and occasionally elk. Bears also eat larger prey. Moose have no predators in the park. Black bears are relatively uncommon in the park, numbering only 24-35 animals. They also have fewer cubs and the bears seem skinnier than they do in most areas. Canadian lynx are quite rare within the park, and they have probably spread north from the San Juan Mountains, where they were reintroduced in 1999. Cougars feed mainly on mule deer in the park, and live 10–13 years. Cougar territories can be as large as 500 square miles. Coyotes hunt both alone and in pairs, but occasionally hunt in packs. They mainly feed on rodents but occasionally bring down larger animals, including deer, and especially fawns and elk calves. Scat studies in Moraine Park showed that their primary foods were deer and rodents. They form strong family bonds and are very vocal.
Features: This hike is a good drive away from the resort. You’ll spend about an hour and a half on highway 34 heading towards Grand Lake before you reenter the Park to check out Adams Falls. That said, the drive is gorgeous, and you’ll sweep over the Continental Divide. Once you’re at Adams Falls, you’ll have a short hike to view falls along the East Inlet of Grand Lake. The aptly named Adams Falls Trail features a 55-foot waterfall. You can continue along the East Inlet Trail to view more of the river, as well as Lone Pine Lake, Lake Verna, Spirit Lake, and other gorgeous sites.