Of course, being close to the Rocky Mountains and stunning views are perks of this private cabin. However, what seals the deal for many is its proximity to Zone 62, which attracts visitors from around the country for hunting, mountain biking trails and much more. Be sure to visit Ouray during your stay for hot springs and hiking trails in what’s known as the “Switzerland of Colorado.”
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.
Estes Park has long billed itself as "The Gateway to the Rockies." This little town has a lot of charm of its own. For the many people who feel that the best part of the Rockies is the view, Estes Park is the best of both worlds. It is the perfect romantic getaway for those who would rather avoid the mountain roads and bone-chilling temperatures of Vail and Aspen during the winter.
Features: Take a quick hike around Lake Irene. Lake Irene is one of the highest lakes in the park; it’s just below the continental divide. This secluded little lake is surrounded by pine trees, and the trail is fairly flat along its entire length. However, once again, since this lake is at elevation, it can be a bit winding—you’ll notice that the trees don’t grow quite so high around the lake since you’ll be near tree line. Take note, the parking lot is the highest point on this hike, so be prepared for the uphill jaunt back to your car! Halfway through the trail, you can also visit an overlook on the trail that displays a vista of Lake Irene and a nearby meadow (this portion of the trail is not part of the length calculation above). It’s about an hour drive from the resort to the Lake Irene Picnic Area.
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Many visitors end up shopping or going to restaurants in Estes Park. Dickey said his sales are higher this week compared to a year ago. On Christmas Eve, he did twice as much business as he did on Christmas Eve 2017. Dickey, president of the Estes Valley Partners for Commerce board, said other store owners told him they had not noticed any downturns.
We saw the park on a tour that traveled the totality of the park along Trail Ridge Road from Grand Lake entrance at the west to Estes Park at the east. It was 40 miles of nature at its best. We entered and exited in the Montane zone where ponderosa pine dominate below 9,000 feet. We reached the alpine zone above 11,400 where it is too extreme for trees to grow. Here are my favorite first-hand experiences:
Horace Albright, director of the National Park Service between 1929 and 1933, once said about Trail Ridge Road, "It's hard to describe what a sensation this new road is going to make. You will have the whole sweep of the Rockies before you in all directions." Trail Ridge Road was a sensation when it debuted back in 1932 and it remains so today for the travelers that make the 48-mile drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake, rising above the tree line for 11 miles at an elevation of nearly 11,500 feet. Visitors should keep that in mind when they're stopping at the lookout points that the road experiences temperatures that are 20 and even 30 degrees lower than both Estes Park and Grand Park.
Aspen draws pro skiers, celebs and snow buffs of all kinds to its top-notch terrain, world-class resorts, and unparalleled Apres ski scene. Although everyone knows Aspen as a winter resort town, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy it in the summer, when the mountains become a perfect setting for hiking, biking and horseback tours. It’s a top vacation rental destination, too. After all the outdoor activities, who wouldn’t want to retire to a luxurious apartment or a cozy, firelit home?
Chapin Pass trail traverses a dense forest to beautiful views of the Chapin Creek valley, proceeding onward above timberline to the western flank of Mount Chapin. Tundra Communities Trail, accessible from Trail Ridge Road, is a hike offering tundra views and alpine wildflowers. Other trails are Tombstone Ridge and Ute Trail, which starts at the tundra and is mostly downhill from Ute Crossing to Upper Beaver Meadows, with one backcountry camping site. Cache La Poudre River trail begins north of Poudre Lake on the west side of the valley near Milner Pass and heads downward toward the Mummy Pass trail junction. Lake Irene is a recreation and picnic area.
From this page you can access the main photos on this website. These are the ones I've selected as making great prints. If you want to see additional photos visit the search page or visit my Facebook artist page where I post new images nearly every day. I also have a large collection of images from other locations such as the Desert Southwest, Pacific Northwest, United Kingdom, Iceland, etc. These others can all be found at my Morning Light website.
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.
Hypothermia, or loss of body heat through exposure, is a danger that can be encountered any time of the year. If anyone exhibits shivering, slurred speech, incoherence, stumbling, or drowsiness, get the person out of the wet, cold. and wind, and into shelter and dry, woolen clothing. The quickest way to warm the victim is to place the person in a dry sleeping bag with another person.