Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado | Day One

Rocky Mountain National Park was our first stop on our spring break trip to Colorado! We stayed in Estes Park, which is a cute little town about fifteen minutes from the national park. As we were driving in, I couldn’t believe the mountains in the background and the mountains that we were driving through. Estes boasted its own amazing views too, and the first night after driving in we walked around Estes Lake.

Lake Estes
Lake Estes
The next morning we awoke bright and early and drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park. Even as you drove up, the views were incredible. The road into the park, called Trail Ridge Road, wound all the way up into the mountains. Every turn gave a different view of the rockies and there were turns I couldn’t help but just gasp because it was unlike anything I had ever seen! There were plenty of places to pull off the road to take pictures or to hike, so I took advantage of those! I felt like every turn I was telling Andrew to pull over so I could get out of the car!

Trail Ridge Road and the mountains.
Trail Ridge Road and the mountains.
My favorite view of the park was right near the beginning. The road took almost a u-turn so in almost every direction, all you could see were mountains. We would just stand there in silence, taking it all in. Words were useless.

Rocky Mountains

Near the beginning, there were only patches of snow and I probably would have been okay with just a jacket. But as the road took us higher and higher up, the temperatures dropped and everything was covered in at least a foot of snow! The roads were clear for the most part except for the last little stretch. It looked like we were driving at a 45 degree angle and the road was pretty icy. My little car handles snow okay on flat roads in Missouri, but I definitely thought we were going to fly straight off the mountain! I commend Andrew on his excellent driving. :P

Near Sprague Lake

Trail Ridge Road was close about eight miles in since this is still their winter and the roads weren’t safe, so we found a hiking trail that led to Sprague Lake. It was about a three mile loop, so we thought that would be easy enough to manage. However the trail was completely covered in snow and we were both only wearing sneakers. The snow was pretty packed down by other hikers, but there were some slippery spots and spots that led off the trail where we stepped knee-deep into snow. XD The lake was a bit disappointing when we arrived because it was completely covered in snow, so there really wasn’t much to see. But we got some good exercise and were beat once we got back to our car. Hiking three miles is way more exhausting than just walking it!

Andrew wondering why I'm so far behind.
Andrew wondering why I’m so far behind.
After hiking, we drove down some different roads we hadn’t seen before. It ended up being an absolutely perfect day! It was very cold, but we were bundled up and the sky’s were pretty clear.

Storm Pass
Storm Pass
We didn’t stay too much longer on our first day because we were pretty tired. As we were driving back, we stopped in the downtown Estes Park, which was just a collection of cute little shops and eateries. We couldn’t help but stop into one of the candy stores either. :P They had quite a variety of different ice cream flavors, but one in particular caught my eye: Chip Killa Dough Nilla. You just can’t pass homemade ice cream with a name like that up. So I got two scoops and Andrew picked out some black raspberry. So good.

Chip Killa Dough Nilla: chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with caramel swirls. Absolutely delicious.
Chip Killa Dough Nilla: chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with caramel swirls. Absolutely delicious.
On our way back to the hotel from ice cream, my car gave a shuddering and my check engine light dinged on. We were both silent for a moment before Andrew said something along the lines of, “Well, that’s not good.” We managed to get it back to the hotel and Andrew checked the fluids. My oil was low, so we walked to the nearest gas station a mile and a half away. After a long day of trekking through the park, it was a long walk! We topped off the oil, but couldn’t do anything else for the night so we figured we would deal with it in the morning.

I was a bit bummed about my car. I was nervous that it would take a long time to fix or that we might lose time doing all of the other things that we had planned. I was also really nervous that it would be expensive – and an engine problem sounded expensive. However, I couldn’t do anything about it until tomorrow. So walking back into our room and seeing this view out the window made me feel a bit better. :)

A herd of elk outside of our window!
A herd of elk outside of our window!

11 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado | Day One”

  1. All those photos are beautiful! Snow really can be beautiful at times…but cold. XD Sounds like a lot of fun though!

  2. Oh, my goodness. Your photos of the Rocky Mountains? BEAUTIFUL. I almost feel like I was there with you! Mountains are nothing new to me since Korea has 23820319030 mountains, but none of them look and feel like the Rockies. Oh, man, they look so majestic.

    Sucks about the car issue, but I’m glad it didn’t die in the middle of the highway or anything! And woto for Andrew and his awesome driving skills! I would not want to be the one driving on a snowy road. No thanks!

    That ice cream looks so good, btw. I wouldn’t mind trying a scoop :D Yum!

  3. Wow, all of those views of the mountains are gorgeous! Such clear blue skies too :D That’s too bad there wasn’t much to see at the lake, but that looks nice to hike through the trees.

    Oohh, that ice cream looks amazing. I want some now! That totally sucks about the check engine light coming on during your trip though :( Before a car trip, I normally bring it into a car shop for a check-up because I’m paranoid about it breaking down while I’m driving out of town.

    Love the view out your window! Look at all those animals!

  4. That ice cream name made me chuckle. Sounds and looks awesome, must have tasted great as well!

    I’ve never seen mountains before. I live in the middle of the prairies so everything around me is flat. I would love to see the Rocky Mountains someday and your pictures reminded me that I don’t have to go too far to see some natural wonders. I’m taking a week off at the end of the month and I want to get away and go somewhere. I kept thinking of somewhere tropical and hot, but you’ve just reminded me that I could stay within the country and visit the mountains. =)

    Hope the two of you continue to have a great time! And I sure hope your car will make it through the rest of the trip.

  5. Your pictures are so beautiful!!! I have yet to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park, but it’s definitely on my list. And all the elks! How cool!

    Eeek! 45 degree slope in San Francisco is already a pain, but to have it on an icy/snowy road condition, that’s so scary! Hats off to you guys for braving it.

  6. I really like the name of that ice cream!

    Gorgeous pictures, Becca! I have yet to go to Colorado or anywhere else in the world yet. I know, I’m lame. I’m also a poor starving college student, which will pay off later on. Ya know? Especially, when I pass that certification exam through Microsoft.

    I would love to go to Colorado at least once in my life. I honestly hope your car is okay! Though, if your oil is low, I don’t think it will be that big of deal.Right?

  7. Your vacation looks breathtaking. Seriously! Your photos are gorgeous, I can only imagine what it was like to be there and it sounds like you two enjoyed it too.

  8. What unreal views – I’m so glad you had fun, I’d be taking so many pictures and selfies and loving my life if I got to see those views. At my home town we have a similar place called the Peaks, it’s just beautiful mountains but I’m actually really clumsy and tend to avoid outdoor sort of activities like that but those views are totally worth it.

    That ice-cream looks huge! haha!

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