Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Last Day in Colorado...WOW!

We checked out of our condo in mid morning, and decided to hit the Rocky Mountain National Park at the Estes Park entrance and spend the rest of the day there while we waited for our late night flight back home to Bradenton. We hadn't seen elk on our first visit there, so we thought we'd check out trails along Trail Ridge parkway, go back to the Alpine Visitor's Center so Sparky could hike "Huffer's Hill" again, and hang around till dusk to look for elk.....

At the visitor's center, we heard it had snowed at the Alpine Visitor's Center. Hot diggity dog! Sparky was rarin' to get up there. She had her ski headband and lightweight parka ready in the car. But first, check out some trail heads and the Continental Divide trail marker....No snow here....

The trails looked beautiful....We didn't have our poles and hiking shoes on so we just took notes for next summer in August when we plan on returning....
Sparky loves the wood carved signs....
We saw mule deer cross the road....

As we climbed higher, Sparky saw snow on the sides of the road. We were almost to the top of the park, Alpine Valley. STOP THE CAR, Eldy! SNOW! Quite a bit of it. Well, compared to what we see in Florida anyway, haha. Oh, boy!

Sparky just HAD to make a snowball and throw it!
It was in the thirties at the top of Alpine Valley.....Many people chose to stay inside and look at the beautiful view from within....
Bet the staff made this snowman....Sparky wanted to add a sign, "Florida or melt!" But the chances of this snowman melting any time soon were probably nada, as cold as it was up at the top and the winter weather coming. The park was getting ready to close down the visitor's center within a week or two, we could tell. They were shutting down some of the services inside.

Sparky wanted to climb "Huffer's Hill" again....just to get the exercise and to help her sugar levels plummet, which they did the last time she hiked it. Just goes to show, you really need to get aerobic exercise to help get those sugar levels down. Lately, the only time she has levels in the 90's (high average end) is when she really gets her heart pumping. So off she went again....And here's a repeat of that heart stopping, (just about), awesome WOW view at the top looking down at the visitor's center, just because it's so cool--taken with the iPhone 6S.

Sparky did it! Twelve thousand feet up! Eldy would have done it too, but he was having more trouble with the altitude and Sparky wouldn't let him try it.

After hiking and getting a bite to eat, we headed down the other side towards the meadows where the elk congregate every night. Eldy had to stop the car again so Sparky could make another snowball. Hey, it's the closest she has been to snow in four years! Gotta enjoy what little there is of it!

bull elk on the hillside
By this time, it was getting to be late afternoon....We drove around the park visiting several meadows, no signs of elk yet. They were still in the woods up on the ridges next to the road....Eldy spotted a bull and his harem of three females up above the road side. We decided to sit and wait.....and wait......and wait.....Cars came and went. We stayed parked on the side of the road right next to the meadow. The bull and harem waited patiently on the hillside, munching away on grass shoots. We waited some more. Sparky was getting impatient. (She's not very good at just sitting in the car, explains E.)

Finally, she couldn't stand it any longer. She was going to get out her knitting and pass the time that way. Just as she started to knit, Eldy shouted, "HERE HE COMES! HERE HE COMES! THERE HE GOES!" And the bull passed right in front of the car ahead of us. He just bounded out of the woods from up above, and two females bounded down the hillside right behind him, dodging cars that were still moving in the roadway! Sparky missed the shot because she was looking down and couldn't get the camera out and going fast enough. :-(   Boy, when they decide to move, they GO! That bull had had enough of the passersby, and decided to make his move. It was thrilling to see them come by us so close and so fast!

After watching them head into the marsh waters, we headed out of the park. Just as we got to the Estes Park ranger station/entrance, we saw more bulls....Sparky wasn't going to miss any more chances to get some wildlife photos! This bull elk passed nonchalantly by a small group of people who had stopped, thus starting an "elk jam" right along the roadside. Nobody was coming or going on either side of the roadway. He had definitely "tangled" with some brush and was wearing a crown of grass shoots on his head. Didn't seem to bother him a bit. He regally paraded right by us, not giving anybody the time of day. He was just a few yards away from us!

And off he went, on his way to who knows what?

We hated to leave....We saw another bull with his harem hanging around some park buildings near the exit. He was definitely interested in a female and was following her around. But she wasn't interested at all. We heard some bugling from a male while we were there. Rut season was just starting to get under way, the rangers said. But it was time to head out of the park. Regretfully, we left the park and immediately, we saw ANOTHER bull elk in the front yard of a resident's house, just sitting and enjoying the late afternoon light.

Went a few miles down the road and TWO more BULL elk were nibbling and antler tussling with low tree branches. WOW! What a day of wildlife!

It was a terrific trip! We loved our stay in Breckenridge, Colorado, and we hope to come back for the whole month of August next year to hike and bike and explore even more. We sure packed a lot in in four days and it was a great way to explore the area, and to find accommodations that we knew we'd be happy with. So, until next time......Happy Trails and safe travels to you!


  1. Sure looks like you had a great time there.

  2. Your excitement in this post just makes me smile from ear to ear. We were in Rocky Mountain NP last summer. 2 weeks in each of two campgrounds and we still didn't see it all. Or hike it all. But lots of blog posts and boy was it fun. What a great idea to just go for a short stay if you can get good rates and make a plan to come back in the summer.

  3. Incredible! Try as we may, we never did see elk in Montana. They are cool creatures.