This was the most difficult drive of the trip. Driving from Moab Utah to Rocky Mountain NP. The first section was not that bad and to break up the drive we spent a night in Gypsum at River Dance RV Resort. The next morning drive out to our campsite was the difficult part. Driving up and down the mountain roads with a trailer was a lot harder than I anticipated.
This was going to be my second time at Rocky Mountain National Park. My first time was in 2015 when we went camping. We didn’t do too much exploring of the park so it only made sense to come back and check it out again. A few notes about Rocky Mountain NP:
- Entrance fee $25
- Established in 1915
- 265,641 acres in size
- Eastern & Western slopes of the Continental Divide run directly thru the center of the park
- Best known for the 2,000+ natural sandstone arches
Day 1 – Arrive & Dinner 06.19.2020
We arrived just shortly after 13:00 at Spruce Lake RV Park. After unloading the trailer the plan was to drive thru the national park. Apparently, during our trip, Rocky Mountain National Park decided to limit the number of people that could go in by vehicle and you had to apply a day in advance to get a ticket. They did allow vehicles in after 16:00 but threw a curveball at us. This was a huge disappointment because it made it so my grandmother couldn’t go in until at 16:00 and we wouldn’t be able to see everything on her list.
The plan changed and we got dinner at Estes Park Brewery. We decided that in the morning we would hire bikes again as we did at Zion and complete a long day hike, then pick up my grandmother and drive in the afternoon around the park and try to knock out as many items on the list as we could.
Day 2 – Bike, Hike, & Drive-thru the NP 06.20.2020
Getting up in the morning we headed to Estes Mountain Bike Shop to hire two bikes for the day. Learning from our mistake at Zion we renting two road bikes instead of mountain bikes for the day which was $55 per person. We drove up fall river road and parked just outside the fall river visor center to bike in. There is a bit of an incline for the majority of the ride until you get close to the Sheep Lakes information center. We stopped here to take some photos in hope that we would see a moose but no luck
We continued on the road to the lawn lake trailhead. Here is where we had planned to do the hike, we wanted to find a more challenging hike and one that had a great view at the end. As we started this hike I realized that this was the exact same hike I did in 2015 for camping. I did not go all the way to the top so at least I was going to see something new. The hike to the top is 10km (6.3mi) and 760m (2500ft) elevation change. It’s not the most scenic hike, there are a few overlooks and at times you do pass a nice flowing river. This took us 3.5 hours to get to the top.
Finally making it to the top there was still snow on the ground (in mid-summer), when we arrived we passed a few people but had the entire lake to ourselves. The view was amazing, but I was hoping for a glacier lake with the iced blue color. Took a few photos and tried to get a good IG photo standing on a rock and I fell into the ice-cold lake haha.
My brother was completely exhausted so I went ahead intending to beat him on the way down, grab the bikes, bike back to the truck, and then at that time it would be 16:00 so I could bring the truck into the park and pick him up. On the way down I was in full gear not skipping a beat making an amazing time and out of nowhere a moose popped right up in front of me, thankfully it was as scared as I was and went into the forest. I stayed around for about 10 minutes trying to get a good photo and then headed back off.
I picked up my brother who was laying on the ground passed out from exhaustion, haha and we called my grandmother to pick her up. She decided she needed the day off due to back pain. A quick note here, this is why I think it’s best to travel now rather than save it for your retirement years. I have taken my grandmother on a few bucket list trips and she has to miss out on so much either because she is physically incapable or needs to rest. Of course, she loves seeing everything she can but she also is upset about things she misses out on.
After looking at the map we decided we would drive over to Beaver Lake and stop at Moraine Park and Glacier Basin along the way. This is probably the better area to be in the national park (especially if you’re on the Estes Park side), but that would have been a long bike ride. We arrived at Beaver Lake Trailhead made a lap around the lake and then headed up to Lake Haiyaha.
We headed back to the campsite to get ready for another drive tomorrow to South Dakota for one more NP. Thanks for reading and liking my post, I appreciate it!