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Rocky Mountain National Park

While on my Colorado trip, I went to Rocky Mountain National Park(RMNP), August 18, 2008. Locations include Many Curves Park, Rainbow Curve, Lava Cliffs, and the Alpine Ridge Trail.

Click on the thumbnail images to get larger ones (around 100-300K). Click on the "huge" link to get the full size pictures (around 3M). Around 43 pictures included.

Click on the blue dots on the trip below to jump to that section of the page.

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Estes Park

I passed through Estes Park to get to RMNP. Took a couple of quick pictures. Note that Estes Park is actually a town. Much like Winter Park. Rocky Mountain National Park, on the other hand, is a proper park, complete with visitor center and rangers.

[Estes Park]
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[View of mountains from Estes Park]
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The Estes Park marker is scenic and winds up being a popular place where people get their picture taken. I had to wait a couple of minutes till it was clear for me to take a picture. The view from the area is very pretty, but is definitely outclassed by RMNP.

Bull Elk (it's true, I tell you!)

After getting directions, a map, and suggestions at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and entering at the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, I took Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34) towards the Alpine Visitor Center. I stopped at a pull-off to check out the area. A guy by a car across the road from me told me there was a bull-elk down the road like 200 feet.

[Blurry bull-elk]
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[A bull-elk in a field]
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[Traffic stopping to check out the bull-elk]
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I walked down the road and sure enough there was the elk, in the field. He was just contentedly munching on grass. For a while all I could get was a picture of his back side, and to be honest, elk-butt isn't all that photogenic. Then he turned. The telephoto zoom on the camera is pretty crappy, as the first picture shows. But zoomed out, it comes out decently. And the elk was kind enough to have a assume a proper Majestic Wildlife pose. The last picture shows what happens to traffic when there's some sort of animal within viewing range.

Later in the day, there was another elk, maybe 15 feet from the road. I didn't have it in me to rubberneck (I don't like when others do it) and there was no place close by to park, I so missed a better shot. Oh well, I like this one.

Many Parks Curve

Many Parks looks to the south east at a number of mountains.

[Many Parks Curve, RMNP]
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[Many Parks Curve, RMNP]
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[Many Parks Curve, RMNP]
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Some shots of the mountains visible from Many Parks Curve. In the second shot, the path is visible. There are parking areas on both sides of the road, with a cross walk to get to the south side of the road. In general, I was trying to get the snow-capped mountains to stand out.

[More mountains from Many parks Curve]
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[A plaque describing what mountains are visible]
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[Still more Many Parks Curve mountains]
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More mountain pictures. The second picture is of the plaque that tells you what mountains are visible. The third shot is just to the right of the plaque, in case you want to try to figure out what is what. The first picture is looking to the left.

[A Stellar's Jay in a tree]
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[Plaque describing 'wildlife' in the area]
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[A chipmonk]
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There was a pretty bird that landed in the tree. It's a Stellar's Jay and is visible about halfway up the tree, just to the right of the main trunk, in the first picture. It's a combination of blue and black.

The second picture is of a pretty tame chipmonk. It would wander up to people, check out their hands, in case there was any food, and wander around by their feet. Apparently it's not aware of the signs that say not to feed the animals, such as the one in the third picture.

[More mountain pictures]
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[Frank in Many Parks Curve]
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Another mountain picture and a hand-held self-shot of me. I was sitting on some rocks, near the edge.

[Snow-capped mountains]
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[More snow-capped mountains]
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And a few more pictures of snow-capped mountains from Many Parks Curve, as I headed back to my car. The walking path can be seen inthe lower right side of the picture.

More Elk Action

A bit further down the road there was more traffic as a herd of elk were hanging out a little beyond the road. Photos ensued.

[Pine tree forest]
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[More Elk]
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[Flowers in the foreground, elk in the background]
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The first picture is of the pine tree forest. It looked really cool, as it just kept going as far as I could see. The second picture shows some elk hanging out munching on grass just beyond the trees. The last picture is trying to be a little artsy, with a flower in the foreground and the elk in the background.

[Sitting elk in the forest]
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[More elk in a field]
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Note that the elk in the upper left is sitting next to the trees in the first picture. The second picture is more elk in the meadow.

[More elk rubbernecking]
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[Entering higher terrain]
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As usual, wildlife means traffic jams as people stop in the road to check things out. The sign in the second picture kind of sounded ominous, as it looked pretty nice out at that point. It got a little more cloudy and colder as Trail Ridge road climbs abovce the treeline, but in this case the weather didn't get too bad.

Rainbow Curve

Rainbow Curve has a nice view into the valley of Horseshow Park below.

[A bird on a sign]
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[Close-up of the bird]
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[The bird facing the camera]
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I wanted to get some pictures of the valley and mountains. But right before I did that, a bird landed right in front of me. I took a picture quickly before he flew away. And then, when he didn't immediately fly away, I took a picture along side him. I was holding the camera about a foot away from him as I was standing maybe two feet from him. Then I took another picture when he looked at me as if to ask, "So, are you going to feed me?" He didn't fly away when the answer was no.

Addendum: the bird is a Clark's Nutcracker (thanks to a co-worker for that).

[The other side of the bird]
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[More mountains]
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I took a picture of the other side of the bird. And then finally one of the area, with no bird.

[Bird and mountains]
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[A sign]
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I wanted to get the clouds, mountains, and valleys. The bird remained in the picture, which isn't bad. And a sign that explains the area.

Lava Cliffs

The Lava Cliffs stop is pretty high, around 12,000' up. I took a few picture of the tundra area there.

[Tundra and mountains to the southwest]
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[Tundra and mountains to the southwest]
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Two shots of the tundra ("land with no trees") with the snow-capped mountains in the distance. This was a worms-eye-view, to give a better view of the ground as it stretched out. Not just because I was out of breath.

[Tundra and mountains to the southwest]
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[The lava cliffs]
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[A moth or butterfly]
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Another tundra shot. The snow in the area is clearly visible. And one shot of the actual Lava Cliffs, looking northeast. And finally a shot of a moth or butterfly that landed on the ground. It was more striking that I thought.

Alpine Ridge Trail

Eventually, I made it to the Alpine Visitor Center. It's at just below 11,800 feet. The Alpine Ridge Trail is short trail up steps to the tundra area. It's about 200 feet up and the air is starting to get thin; I had to stop periodically to catch my breath and let my pulse rate slow down.

[Frank at 12,000 feet]
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[The tundra]
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A shot of me at the high point. The road actually was higher, near the Lava Cliff. They don't mark it (anymore) because too many people were stopping their cars in the road so they could get a picture next to the sign.

The second shot is of the tundra area. The signs say because there is such a short growing season, that the plants there take 100 years to recover from being trampled by footsteps.

[More tundra]
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[A sign on the glaciers]
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[Still more tundra]
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More tundra and snow. The sign then says there's no need to go further. This is the continental divide. A man there was explaining it to his kid. He threw a snowball to the right and said, "Here's one for the Atlantic ocean." And then he threw another one off to the left and said, "And here's one for the Pacific Ocean." I thought that was cool. And finally, a shot to the right, looking to the east.

Related Colorado pictures:
Boulder pictures
Stacey's wedding in Winter Park pictures




This page last modified Wednesday, 08-Jul-2009 01:49:14 EDT.
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