Visit Colorado: A Drive Through Rocky Mountain National Park
20 Sep 2019
Disclosure: My visit was covered by Rocky Mountain National Park. All opinions are my own.
As a kid, I loved geography. Don’t get me wrong… I loved art, and everything to do with art… but geography was my second passion in school. I loved drawing maps, doing research projects, in hopes of some day visiting those places I was studying about.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is located in northern Colorado, and spans the Continental Divide.
In 2018, Rocky Mountain National Park was the 3rd most visited Nation Park system in the United States, with 4.5 million people coming through the park.
You will find snow capped mountains, vast forests, and more wildlife than you can imagine.
We arrived at the Rocky Mountain National Park Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and were welcomed by Jean Muenchrath, who is a Park Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park.
She gave us a very detailed outline of what we were going to see, as well as viewing and driving tips, and ways to keep safe.
Trail Ridge Road
While Rocky Mountain National Park is amazing to visit all year, driving Trail Ridge Road is an experience in itself.
Rocky Mountain National Park has the highest paved roads in any national park in the United States, with Trail Ridge Road cresting at 12,183 feet. You will get some of the best views of the park from this road.
While driving along Trail Ridge Road, be prepared for rapid weather changes and very strong winds.
When we were there, the temperature dropped as we ascended higher into the mountains. It was worth it though… the view from the stop at the Rainbow Curve, where you will see the “Road Closed” sign, was spectacular!
When we visited, Trail Ridge Road was scheduled to be open, but they received a large snowfall that required the roads to be cleared, so it remained closed for a few more weeks.
Typically, Trail Ridge Road opens the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and will open and close throughout Spring (depending on weather) until mid-June. There may be periodic closers in after Labor Day weekend, as storms do start. The road closes for the season in mid to late October.
You will see many people stopped to take pictures.
If you happen to see someone alone, offer to take their picture for them.
If you wonder why the roads are closed for snow, it’s becasue of the sheer volume of snow, what si required to clear these roads, and the safety of its visitors.
The snow walls along Trail Ridge Road are truly a site to see!
Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague Lake is a scenic lake on the south side of Glacier Creek.
This lake has a an easy wheelchair accessible hike, complete with boardwalks and bridges.
You’ll see beautiful views of Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.
We saw lots of people fishing, as Sprague Lake is known for Brook Trout.
Chapel On The Rock
The Chapel on the Rock, officially known as Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel, is an operating Catholic chapel and frequently visited tourist landmark in Allenspark, Colorado. Located on the grounds of Saint Malo Retreat and Spiritual Center of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, this beautiful building stands out from its surroundings, yet somehow seems to fit right in to the terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park.
This beautiful chapel was visited by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993. On this visit, he blessed the chapel, and walked the grounds.
Unfortunately, a fire in 2011 destroyed a majority of the Retreat Centre, forcing it to close. In 2013, rock slides destroyed much of the surrounding areas, but the Chapel on the Rock survived.
The chapel is open to the public, and many people stop to take pictures of this architectural wonder.
Rocky Mountain National Park Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is located at:
1000 US Hwy 36, Estes Park, Colorado 80517
Sunday to Saturday: 8:00am to 4:30pm
Get Social With Rocky Mountain National Park
The folks running the social media accounts for Rocky Mountain National Park do an amazing job of making you want to not only visit, but be there in the moment. There are several accounts I recommend following:
Rocky Mountain Park: Twitter
If you are in the Colorado area, make sure you visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Best to go after mid-June through the summer so you can drive Trail Ridge Road to the crest.