Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

in Pinmapplelast year

Fast flow of Alberta Falls

Rocky Mountain National Park in early May can be a slew of different weather. In one day of hiking you can go from wildflower blooming meadow to deep snow covered trails and from overcast to sun burning to rainstorm all in a matter of hours. In fact during my one day exploring the park this is exactly what happened to me.

Bear Lake in the Spring

I started out at the Bear Lake trailhead. It is a very easy, very accessible trail that is a short, mostly level jaunt from the parking lot to the edge of the lake. But at 9,475ft elevation it was covered in deep snow. I was lucky I was there early morning as the trail is popular and becomes quite slushy as the day progresses. The lake itself was mostly iced over though too thin to try and walk out on. With giant peaks of the Rockies looming just behind the lake I could imagine the early morning reflections that must draw photographers in the summer season.

An offshoot trail from here leads about a mile up to one of the best waterfalls in the park, called Alberta Falls. A glacially fed river tumbles down a narrow gorge. This gave me a perfect opportunity for some long exposure shots. And while waiting for the photos I was kept company by some very bold chipmunks. Grey and stellar jays played in the trees above me, woodpeckers pounded away at trees in the forest, and big wild turkeys put on mating displays on the drive up.



A stellar jay playing hard to get
Families enjoyed the Bear Lake loop trail, while thos a bit more adventurous, and with better gear, headed up to some of the smaller, higher lakes. Except for the bird calls, the forest noises were muffled by a thick blanket of snow. A rocky outcropping overlooking Nymph Lake provided yet another great view of the continental divide and the frozen lake below.



Pictures of the Inspirational Rocky Mountains

Driving back down a ways my next stop was at the Sprague Lake Nature Trail. This is another very easy, and beautiful path around a lake that even boasts wheelchair accessibility. It was while I was here that the overcast weather started to dissipate leaving picturesque landscapes. A couple of friends set out in a canoe, slowly drifting with their fishing lines bobbing up and down. Once again views of the high peaks of the continental divide showed themselves, lending a stellar background. It's no wonder that this was the place recommended to me for early morning sunrise shots.



Sprague Lake

The lake seemed quite shallow and did provide a great habitat for some local wildlife. I imagine that bears and mountain lions make their way down while there are no people around, but I did see a family of mallards and Canada geese. This place will be on the list to return to for sunrise/sunset.


Not a bad spot for a picnic
Next I headed down in elevation to a beautiful expansive meadow called Moraine Park. The meadow is what is left behind after a glacier receded back into the mountains. The scoured earth left behind is now covered in grass and a favorite feeding place for elk and deer. A large herd could be seen lounging far back in the meadow. Picnic tables were set up and a picturesque river ran through the middle of the meadow.


A river runs through it


If you were planning a picnic lunch stop, then this should probably be it. It'll be a good place to bust out your binoculars as well.


Rocks in the Rockies


Rain clouds and snow banks
From here I headed back to the main road and followed it high up into the mountains as far as the park would let me go, a place called Rainbow Curve. The views in all directions were magnificent. I found myself pulling over at every overlook. And now the white puffy clouds were starting to take on a dark grey tinge letting me know I better hurry if I want to fit this all in. The snow banks were 10ft high next to the road in some places and I watched the outside temperature dropping on my car's digital dash readout. The rains did come but not before I could walk past where I could drive and really soak in the high altitude splendor of the Rocky Mountains.


Different high elevation ecosystems

I hope you enjoyed the journey through one of America's beautiful National Parks
You can check it out here on pinmapple.com:
[//]:# (!pinmapple 40.33049 lat -105.62694 long Rocky Mountain National Park d3scr)

-Dai Mar


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Wow, it looks beautiful I hope you enjoyed a lot there and also make some good and beautiful memories over there.

Thanks Chinay. It was better than I imagined. It is pretty fun for a Hawaii boy to go play in the snow and see these sights!

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@dtam Your photos are amazing. I have also heard about the Rocky Mountains. The combination of rocky mountains, pine forests, waterfalls, snow fields, and glaciers must be a wonderful landscape.