I’m feeling a little nostalgic today, and want to write about one of my favorite places in the whole United States– Rocky Mountain National Park. It reminds me of fourteen-hour, cliché road trips with my family from Oklahoma, through infinitely flat Kansas, and on to Colorado, only stopping in the middle of nowhere for lunch with fruit cobbler. It reminds me of celebrating my little brother’s birthday and the Fourth of July each year. It reminds me of summer nights watching fireworks or drinking games with flaming Dr. Pepper shots and my best friend. It reminds me of long, breathtaking hikes with my mom to beautiful destinations full of fresh air.
I spent three consecutive summers vacationing in Colorado with my family. We’ve been to multiple cities, but soon found that our favorite location was a house available to rent just outside of Estes Park. We would spend our weeks by one person choosing each day’s activity. We’ve been hiking, fishing, ATV-ing, touring a haunted mansion, white-water rafting, or just driving through looking for elk, big-horn sheep, and moose. I love active vacations, and this place may be the reason why!
Estes Park in itself is stunning. During the summer, flowers are blooming throughout the city and a river runs along side a string of small stores, ice cream parlors, and coffee shops. Swoon. There are tourism offices all over the place that can help you find activities from ATV rides in the Rockies to fishing trips. The ATV ride is my all-time favorite Fourth of July memory, and as for fishing, well, we spent six hours there and didn’t catch anything. An experience is an experience, right?
You can get a pass to the park for only a few USD that will last you all day. Once you’re in, you can choose to hike, watch for wildlife, have a picnic, or whatever your heart desires. The funniest thing I’ve seen there was a woman sitting in front of an easel painting the landscape before her while her husband stood behind her holding up a pink umbrella over her for shade, ha!
I have no doubt that Estes Park is beautiful in the winter, but if you’re planning to go for hiking you need to go in the late summer. If there is a lot of snow over the winter, some of the snow covering the trails hasn’t melted until late July! When my mom and I completed The Loch (first week of July), we had to tromp over a huge pile of snow to make it to the end. I’ve done many different hikes and have loved all of them. If you do a little research you will find a complete list, along with their length, elevation, and degree of difficulty.
If you don’t want to be “disturbed” by other hikers, make sure to head out early in the morning. For me, there’s nothing that can beat the quiet, cool breeze of the mountains in the morning. It’s a perfect escape from whatever stress you may be accumulating. I truly hope that at some point in my life, preferably sooner than later, I can call Colorado home. For now, I’ll keep the photos and the sweet memories of summer adventures with my family and my best friend.
If you’re interested, check out the article I wrote for GAPBRAVE over the Rocky Mountain National Park, including my recommendations for the best activites.