Colorado is beautiful. Period. Granted, most people don't account for about half of the state being high plains. A vast undulating landscape stretches out across the horizon like a sheet on a giant's bed in Eastern Colorado. Most people think of the Rocky Mountains or Denver when Colorado comes to mind. I have visited Colorado at least 10 times in my life but never had much of an opportunity to explore freely. I've been here mostly on tours with bands, driving tour vehicles, passing through on cross-country road trips with friends, or simply touching down at the Denver airport for a few hours between flights. I was glad for the experience of this adventure.
I should really be writing this blog post for my wedding photo/video brand but I wanted this to be more about the experience than the work. Here's the groundwork that lead to our trip:
Passenger Atlas, our wedding brand, booked a wedding in South Georgia early in 2017 for November. Over the summer the client called me with some news, "We're cancelling our wedding..." My heart sunk a little bit but immediately perked back up when they said "...and now we're eloping in Colorado!" So, after readjusting everything me, Nella, and Robbie flew out to Colorado for the wedding in Estes Park. The wedding turned out great and I hope to post the gallery soon on Passenger Atlas. Enough about the work! We booked EXTRA days in Colorado just to hang out and see stuff!
After arriving in Denver we started west in our rental car. Home base was the town of Dillon. Smack dab in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, Dillon is home to the Dillon Reservoir. The 3,200 acre lake is a water supply reservoir for the city of Denver. Nearby to Dillon are the resort towns of Frisco, Breckenridge, and Vail. Our AirBnB was situated on a steep slope that offered a great view of the mountains in the distance. It was a gorgeous place to be.
We shot the wedding on Saturday in Estes Park. Sunday we explored Vail, Breckenridge, Frisco, and the Dillon Reservoir. Walking around the Vail Farmers' Market was interesting. The vendors were artisan and unique. We had some delicious Spanish Paella from a street vendor. Local cheese, wines, crafts, woodworks, and of course produce were on display and for purchase. Ski slopes were visible from virtually everywhere in Vail, Frisco, and Breckenridge. I have always wanted to ski in Colorado.
The highlight of our trip was Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a great breakfast Monday morning at the Log Cabin Cafe in Frisco before starting our drive. I ate my entire plate of Eggs Benedict and was glad for it later on in the day. It's a good idea to bring along some snacks and water bottles when visiting a national park. I knew this park was going to have some big mountains and amazing landscapes but I never really know what to expect until I get there. And once you're there it's hard to take it all in. Being there is important, I think, when visiting special places.
We approached the park from the west on US-34 coming out of Grand Lake. It was dreary day and I had done my best to accept the fact that many of the views would be obscured by clouds. I also realized that the rain and clouds would make for an interesting experience. It was cold and damp out on the mountains and the mist lingered on my clothes. Clouds were passing right in front of me as I walked among tall trees and even taller mountains. Everything was dark, green, and moody. I loved it.
Trail Ridge Road ventures through the park from Grand Lake in the west to Estes Park in the east. The road runs for about 50 miles through some of the most unique terrain in America. Trail Ridge Road has the distinction of being the highest continually paved road in North America topping out at over 12,100 feet above sea level. Climbing the winding road provided genuine geological display everywhere we looked. We crossed the Continental Divide at Milner Pass, saw elk grazing in meadows, and rain drops falling on the surface of alpine lakes. A good stretch of the road is above the timberline. The trees grew shorter and shorter until they finally gave way to rocky tundra. Snow is on the ground year round at this elevation in places. Even though it was August, the temperature outside was in the 30s and it made me wish I had dressed warmer.
Bear Lake is a clear alpine lake. The fog on the lake's surface, the dramatic peaks rising in the background, and tall evergreens all around created a surreal atmosphere. It was quiet except for our footsteps and faint raindrops landing. Evidence of time and changing landforms are everywhere. Glacial activity carved out Bear Lake and others in the area. Glaciers left behind moraines throughout the park over great periods of time. A few very small glaciers still remain in the park to this day. Bear Lake Coordinates: 40.31324°N 105.648222°W
I'm already wanting to plan another trip to RMNP. I recently bought a nice tent by MSR and haven't been able to use it yet. Camping in the Rockies in late summer would be incredible. Maybe next time!