While in Colorado we had made it a point to see the Rocky Mountains. After all, these mountains were a huge part in my wanting to go to Denver in the first place.
The Rocky Mountain National Park is about a 1.5-hour drive from Denver and a beautiful one at that. As you head from Denver towards Boulder you can see the towering mountains in the distance, with the highest peaks coated in white. We drove through Boulder and Estes Park and took winding roads as we curved through the mountains.
Each turn more beautiful than the next with pine trees hanging on the mountain edges and snow smattering the tips.
Before entering the park we stopped at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center just outside of the park. A friendly park ranger highlighted on a map the places we should scope out. The park is large spanning 415 square miles so it can be overwhelming to know where to start. The ranger assessed our gear, experience level (which was low) and recommended Sprague Lake and Bear Lake for easy hikes.
Entry into the park is $25 per car. Once in the park, you’ll snake through with easy-to-follow signs detailing the different trails. Sprague Lake was frozen over and gave a nice view of the Twin Peaks. It was a short and easy path to follow and was a great warm-up before Bear Lake.
The drive to Bear Lake was more challenging as we increased our elevation to almost 9,500 and followed steeper and icier roads. This area of the park was packed with skiers, hikers, and snowshoers compared to the quiet Sprague Lake. The views explained the hype though as the lake opens up to an even closer and more spectacular view of the Twin Peaks set against a deep blue sky. A light snow fell as we walked on the frozen lake and then around the permitters marked path. We kept snapping pictures and saying “wow” and “I can’t believe it” because every view was as breathtaking as the next.
We had been saying all day how we hoped to see some wildlife but so far had had no luck. On our drive out of the park, however, we spotted a family of deer off the side of the road! With huge antlers and a calm demeanor, we watched them casually graze.
The entire experience was incredible and one we’ll never forget!