Ryan and I have spent the last few weekends either camping or sleeping in the car, so we were ready for a lazy weekend at home. However, with the fall colors peaking in the mountains we decided that spending some time on Saturday morning driving through Rocky Mountain National Park would be the perfect compliment to our movie night spent at home.
The alarm went off, we enjoyed our tea and breakfast (mmm, bacon), and headed out around 8am. With no real route in mind, we entered through the Fall River Entrance and made our way into the park. With no real wildlife sightings, we continued on and decided to turn onto Fall River Road which would take us up to the Alpine Visitor Center that sits at the top of Trail Ridge Road at around 11, 796ft above sea level.
We stopped here for some coffee and souvenir shopping for our new townhome. We had our eye on some beautiful pieces of canvas wildlife art but due to our tight budget, we each got a smaller, colorful figurine of an elk and a bear to keep on our bookshelf. We then hopped on Trail Ridge Road (which is a drive that I adore– the highest part of this highway is at 12, 183ft above sea level and offers spectacular view of the rocky mountains surrounding us). As we dropped back into the valley, we made our way towards Bear Lake where the changing colors of the aspens always provide a spectacular showing.
The parking gods were with us today! While the Bear Lake Trailhead is one of the most popular in the park and you will need to take a shuttle there about 99% of the time during the summer months, we were able to snag a parking spot right as we pulled through the lot. Due to this amazing luck, instead of continuing on our scenic fall drive, we decided to stop and enjoy some lunch (which we had prepared the night before and brought with us) lakeside. There was not a cloud in the sky, and temperatures were between 70-80F, making for an absolutely perfect day to be outside.
Once we finished lunch, we took a short walk around the lake and then back to our car. We headed back down to the valley, and ultimately back towards the Fall River Entrance to head home for the day; this was not without a few extra stops, of course.
We pulled into an aspen grove that was a bit off the road and relaxed in the shade a bit. The aspens that towered above us provided just enough shade to escape the blazing sun, all the while showing off their magnificent colors and autumn beauty. The colorful season is beginning to come to a close, however, and many of the trees have already begun to shed their leaves and take on a more naked appearance for the winter. This surprisingly made me very happy, however, because the gold leaves seemed to decorate the smaller pine trees which reminded me of Christmas and all the joys that the next season will bring!
All in all, we were home around 3pm which gave us plenty of time to relax and enjoy the rest of our day. We are very lucky to have such a beautiful place as Rocky Mountain National Park so close to home. Having easy access to the mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers is what makes life out here in Colorado so great. The goal is to live a life that you don’t need a vacation from anyway, isn’t it? We had gotten our fill of the fresh air and fall colors for the day, and now it is time for a nap!
“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn”