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An alpine picnic is definitely something to add to your bucket list, your to do list, or whatever type of life list you keep. About 3 1/2 years ago, we went camping in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and it was a trip full of awesome memories. So much so that we still dream of living in the mountains, though we're completely happy and content where we are right now in our little neck of the woods.
Recently, I'd read on the Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook page that the Old Fall River Road is closed, due to flood damage. In fact, they're saying it will be closed through 2014. When it does eventually open back up, I encourage you to drive this old one way road up through the mountains to the alpine tundra. It's a spectacular drive with gorgeous views and definitely something noone should miss out on.
Driving the Old Fall River Road can take half a day or more, depending how much you stop, and I'll write more about the road itself in a later post; but just to give you a small picture of what it was like…. It's 11 miles long, gravel (no pavement at all), one way, no guard rails of any sort, and quite a few switchbacks as drivers make their way up the mountain. The road actually opened in 1920 and was the original road to the top, so to say, in Rocky Mountain National Park. It winds up through the forested mountains, from Horseshoe Park to Fall River Pass at 11,796 feet above sea level. Drivers eventually come into the alpine tundra, where absolutely no trees exist because it's just too cold for them to live; so, pack a jacket. The road ends near the Alpine Visitor Center, so visitors can take Trail Ridge Road back down through the mountains.
We love finding “off the beaten path” roads and trails when we're traveling, especially in the national parks. Nature abounds on many of the back roads, and it's just a quiet retreat from the mainstream tourist attractions. We did run into quite a few people; it's such a small world. We'd drive a little, get out and take pictures; everyone was really patient with each other. We were all trying to soak up every view and every piece of nature. For me, views like this remind me of a Creator at work…. an amazing Creator who makes all things beautiful.
Once we reached the top, the views were even more spectacular, no matter which direction we faced. Elk grazed in the meadows below. There was a bit of snow in the tundra at end of summer; soon there would be a lot more.The wind was biting, but that didn't stop us from enjoying a picnic, exploring a couple of the trails, and soaking it all in. The kids were so little. I'm not sure what Jacob was doing here, probably acting like his silly self, but I promise you that it didn't drop off where he was…. believe me, I freak out over steep drop offs (you should have seen me hanging on to them when we visited the Grand Canyon, another story for another day). The clouds were so close, they cast ginormous shadows that covered the mountainsides. And I've talked about this before, but I love the sound of the wind making its way down through the mountain passes. It's an amazing sound, haunting and mysterious.
On the way back down Trail Ridge Road, we had beautiful views of the mountains and even found a lake nestled in amongst the peaks.