Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to listen to your stories of what you did for your summer vacation.  I am just being honest here. Once in a while you will be able to corner someone and sit them down and get them to look at your pictures.  But for the most part that are just being nice.

So with that in mind, why in the heck am I sitting down to write about our summer vacation?  Well in this case I believe it is because it is to a location that is such a national gem.  I write this article with the hope of getting you to go to this amazing park.  The park of which I speak is none other than the amazing Rocky Mountain National park near Estes Park Colorado.

For a complete history of the park of course you can check wiki Rocky Mountain National Park and for another rich resource you can check the National Parks Service website for up to date information http://www.nps.gov .

We knew our time in the park was going to be a bit limited so we had to attempt to cram in as much as possible.  We picked up a few books on the park to give us some ideas of the items that must be hit.  The problem is there are so many amazing things and we wanted to hit all of them.  One of the most spectacular hikes in the park is to the top of Longs Peak. The problem with that is, it is a hike that needs to begin at 3:00 am or it is a two day hike where you camp part way up.  We were not going to have the time and were not outfitted correctly to do that camping so Longs Peak had to be scratched.  Put it back on the list for next time.

On the first day in the park we knew we were only going to have part of a day so we decided to attempt to do a hike that was not to difficult and easy to get to.  The area around Bear Lake would fit that bill perfectly so off we went.  When we arrived we discovered that due to road construction on that trail there were only busses taking people up and due to a car fire blocking the road, the wait was going to be up to three hours to get up to the hiking area.  The ranger recommended a wonderful second option for us

Rocky Mountain National Park Waterfalls

The park has a plethora of waterfalls to hike to, view and even get refreshed in and two of the best were relatively close and not too strenuous of a hike to get to.  Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls are beautiful and certainly worth the time.  They are both part of the Wild Basin Trailhead so it is just a matter of extending your hike a bit to get to the more powerful and Ouzel Falls

Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls Rocky Mountain National Park

More details on this hike and the falls: http://www.colorado-hiking-vacations.com/rocky-mountain-national-park-trails.html

Chapel on the Rock

One of the best treats of the trip was a totally unexpected find of The Chapel on the Rock.

Saint Catherine of Siena's Chapel Saint Malo church

The Chapel on the Rock or the official name Saint Catherine of Siena’s Chapel. This chapel is located on the grounds of the Saint Malo Retreat Center, the retreat center.  It just so happened that the sky was perfect for a picture when we went buy.  The only thing I could have hoped for would be for the church to actually be all lit up inside and this would have be the perfect Thomas KinKade painting.

Top of the Mountain Alpine Visitor Center

The next day we got up quite early because we wanted do see the early light on the mountains and do a very long hike.  The advantage of getting going early is that the traffic is very light. And we were able to get to our destination quite quickly.  On this day we wanted to go to the top of that mountain.  That meant take the trail ridge road up to the Alpine Visitor Center.  We knew the views were going to be spectacular and there would be plenty of opportunities for some great hikes.  We explored all day long and the views were indeed stunning.

Mountain top view Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk and Wildlife at Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk and local wildlife

The one little caution is that there is one road that is so high along the top of the mountain that there was one place where there were no sides on either side of the road. Now that experience was a little unnerving.


Dream Lake and Emerald Lake

The next day was going to be another early morning.  I wanted to capture mountain reflections on the still lake.  We got up, the sky was clear the winds were calm.  We were blessed with a perfect morning.  Being it was a weekend morning, there was no road construction on the way up the Bear Lake.  Once you get up to Bear Lake there is a beautiful hike to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake.   The peaks behind these lakes are majestic and incredibly picturesque and we had a perfect morning to capture them.

Dream Lake Emerald Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

If these images did not encourage you to make your plans to get to Rocky Mountain National Park for one of your next vacations it is probable that nothing will.  But you cannot say that I did not try to get you there.  Hope to see you and the next photographic adventure.

Many of these images are available at the online gallery.

Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website