Colorado Vacation and Rocky Mountain National Park Photography on Trail Ridge Road

Alpine flowers in the Rocky Mountains

Alpine flowers in the Rocky Mountains
Alpine flowers in the Rocky Mountains | Source

Rocky Mountains Vacation


Many pictures of Rocky Mountain photography will be shared in this hub showcasing Upper Beaver Meadow and Trail Ridge Road while addressing one particularly scenic day that my mother and I enjoyed on a Colorado vacation some years ago in the month of July.

Four days of our vacation were being spent in Estes Park and each day we ventured out in different directions to absorb as much of the beauty as was possible in that length of time. Estes Park provided a breathtakingly beautiful portion of our eleven days spent in Colorado.

We had read about these different areas of the Rocky Mountain National Park ahead of time when planning this Colorado vacation.

Reading about things and personally getting to savor these spectacular sites along this scenic route tantalized all of our senses.

Hopefully the pictures in this hub will show what awaits visitors to this part of the world.


Upper Beaver Meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

Upper Beaver Meadow
Upper Beaver Meadow | Source

Upper Beaver Meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

Upper Beaver Meadow
Upper Beaver Meadow | Source

Scenery in Upper Beaver Meadow with Beaver Dams

Click thumbnail to view full-size
See the dams built by beavers?Scenery in Upper Beaver MeadowThose beaver dams are really thick in this area of the meadow!
See the dams built by beavers?
See the dams built by beavers? | Source
Scenery in Upper Beaver Meadow
Scenery in Upper Beaver Meadow | Source
Those beaver dams are really thick in this area of the meadow!
Those beaver dams are really thick in this area of the meadow! | Source


Colorado Vacation Spots


The first part of our day was spent exploring Upper Beaver Meadow by car and by doing a bit of strolling through the meadow.


Upper Beaver Meadow is on the East side of the Rocky Mountain National Park and sits at an elevation of around 7800 feet.


Elk and deer are frequently seen and other animals that are occasionally sighted include badgers, fox, coyotes, mountain lions and even bear.


The high meadow derives its name for good reason...evidence of beavers building their dams are easily spotted along the waterways.


These Rocky Mountain beavers are truly busy ones!


We saw evidence of quite a few dams in existence and actually saw some busy beavers swimming and diving down into the water around one of their dams with a branch in tow.


My mother and I wondered just how often these waterways take a new path through the meadow due to the beaver's actions?


Obviously the water would follow a path of least resistance.




The trees one commonly finds ringing Upper Beaver Meadow are aspens which have leaves that turn a glorious golden color in the Fall as well as Douglas fir and lodge-pole pines.

Riding horses in Upper Beaver Meadow

Riding horses in Upper Beaver Meadow
Riding horses in Upper Beaver Meadow | Source

Long's Peak and Upper Beaver Meadows


One could obviously spend much more time in Upper Beaver Meadow.


Some people were enjoying this special area by riding horses.


Hikers can enjoy taking different trails.


One of them takes one to Deer Ridge Junction and is 1 mile in duration. If one wishes to go a bit further, a 2.7 mile trail takes one to Morraine Park. For those enthusiasts who wish to experience even more, a 6.5 mile hike takes one to Trail Ridge Road.


Speaking of roads, the road into Upper Beaver Meadow is dirt and goes just a little over 1 1/2 miles to the end which is how my mother and I viewed the meadow.


In the winter, the road is closed to automobiles but can still be accessed by walking in with skis, snowshoes and the like.

Elk Bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park


People who like to fish can find plenty of trout. Rainbow, cutthroat, brook and German brown trout have all been caught in the park's streams, rivers and lakes.



My mother and I were about to take one of the most spectacular 40 mile drives ever...the Trail Ridge Road.

Scenery near the bottom of the Trail Ridge Road near Estes Park

Scenery near the bottom of the Trail Ridge Road near Estes Park
Scenery near the bottom of the Trail Ridge Road near Estes Park | Source
Such spectacular scenery!
Such spectacular scenery! | Source

National scenic byway


U.S. 34 is the numbered highway that takes one on this spectacular sightseeing journey on the highest continuous paved road in the United States.


From the literature that we picked up, it said to allow four to six hours to drive to the Alpine Visitor Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road and return to Estes Park.


Obviously being a bit of a "camera bug" I knew to allow the maximum or even more time to enjoy this wondrous drive which takes one through multiple life zones.


As we kept driving and going up in elevation the trees started becoming more stunted in growth and eventually ceased growing altogether.


This is one trip that can only be enjoyed in the summertime because deep snowdrifts generally have the upper elevations of Trail Ridge Road closed the rest of the year.


The lower portions of this road are at 8,000 feet elevation and over 10 miles of it are at elevations of over 11,000 feet with the highest altitude reaching 12,183 feet above sea level.

Tourists on the Trail Ridge Road

Tourists looking at scenery from one of the parking areas on Trail Ridge Road.
Tourists looking at scenery from one of the parking areas on Trail Ridge Road. | Source

Trail Ridge Road


There are multiple parking areas provided for one's vehicle as one traverses the Trail Ridge Road.



One can gaze upon the surrounding scenery from different vantage points and take pictures as I happily did.

Scenery from Trail Ridge Road

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scenery from Trail Ridge RoadScenery viewed from a parking area along the Trail Ridge Road.Sign on Trail Ridge RoadMy mother at one of the parking areas along Trail Ridge RoadSome beautiful alpine flowers near the top of Trail Ridge Road
Scenery from Trail Ridge Road
Scenery from Trail Ridge Road | Source
Scenery viewed from a parking area along the Trail Ridge Road.
Scenery viewed from a parking area along the Trail Ridge Road. | Source
Sign on Trail Ridge Road
Sign on Trail Ridge Road | Source
My mother at one of the parking areas along Trail Ridge Road
My mother at one of the parking areas along Trail Ridge Road | Source
Some beautiful alpine flowers near the top of Trail Ridge Road
Some beautiful alpine flowers near the top of Trail Ridge Road | Source

A Tour of Trail Ridge Road

Scenery near the top of Trail Ridge Road

Scenery near the top of Trail Ridge Road
Scenery near the top of Trail Ridge Road | Source

Alpine Visitor Center

Alpine flowers

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Alpine flowers blooming amidst rocksAlpine flowers
Alpine flowers blooming amidst rocks
Alpine flowers blooming amidst rocks | Source
Alpine flowers
Alpine flowers | Source

Alpine Visitor's Center


At the uppermost elevations of Trail Ridge Road whether one initiates the drive from the east entrance of Estes Park or from the west entrance near Grand Lake, one finds the Alpine Visitor's Center.

This is a great stopping point where one can get out and walk and view the amazing alpine tundra vegetation.

The profuse vegetation blankets this high elevation of the Rocky Mountains Continental Divide in the summer with thick and often multicolored flowers which can be seen at close view.

The visitor's center offers people a place to not only get out and stretch their legs, but it also provides a place in which one can purchase food and refreshments; use restrooms, and buy souvenirs if desired.

My mother chose to stay down at the Alpine Visitor's Center while I walked up higher and took these photos of the tundra plants.

Living in Houston, Texas which is not that far above sea level, we really noticed the difference in altitude!

At those sky-high elevations most people took their time in walking and one could easily become sunburned if one spent much time there on a bright day such as we enjoyed.

Tundra area above Alpine Visitor's Center

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Alpine Visitor's Center is down below in this photo.People walking up to the alpine tundra area above the Alpine Visitor's Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road.Sign posted at the top of this area.Alpine flowersThese alpine tundra flowers literally blanket the earth up here!
Alpine Visitor's Center is down below in this photo.
Alpine Visitor's Center is down below in this photo. | Source
People walking up to the alpine tundra area above the Alpine Visitor's Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road.
People walking up to the alpine tundra area above the Alpine Visitor's Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road. | Source
Sign posted at the top of this area.
Sign posted at the top of this area. | Source
Alpine flowers
Alpine flowers | Source
These alpine tundra flowers literally blanket the earth up here!
These alpine tundra flowers literally blanket the earth up here! | Source

Alpine flowers


Some of the plants that grow on the tundra include anemone, saxifrage, dwarf and alpine clovers, snowball, sky pilot, snowball and king's crown according to some literature that we acquired.

Plowing Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Scenery on Trail Ridge Road

Scenery on Trail Ridge Road
Scenery on Trail Ridge Road | Source
A Natural History of Trail Ridge Road: Rocky Mountain National Park's Highway to the Sky
A Natural History of Trail Ridge Road: Rocky Mountain National Park's Highway to the Sky

It always pays to read about where one might be traveling ahead of time. It makes it much more interesting when viewing it in person knowing some history behind it.

 

Lava Cliffs


We were to see many more gorgeous views as we followed the Trail Ridge Road back down, often pulling over to take more pictures.

One of these was at the Lava Cliffs turnout. From this vantage point different mountains can be viewed...Desolation Peaks at 12,949 feet; Mount Chapin at 12,454 feet; Mount Chiquita at 13,069 feet and Ypsilon Mountain at 13,514 feet.

Whoever named Mount Chiquita ( Chiquita in Spanish meaning "very small" ) must have had a sense of humor!

Apparently at some times of the year people actually do technical climbing on these 300 foot tall lava cliffs! But it was July at the time of our visit and they were still closed due to snow.

Lava Cliffs on the Trail Ridge Road

Lava Cliffs on the Trail Ridge Road
Lava Cliffs on the Trail Ridge Road | Source
Lava Cliffs
Lava Cliffs | Source

More snow was to be seen and enjoyed at these high elevations of the Trail Ridge Road even in July!

Snowfield in July on the Trail Ridge Road

Snowfield in July on the Trail Ridge Road
Snowfield in July on the Trail Ridge Road | Source
Looks like fun ahead!
Looks like fun ahead! | Source

The following pictures will show more of what we got to see as we descended the Trail Ridge Road.

Views we saw while descending the Trail Ridge Road going back to Estes Park, Colorado.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Such beauty!Elk resting in the fieldsAnother type of flowerCar descending Trail Ridge RoadCloser to the bottom of Trail Ridge Road
Such beauty!
Such beauty! | Source
Elk resting in the fields
Elk resting in the fields | Source
Another type of flower
Another type of flower | Source
Source
Source
Car descending Trail Ridge Road
Car descending Trail Ridge Road | Source
Source
Closer to the bottom of Trail Ridge Road
Closer to the bottom of Trail Ridge Road | Source

Trail Ridge Road in Six Minutes

Lower part of the Trail Ridge Road

Stream of water in the Rocky Mountains
Stream of water in the Rocky Mountains | Source
Elk and deer roam loose near Estes Park in the Rockies.
Elk and deer roam loose near Estes Park in the Rockies. | Source

Hope you enjoyed this Rocky Mountain photography as taken on my mother's and my Colorado vacation the one day we spent enjoying the Upper Beaver Meadow and the amazing Trail Ridge Road.

If you did, please leave a comment below. Many more days of our Colorado vacation will be shared in other postings.

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

A markerTrail Ridge Road -
Trail Ridge Rd, Grand Lake, CO 80447, USA
[get directions]

Does this look like a day you would enjoy spending in the Rocky Mountain National Park?

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Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Map
Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking Map

You might find this handy if traveling in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

Please rate this article. Thank you!

5 out of 5 stars from 3 ratings of Trail Ridge Road

© 2011 Peggy Woods

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Comments are welcomed. 59 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Margaret,

Yes those upper elevations also affected us. Houston, Texas is not that much higher than sea level...probably 50 feet or thereabouts. My mother could not do much walking at those higher elevations. Nice that you got to spend quality time there!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Au fait,

You were fortunate to be able to live in such a gorgeous state and be able to enjoy sites such as this more than once. Thanks for the votes, 5 star rating, the pin and the share. :)


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

I loved this park - got to see it in 2008. My husband and I stayed in the area for a week, and really go to see the park. One thing I noticed was how much the elevation affected us. We had a great time hiking and exploring the park, however, and would love to go back. Great hub that really captures the beauty of this area. Voted up, interesting and beautiful.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

I've been through Rocky Mountain National Park a couple of times when I used to live in Western Colorado and people would come visit so they would have tourist guides. ;) Definitely a good place to visit, although much of Colorado is extremely scenic and beautiful and unusual to see. Spectacular photos, great videos, and tons of helpful info for anyone wanting to visit. Gave you another 5 stars, voted up and beautiful/useful, will share with followers and pin!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Deborah,

The Rocky Mountain National Park is surely wondrous. Nice that you have experienced it personally to know of its vastness and beauty. I would also like to go back there someday. :)) Thanks for your comment.


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