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Trail Ridge Road Photos in Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountains Vacation
Many pictures of Rocky Mountain photography will be shared in this post 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. Hopefully the pictures in this post will show what awaits visitors to this part of the world.
Upper Beaver Meadow
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 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.
Scenery in Upper Beaver Meadow with Beaver DamsClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
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.
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 ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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 RoadClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 some 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 CenterClick thumbnail to view full-size
Some of the plants that grow on the tundra include the following according to some literature that we acquired.
- Dwarf and alpine clovers
- Sky pilot
- King's crown
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.
More snow was to be seen and enjoyed at these high elevations of the Trail Ridge Road even in July.
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
Hope you enjoyed this 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
Does this look like a day you would enjoy spending in the Rocky Mountain National Park?
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. This Trail Ridge Road is amazing!
© 2011 Peggy Woods