We were picking up N in Denver on a Monday, so Aaron and I would need to take Monday and Tuesday off of work. Plus, we’d have to make it out to Denver to pick her up… so naturally, we decided to come to Colorado a couple of days early. It took a bit of extra planning, but it was an awesome pre-hosting family trip.
We decided to spend our time at Rocky Mountain National Park. Aaron and I really enjoy the national parks and we’d only been to RMNP once before, a day trip with friends. It was the perfect spot for our little trip– a great mix of amenities and the great outdoors.
We gave the kids a gift– a shockproof, waterproof camera. They’ve been begging for a real camera for awhile now. I need to share some of their photos with you, as there are gems!
We went to one of the ranger programs on Bighorn Sheep. A herd of elk walked by.
We saw some Bighorn Sheep at a distance.
The weather was perfect for hiking, warm enough to not need layers, but cool enough that we didn’t get hot. But, it rained on our first day. So in the afternoon, we set up our camp site. The campground office had two hummingbird feeders and they were covered with these little guys. I’ve never seen so many before!
We did more hiking once the rain let up. We heard Bear Lake was a must, but difficult to get parking at. However, after the rain, we had no trouble. We realized when we pulled into the Bear Lake trailhead parking lot that we’d done a hike starting at Bear Lake with our friends 7.5 years ago. Hiking with 3 young kids is pretty different than hiking with two twenty-something friends.
One of the rangers tipped us off that we could save ourselves a bit of hiking and elevation gain by hiking to a different trailhead than the one we’d started at and taking the bus. That was a hit.
More hiking! We did about 5-6 miles each day.
We saw this guy right along the side of the road, having his dinner.
And we went back to our campsite and had our own dinner, over a fire, of course.
That night was cloudy and there were thunderstorms in the distance. But, I took this shot anyways and it’s a favorite of mine. Estes Park, nestled below the mountains, and layers of clouds and stars.
Day 2, we drove on Trail Ridge Road, over to the West side of the park. Reed tried out hiking poles for the first time. And we played in some snow.
An adult woman next to the snow for scale.
I had enjoyed the east side of the park, but I quickly fell in love with the west side, when a photographer pointed out a mama and her baby MOOSE to us, hiding behind some trees. I ended up seeing 7 moose total on this side of the park.
We did the short hike out to Holzwarth Ranch. Totally worth it for a fun look into the past.
Not wanting to rush back to our campsite, we decided to grab dinner in the nearest town. We’d found Estes Park to be packed with people the previous day. Nearly impossible to even find a parking space. Grand Lake was the opposite– fun and touristy with live music, but had a much more relaxing vibe. Oh, and there was a rainbow.
The drive back across the park was gorgeous as the sun set behind us.
And we stopped for some quick star-gazing. I was hoping the kids might be up for it, but they had all crashed by this point.
Back to the campsite and to bed.
Day 3 was the much awaited day of N’s arrival!!! We had to drive down to Denver. We had booked a yurt for that night, which turned out to be a bit further out of drive from Denver than expected. But, otherwise, it was a pretty awesome spot. The yurt had heating/air-conditioning, beds, a table inside and a table outside, a small playhouse close-by, and the bathrooms were a short distance with no roads to cross. The closest thing to glamping we’ve ever done and I would not hesitate to do it again. It has the camping feel, but a lot less work!
N’s flight ended up getting several hours delayed, so we just hung out. I gave the kids these toys I had made them.
Our trip was awesome. I adore Colorado and after a couple of days in the cool, dry mountain air, surrounded by gorgeous views, I was pretty bummed to come home. Until next time!
If you’d like to see more nature photos, take a look at my photography Facebook page.