Three years later, we finally made our second visit to Colorado. We spent the first 5 days in Rocky Mountain National Park and the remaining days in Westminster, about 20 minutes away from Denver, to attend a self-paid conference.
Day 1 – We began our day at 4:30 AM, heading to the airport only to find out we had 4 hours of flight delay. Our plane was stuck in North Dakota due to the bad storm. Upon arrival, we skipped our initial plan to have lunch in Boulder. We took a longer and more scenic route by driving along Peak to Peak Highway to Estes Park. We stopped by Lily Lake, located on the east side of the national park, before heading to our vacation home.
Day 2 – We spent the whole day hiking on the east side of the park. It was actually a recommendation from the national park to allow our bodies to adjust to the high elevation. Upon entering the park, we saw several bighorn sheep at Sheep Lake. We spent half a day hiking from Nymph Lake, to Dream Lake and to Emerald Lake. It was very tiring hiking due to the thin air and the fact that we were out of shape. The trail to Emerald Lake was covered with packed snow. In the afternoon, we spent our time hiking at Bear Lake and Sprague Lake. After dinner, we drove around the park in the evening to watch wildlife.
Day 3 – We drove along Trail Ridge Road to the west side of the park. In the morning, we hiked along Tundra Communities Trail and managed to spot several bighorn sheep at the trailhead. In the afternoon, we hiked along the beautiful dandelion-filled Coyote Valley Trail, located in Kawuneeche Valley. We had a surprising close encounter with a mama moose and baby moose at Bowen/Baker Trailhead.
Day 4 – We spent our morning horseback riding in Moraine Park for 3.5 hours. It was definitely an unforgettable experience riding horses in the national park, not to mention, it was our first time riding horses. We visited the touristy Estes Park in the afternoon before heading home early to rest. In the evening, we drove to the park and stayed there until 10 PM, hoping to capture the Milky Way without any light pollution. However, it was too cloudy to capture any epic shots.
Day 5 – After checking out from the vacation home, we took a longer drive back to Westminster by exiting from the west side of the national park. From there, we drove off the beaten path to hike up to St Mary’s Glacier in Idaho Springs.
Day 6 – We spent the entire day at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It turned out to be a great visit. The “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” special exhibit, Gems and Minerals exhibit, and wildlife exhibit were particularly interesting.
Day 7, 8 and 9 – A long and very tiring conference marathon.
Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely one of the most scenic national parks we have ever visited with abundance of wildlife. Although we did have our initial concerns with the high elevation, we did not experience any altitude sickness. We might plan our third visit to Colorado soon… perhaps, the southwest side next time.