Sunday, October 5, 2014

Colorado trip report Sept, 2014

Colorado/Rocky Mountain national Park trip

Sept 6-Sept 12, 2014

Sept 6.   Our trip started off with a smooth Southwest flight from BWI, Maryland to Denver Colorado. We landed at the Denver airport a little early which was nice.  We had an easy time at the Enterprise Car Rental, the service was great and we had an awesome deal for the week’s car rental. And we were off on the start of our 7 night vacation in Colorado. We drove toward the cute town of Nederland in which we had a great lunch at the local Pioneer Inn. Hubby enjoyed the burger and I had the tacos.  It was a cute town and stop for a quick lunch.  After a scenic drive our first night was actually on the west side of the Rocky Mtn Nat’l Park, we had reservations at the Inn in Silver Creek. We were happy with this choice, we just wished there were more choices in the town of Granby for dinner and breakfast. We did enjoy a late day drive into the park. We saw a lot of elk along the park’s main road. Great sighting of a flock of White Pelican on the Granby Lake and a pretty sunset at the Granby Lake the first night..

Sculpture and Town Hall at Nederland, Colorado.. 

Sunset over Granby Lake

Sept 7. We are early risers and the only choice for an early breakfast at this time of the year was McDonald’s.  So we  I grinned and beared it, just so we could get an early start at the park. Coffee was good. This was our first full day touring the park. We stopped at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center and drove along the Trail Ridge Road as far as the Alpine Visitor Center. We did make stops along the way and took some walks.  Most of these walks were closer to the west side entrance. Our walks were at the Colorado River trail, Coyote Valley and the Holzwarth Historic site.  .  We had several awesome sightings of a female moose and her calf. Lots of elk, I was looking for new birds to add to my life list. On this day we took the hike to Adams Falls. After our hike to Adams Falls we headed to the Grand Lake Lodge and enjoyed their brunch. An excellent choice and we made this meal our dinner for the day.  Our second night stay we head closer to the park and moved to the Gateway Inn for our second night on the west side of the park. We were happy with our room at the Gateway Inn, I would highly recommend staying there. We ended the day we a view of the sunset at Grand Lake and to watch the rising of the almost full September Super Moon.

Sept 8. Hubby and I started off our morning with breakfast. We both had the scrambles at the Blue Water CafĂ© in Grand Lake. I do have to say the cook was a little heavy with the oregano on the breakfast potatoes. But, the eggs were yummy and the coffee delicious.  On this day we had to check out of our Gateway Inn room and we headed to the east side of the park for 4 nights. Our room there was at the Discovery Lodge in Estes Park.  Another day of driving on the Trail Ridge road looking for wildlife and taking some walks. Great sighting of a Dusky Grouse on the way to Bear Lake. A main stop of the day was at the Bear Lake trail and the later part of the day was hanging out at the Beaver Meadows area watching the elk.  It was quite the show with a huge bull Elk taking charge of his herd. Dinner was a great meal at Smokin Dave’s BBQ, great choice and a delicious dinner. I would highly recommend Smokin Dave’s.

Dusky Grouse seen along the road to Bear Lake..

 Trail Ridge Road overlook.

Sept 9.  Our first full day at Estes Park. A great breakfast at the Egg and I. We were pleased with the service at the Egg and I and the breakfast was always good. We ate there three mornings of our stay. I would highly recommend the Egg & I.  We took an early morning walk on the trail at Estes Lake and the Matthew’s Reeser Bird Sanctuary. We headed into the national park for a walk around the Cub Lake trail and to check out the elk around the Beaver Meadows. Always great Elk sightings there. Hubby wanted to do the walk near Bear Lake and went a little further on this day to the Alberta Falls even in a light rain. In the evening we always ended up back with the elk at the Beaver Meadows area. It seemed to be a favorite spot for everyone to watch the elk. Sometimes it was hard to find a place to park with all the cars that were there.  We had a so-so dinner at Nicky’s Steakhouse at Estes Park. It is a more expensive restaurant, so we expected more attentive service and good food. Our meals were Ok but they wanted $2 for slices of bread which I thought was petty. Most places would give you bread for free with your dinner. I actual prefer a steak dinner at home at the local Texas Roadhouse over our dinner at Nicky’s Steakhouse. 

Elk seen near the Beaver Meadows..

Sept 10.  After a good breakfast at the Egg & I we headed to the Estes Lake trail again. I was looking for new birds and hubby did not mind the view of the lake.  Then we head into the park once again and drove up the Alpine Visitor Center. Hubby took a brisk cold walk up to the top at the Tundra trail. I hung out at the Alpine Visitor Center, did some shopping at the gift store and had a warm drink. We slowing made our way back down stopping at all the overlooks. Beaver Meadows and elk viewing was once again our go to spot in the later part of the day. Dinner was a repeat of our favorite spot Smokin Daves’s BBQ. Again we enjoyed our meal, service and the food was awesome.

Tundra Communities Trail at the Alpine Visitor Center.

Sept 11. Another great meal at the Breakfast at the Egg & I. A great start to this day. We headed to the park and the trail to the Alberta Falls. A pretty hike in the sunshine this time to see this beautiful waterfalls. I would highly recommend this hike. We also did the loop trail around Bear Lake, we enjoyed this sunny day. We stopped at the Sprague Lake for a short walk too. During any walk or hike, I would be looking for new birds or any bird sighting would be nice. We had the afternoon free so we decided to take a drive along the Peak to Peak highway as far as Nederland passed the Lily Lake and the Little Chapel on the Rock.  On this day we had a pizza dinner close to our room.  And we enjoyed the Estes Park elk right in our Discovery Lodge’s parking lot, by their pond and on the golf course. We could easily see and hear the elk from our room’s balcony. 

 Alberta Falls

The loop trail was great around the Bear Lake.

Sept. 12  We woke up to snow on the ground. No snow in the streets which was good, I am nervous driving on snow covered roads. Breakfast was at a new place for us Claire’s in Estes Park. Hubby and I both enjoyed omelets and I had to have coffee of course. Claire’s is another Estes Park restaurant I would highly recommend. This was our last day near the park, we checked out and headed to our last night at a hotel near the Denver Airport. On the way back to Denver we visited the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. At the refuge, I was looking for birds and we saw the Buffalo or should I call them Bison. Either way they are cool animals. We also saw a lot of cute Prairie Dogs on the wildlife refuge. Dinner was the local Ruby Tuesday located near the Airport hotel. 

One last visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park..the Beaver Ponds in the snow.

 Buffalo at the Rocky Mountain NWR

Prairie Dog seen at the Rocky Mountain NWR.

To end my trip report, I have to say hubby and I enjoyed our trip to Colorado.. The mountain scenery is gorgeous and I loved all the wildlife sightings.. I do wish I could have seen more "new" birds.. If you are ever in the area I highly suggest visiting all the places mentioned in my post..

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