Outside Adventures!, tierneytravels

Rocky Mountain National Park

Well while we are waiting for Wendy’s next installment in her guest blog series (see previous post Quarantine Quilt Project: Life in the Time of Coronavirus, Part I (Guest Blog Post)), I guess I could start to catch you up on my adventures.

First Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park

A couple of weeks ago my partner John took me to Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time. We had to make a reservation to visit the national park (new thing in the time of the pandemic). In April 2020 I did a series of posts on the beauty of Colorado seen in several hiking adventures (And on the 8th Day…Part I, And on the 8th Day…Part II, and And on the 8th Day…Part III) and our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park could easily fit into that series of posts. I moved to Colorado in April 2019 and the mountainous beauty continues to blow me away!

We did a mixture of hiking and driving through the national park, We got up to 12,000+ feet above sea level (3657.6+ MSL). Good thing I already live at 6000 feet above sea level (1828.8 MSL) and I was able to acclimate to the altitude.

On our way to 12,000+ feet, we stopped along the way:

2020-07-02_15-21-27_630Near the top of the drive from the car’s altimeter:

2020-07-02_16-28-51_595I did get a little lightheaded when we were hiking near other people at 12,000 feet and I was wearing a cloth mask I made. We let the crowds get ahead of us so we could take a break from our masks and just use social distancing (we stayed at least 50 feet behind another hiking group).

Here are a smattering of photos from our drive through the national park and our various hikes. The photos do not begin to capture the beauty of the park as you can imagine.

2020-07-02_13-48-32_8782020-07-02_14-05-31_9232020-07-02_14-26-51_4552020-07-02_14-52-06_1112020-07-02_15-46-47_4682020-07-02_15-54-27_1962020-07-02_15-57-54_0802020-07-02_17-31-26_694IMG_20200702_150830IMG_20200702_1528052020-07-02_14-06-26_618And of course while taking my standard zillion photographs, once again I attempted to channel my inner Ansel Adams and took black & white photos. Here are a couple of my favorites:


The Elk “Sherpa”

We had a curious experience while at Rocky Mountain National Park. While hiking in the higher elevations of the park, we came across a young elk. The elk ended up going on the hike with us, grazing along the way. We joked that the elk was our “Sherpa” leading us up the mountain.

2020-07-02_16-39-51_2622020-07-02_16-50-56_8292020-07-02_16-53-44_842It must have hiked with us for about a mile to a rock formation at the end of the trail. When we stopped, it stopped and waited for us.

After we explored the rock formation and turned around to walk back toward our car, the elk joined us for most of the walk back. Then suddenly it turned to look at us, as if saying goodbye, and walked off to join its herd in the distance.

2020-07-02_17-02-53_866The whole experience with the young elk felt sort of magical and mystical to us. Not to get all “woo-woo” on you but my partner and I both lost our life partners of many years (I am a widow, he is a widower) about 3 months apart. It sort of felt like the spirit of a love one was visiting upon the elk to walk with us.

I did a little googling on elk sightings as a message:

The elk represents dignity, power, inner strength, and passion. If you experience an elk sighting, it’s a message to stay steady on your current course. (californiapsychics.com)

I know super “woo-woo” but it just felt like a special moment when the elk went walking with us…

Fun at Lower Altitudes

In addition to visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, we also visited Fort Collins, Colorado and Estes Park, Colorado which is at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park.

We love craft beer and stopped at several breweries:

2020-07-01_17-56-45_220IMG_20200701_1816222020-07-02_12-18-54_048If you’ve ever seen the movie The Shining which was filmed at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, you will get the humor in the ale by Estes Park Brewery shown above!

Estes Park has a wonderful downtown shopping (tourist trap, ha!) area with endless delightful shops filled with things you do not need. While wandering about we stopped in a very naughty confectionary that specialized in gourmet caramel apples.

2020-07-02_11-29-16_4842020-07-02_11-29-28_8312020-07-02_11-30-25_193I am proud to say we left with only one caramel apple in hand (and it was incredibly delicious and we wished we’d bought two!)

Here is a hysterical (and scary t-shirt) we saw in a shop window (bears a prevalent at Rocky Mountain National Park):

IMG_20200702_115830In case the image above is too unclear – first the child is attempting to feed the bear and then the child is inside the bear!

And while wandering about Fort Collins and Estes Park, I took more black & white photos:

2020-07-01_19-29-31_6612020-07-01_19-30-20_581Thanks for making it through all these photos!


But wait…more photos! I am sure there are way too many photos in this post but I am going to add a couple more.

In late March, early in the pandemic, when we were just beginning to go stir crazy, we attempted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a stay at home order in place but you were allowed to go on outside hikes. Not sure what we were thinking but we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park without first checking if it was even open.

We discovered it was closed to the public but we ended up visiting the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, where the first The Shining movie was filmed. They were allowing people to walk around the outside of the hotel and to come into the lobby as long as they maintained social distancing. Here are a couple photos from our visit to this amazing historic hotel (which include an autographed photo of younger Stephen King, author of The Shining).

2020-03-22_11-54-56_8632020-03-22_12-14-04_2882020-03-22_12-10-48_119MVIMG_20200322_1211542020-03-22_12-12-10_489IMG_20200322_120015Oh and in case you are wondering (and you remember the movie), no they do not have a labyrinth like the famous one in the film.

Sneaking in one more B&W photo to close out this post!


47 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain National Park”

  1. Thank you so much for this post. The Rockies look wonderful and sadly I don’t think we will be able to visit the States again, so this trip has come off my bucket list. I love the experience with the elk- it seems magical to me not spooky. I also loved the tour of the hotel, now that film is spooky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry you won’t be able to visit Rocky Mountain national Park. Is it because we have so many cooties here in the US? I hope the pandemic stuff gets under control and people can travel again 🙂 thanks for reading my post


  2. Wow, looks amazing, love the Elk experience. Thank you for sharing, and keep on posting lots of photos, it makes us feel like we´re there as well. 🙂

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  3. Wow! Just wow!!! That is some gorgeous scenery. I really need to get out for a hike (and a beer!), but just don’t want to risk having to encounter other humans on the trail, or anywhere, really…maybe I could hire your elk sherpa to change them off :))

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    1. Yes it’s really pretty here! Hiking and beer is a nice combo especially if you have your beer after your hike ha ha ha ha. Oh I enjoyed your most recent book owl 🦉 podcast very nice!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your adventures and your lovely photos 🙂 Love the story of the elk hiking along with you – what a magical experience! And how need to see the Stanley Hotel as well!

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  5. i am stuck inside, back in lockdown, in a gloomy Winter, so I LOVED seeing the blue skies and far vistas of the Rockies. What a wonderful part of the world, and I really loved walking along with you. And there can ver be too many photos!

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  6. Never too many photos when the scenery is as gorgeous as that! And regarding your Sherpa friend, I wonder if he was thinking “oh, bipeds- there may be snacks to be had if I tag along!” 😉

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  7. You sure get out and about a lot!! Such beautiful photos and hiking/beer are good antidotes to the depressing news. FB is depressing me, too! Loved the elk hiking with you and its symbolism. Heading to your old stomping grounds in a couple weeks in an RV–wish you were still there!!

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  8. Beautiful photos of Colorado! I’ve been to Estes Park and Vail in summer and in winter, and love it so much. So glad you are getting to enjoy all this. I fully understand about how the news can get us down–so let’s not watch. Being out in nature is healing. The elk experience was wonderful–really magical. More pictures!

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  9. My husband and I took a driving trip with another couple to Estes Park (about 60 years ago). Then a good friend owned a condo in downtown Vail and we made two summer trips there, one taking his elderly mother for her “trip of a lifetime” she called it. My tennis team went skiing three Januarys in the 1980s–was there when the Challenger blew up. So my brain is filled with memories of Colorado, some beautiful and happy, some painful. I still would love to see it again someday; meanwhile, I can enjoy your pictures and stories!

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  10. I have read that “being out in nature” is supposed to help with unhappy feelings caused by the COVID situation, so I hope it helped. We live way up in the woods and are very thankful to be here, especially at this time.

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  11. I loved reading your story and have to tell you honestly that when you mentioned the elk I felt it was your husband’s spirit that was there with you ( BEFORE you mentioned anything about it!). I’m not usually one to think those kinds of things! Cue Twilight Zone music ;). Thanks for sharing the amazing pics. We used to live in Montana and sure miss visiting those amazing National Parks in the West.xx

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    1. Woo-woo! That is very cool and thanks for your comments and thoughts. Yes I got that feeling while the elk joined us and I read a book a couple months ago (forgot the name) of how loved ones that have passed can revisit in wild animals. 🙂

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