Last week we decided to take a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado, and what a day it was. From our home in Colorado Springs to Estes Park is a 3hour drive and was well worth the drive. Rocky Mountain National Park is great for not only sightseeing, but hiking and camping as well. It’s a one time entry fee of $20 per vehicle and you can explore to your heart’s content, just be sure that you have on the right pair of shoes. Sneakers or hiking boots are preferred and Madison, who had received the Keen Kids UNEEK wore a pair. These shoes are also available in adults and can transition from land to water with ease.
Rocky Mountain National Park is 415 square miles of awesomeness. There are over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildlife, flora and fauna and don’t forget lakes and waterfalls. We decided to start our drive up Trail Ridge Road, which goes up 12,000 feet and which overlooks spectacular mountain views. There are pull-offs where you can park, get out your vehicle and take photos. If you’re afraid of heights, then you may not want to go to the top, but if you aren’t, I recommend taking the drive. The views are amazing! The day we visited, it was a rather cloudy day so we didn’t get the shots that we wanted and I’m thinking another trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park is in order. After making our way down from the mountain we decided to brave the hiking trails. We had seen the mountains, now we wanted to see a lake and if possible a waterfall. We decided to drive to Bear Lake and since Alberta Falls was only a mile away we managed to do both that day.
Bear Lake which is in the heart of the park, sits at an elevation of 9,450 feet, and rests beneath the sheer flanks of Hallett Peak and the Continental Divide. Bear Lake Road is open year round and depending on weather conditions may be temporarily closed. The road leading to Bear Lake is 10 miles long and is close to the Beavers Meadows Entrance station. We passed it since we were trying to go to the top, but went there on our way back down. There is a parking lot close to the lake, and you can either get there using your own vehicle or by using the provided Rocky Mountain Visitors Shuttle which seemed to operate every 30 minutes.
There are park guides located throughout the park and you can get a plethora of information from them. The lake we found out was formed during the ice age by a glacier and you’re able to do several trails easily from the lake. We decided on doing the hike to Alberta Falls, which was uneventful. While it was a mile from Bear Lake, it sure seemed so much further, maybe because we were all out of shape. It was, however an amazing workout. If you do get tired, there are rocks you can sit on for a break, which we absolutely did on our trek back. Don’t give up however, because the hike is so worth it once you make it to Alberta Falls.
The Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a variety of wildlife. While in the higher alpine areas you may be able to find yellow-bellied marmots and pikas, you may also see black bears, moose, snowshoe hares, coyotes, elk, cougars, beavers, mule deer and even bighorn sheep. While I wished to see some wildlife on our way, we only saw a chipmunk who was not camera shy at all, and who stayed to pose for everyone, even following us so we could get more shots. There were also a few wildflowers on our way, but they are scattered so don’t expect a field of lilies.
Alberta Falls was gorgeous and I’m happy that we decided to do it. However, I’m also sorry that we didn’t do a few more of the trails, but we can always do that another day. Alberta Falls is one of the more popular hiking destinations and the scenic 30-foot waterfall thunders down a small gorge on Glacier Creek. You can either stop to relax or you can continue from here if you’re more adventurous to Mills Lake or The Loch.
On our way back down, we really took in the various streams running through the Rocky Mountain National Park. Madison even decided that she wanted to cross using stepping stones instead of walking across the man-made bridge. The various streams and the sounds sure make it a relaxing way to unwind, that’s if you’re not too tired. If you are, take a load off and stretch your legs and even put your feet in the water. It’s pretty cold but feels oh so good.
When visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes like the Keen UNEEK. These shoes are made to support like sneakers but feel like sandals. They are lightweight and easy to put on and take off, with a hook and loop strap on the side, making it easy to adjust for the right fit. When submerged in water, they dry easily as Madison experienced which was awesome. They are great for a full day of hiking or even a full day on the beach. Wherever you wear these, you will get numerous questions and compliments because they are just that cool!
For more information on the Rocky Mountain National Park, visit the National Park Service.
For more information on Keen and their UNEEK footwear, visit Keen Footwear.