Saturday, January 8, 2011

A 'Plug' for Colorado (like it needs one?!)

Happy 2011.... Hard to believe it's here already?

While it's still early in the year and my gardening mojo currently lies dormant - I wanted to say 'Thanks' to the state of Colorado!  Also 'honorable mentions' to Iowa and Nebraska - for keeping treacherous weather to a minimum.  The town of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) really rolled out the red carpet (or "green", as it may be).  As I mentioned in an earlier post - we spent a 'Griswold' family Christmas up in RMNP.  It - was - stellar!

View from the front porch!
I'm not going to go into infinitesimal detail, but will let the photos take you there.  There are many opportunities to stay in cabins or vacation homes throughout Colorado (as I'm sure there are everywhere), but Rocky Mountain National Park has some of the best 'uneffected' views in the state.  Estes Park sits in a basin, with RMNP as it's back-drop ... just a little Divine design!

RMNP - viewed from Estes Park, CO
Downtown Estes Park reminds me of the 'gingerbread' look of an Alpine village.  Lots of quaint shops and restaurants (Ed's Cantina serves a wicked margarita - which is notable, among others!) line the main drag, "Elkhorn Avenue".  Hugging the town is the Big Thompson river... it's river walk enhances the ambiance of a mountain town.

Big Thompson river - winding it's way through downtown Estes Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is most popular in the warm-weather months, but I am partial to visiting in the winter.  The park is over 265,000 acres (+1,000 km2), with Long's Peak being the 'big daddy' of the mountains - and recognizable by a notch on the south edge (looks like a short 'opposable thumb' on a mitten to me?!!).

Long's Peak (+14,000 ft) - the "Big Daddy" up in RMNP
RMNP also gives you a glimpse at the force of nature and it's impact.  There is an alluvial fan that carved itself out of a ravine in Horseshoe Park, when a man-made dam further up the mountain crumbled in the summer of 1982.  Almost 30 years later - the impact can still be seen:

Double-click on the photo to see the details -
boulders and grown trees are strewn like Lincoln Logs
And yet, in spite of ourselves - nature renews itself....

Spruce sapling - nestled in the shadow of the Horseshoe Park Alluvial Fan
As you can imagine, when you have that many acres of sanctuary - it is filled with wildlife that wanders around at will.  (Another reason I like winter in the park --- bears hibernate!)  There is the "George Clooney" of RMNP -- the Elk.  Herds wander in the park and even into downtown Estes.  One time I had a very "Northern Exposure" moment, when we saw an elk walking right down the sidewalk!  (...and I swear, I had had only one margarita ... pinky swear!)

It paints an image, doesn't it?!!
The elk literally stop traffic when they wander.... like these two "dudes" herding about 100 elk "babes" when we drove through (some guys get all the girls).  Unlike a bunch of 'amature' rubber-neckers - that try to walk up close to the wildlife - I took full advantage of the 300mm zoom lens on my camera.  (Just taking my 'stalkerazzi' photos!!)

The "Brad Pitt" and "George Clooney" of RMNP
We took the scenic drive through RMNP on a number of days, and as I forewarned - I went camera happy with my new 4GB memory card!  I won't post all 498 photos - I promise.  (I may periodically post a few - during the dormant months of January and February... my head won't quite be in 'garden mode' yet.)  But here are just a couple of additional shots that captured the 'sights'.

An Aspen grove - leaving the Horseshoe Park Alluvial Fan in RMNP
To close, a shot... at the end of the day, up on Trail Ridge Road (at least the part of the trail open during the winter months):

 Happy Gardening... or at least Happy Garden planning!


  1. I really loved all your images. Spectacular landscape in the Rockies. I thought your commentary funny too, GC and BP Elk.

  2. Looks like home to me!

    We went to Estes Park for our anniversary in the summertime.

    I think we take it for granted since we live only 1 1/2 hours away.

    Great pictures!

  3. You've made me anxious for our ski trip coming up soon in Steamboat! Beautiful shots - so glad you had a beautiful Christmas there in Colorado!

  4. Great photos! it looks like an amazing place to be
    Thank you very much for the comments on my blog

  5. GWGT - Thanks so much! Digital photography and a zoom lens let me run a bit 'wild'.

    Rosey - you were on my mind as we were heading up to EP; I envy you! I have family in Colorado Springs so we take every opportunity to come visit your beautiful state!!

    Whimsical - Have a fabulous trip skiing! (Will look fwd to the pictures you post on your blog.) :)

  6. I really love your post. I really miss it to walk on the snow or snowshoeing ;) Just have the experience once last year in Utah. Great post and I really love it.

  7. beautiful place. I can see why you like to visit there in the winter time.

  8. Hi Shyrlene, what a fantastic place to take a holiday, and so magical in the snow. I love the Elks - tehn again, I love "Northern Exposure" too!

  9. I think you should work out a deal with the state of Colorado for them to use your photos for their tourism. Nicely done.

  10. Orchid de dangau - thank you for your visit to my blog! Your comments are very kind.

    Sunny - so glad you stopped by! Colorado certainly has lots of raw materials you could use! I didn't include the photos I took on the drive up the mountain pass... you would really enjoy the view (all stone!!)

    Plantaliscious - if you ever get over to the states, Colorado is definitely a place I'd recommend.. it's amazing! ("Northern Exposure" - too fun!) :D

    TufaGirl - I'm blushing! Thanks!!!

  11. Brad Pitta and George Clooney are a little hairier in person.

  12. Beautiful tour! I love the 'Brad Pitt and George Clooney' photo. They are proud stars, for sure! I think all your pictures will keep your memories of a great vacation fresh for a long time.

  13. I ahve family that loves there and they are always bugging me to come out for a visit- thanks for the inspiration!


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