Friday, October 10, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park

We cannot get enough of Rocky Mountain National Park! In September/October we visited the park three times each staying someplace differently.

Most recently, the first weekend in October, we stayed in a friends family cabin on the entrance road into the park. We went with two other families that have similar aged kiddos. Lets be clear, it was crazy. Three two years old's and three infants in any once place is always nuts, but boy did we have fun! 
Petting Zoo at Elk Fest 

A few highlights from this family friendly trip included Elk Fest 2014, a little festival in downtown Estes Park. (Side-note, Estes gets crowded.) The festival was super cute but worthy of "Elk Fest '14" jokes all weekend. The state had a huge display of pelts for the kids to touch and lots of scat to look at. A small petting zoo was the highlight for our little guy. He got to hold a chick and thought that was pretty awesome. 

We hit pretty much every visitors center in the park. The kids loved running around and almost all of them had stuff for the kids to touch. (If your looking for the NPS passport stamps, each visitors center and the Discovery Center have a unique stamp.) 

Adams Fall 
We drove up and over the continental divide on Trail Ridge Road, which opened briefly on Sunday, after being completely snow covered earlier in the week. The boys played in the snow at the top of the road. There is a small shop up here too, so a few of us stocked up on coffee.  It was a beautiful drive and we even got to see a moose! We stopped at Beaver Lake for a picnic lunch. It has a great little area for the kids to explore when they were done with the picnic. 

We drove into the town Grand Lake for a brief hike to Adams Fall. Its a well established trail and if
you continue up the hill from the falls there is a inlet of the river where the kids enjoyed throwing rocks and climbing on some downed trees. After the hike, we found an open ice cream shop (there are plenty in town but most are closed for the season) and took our ice cream to the park to run out the sugar before the two hour drive home. 
The four of us slept in this little tent. 

The weekend prior we had Day Out with Thomas in Golden, Co and decided to head up to Rocky Mountain National Park to try camping with the kids. We met some other friends who have an almost one year old. There is safety in numbers right? I won't bore you with the details of camping with a two year old or an infant, but we survived. What camping gave us that we didn't have before was the ability to be in the park at dusk and dawn for the bugling elk. 

One word. Incredible! We were able to hear the elk beguiling all night and into the morning. We could hear the antlers hit each other as the males fought for the females. Our two year old had lots of questions and by the end of the weekend could frequently be heard saying "What they doing? Oh. Those boys say 'come here ladies.' Then ladies say 'no thank you.'" We may have had him repeat that for everyone who would listen because it was so funny.

Elk Bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park  

After a beautiful morning of elk watching and breakfast pancakes the kids completely melted down. Like completely. We decided to drive home via the Peak to Peak highway and got a chance to see the leaves changing. H was awake most of the trip, until we stopped for lunch... of course. 

Two weekends before the camping trip we took advantage of the YMCA Estes Park military weekend deal and headed up there for a long weekend. The YMCA abuts the park. It has a full schedule of fun activities including guided hikes into the national park. We hiked into the park with Susan who pointed out everything from bear scat and claw marks in the trees, to elk carcass. 

We did give Susan quite a scare when our truck loving two year old yelled out "bobcat." Susan jumped and turned to find a yellow construction bobcat positioned to move flooding dirt from the road. Yep. That's our kid. 

Even with so many trips to the area we are already planning our next one. 

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