Monday, May 21, 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park

This weekend we took Jeff's mom up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We've been up to Estes many times, but I've only been to RMNP once before, many years ago, and Jeff had never been.

It was really nice weather, high 60s and partly cloudy, no wind, no real rain - just really nice weather. We didn't get to stay as long as we would have liked due to dinner plans at my mom's house, but it was still really awesome.

There are so many animals to gawk at and the scenery is breath taking!

Before we were officially in either park we got to see a small herd of bighorn sheep! I lived in Las Vegas for almost 18 years where you're supposed to be able to see bighorn sheep in all the surrounding mountains, but despite the many camping trips I did while I lived there I'd never seen a single one. Jeff lived there for 28 years and never saw one either, despite all the off-road dirtbike riding he did over the years. Needless to say, we were so excited to see them up close and personal!

Once we finished walking through the cutesy little shops on the Estes Park main street, and after eating lunch we started toward RMNP's entrance. Just outside of the entrance we spotted some elk chillin' on the hillside. Seeing these big animals, with their big antlers, in the wild is a bit amazing to me.

There was another person snapping pics of the elk who had just left RMNP who gave us the heads up that there was a large nest in a tree on the side of the road about a half of a mile inside the park that had a Great Horned Owl and two chicks in it. I've only ever seen a Great Horned Owl in a zoo before so I was really hopeful that we'd find it so I could snap a few pictures. True to his word (and the line of cars parked along the side of the road), there was a large nest with an amazing owl sitting in it. I only saw the very top of one of the chick's heads, but the momma-owl was amazing enough!

Her natural camouflage is unbelievable!! If it weren't for the crowd of other people taking her picture I never would have spotted her!

There were so so so many elk through out the park, but most (that I saw) were lone rangers or just inside the tree line so I couldn't really get good pictures of them. There were a few groups grazing down in the prairies though, so I got to marvel at them and bug Jeff over and over to stop and let me get out to take pictures.

Like I said, the weather and scenery were too die for. I wish I could have bottled it up to spend more time in whenever I wanted. Alas, I don't know how to do that and haven't figured out how to wiggle my nose like Sabrina to poof myself wherever I want, whenever I want so I took a couple pics to try to capture it, but it fell short. The pictures are beautiful, but they don't do what I saw justice.

If you've got National Parks around you I highly recommend checking them out. If you don't have any near you, I recommend making a point to visit some. And if you're ever coming through Colorado I highly suggest making a trip through RMNP. It honestly looks and feels like a glimpse into the past. Back before people bulldozed all the majestic trees, concreted over river beds and pushed the animals from their habitats. It's mind blowing to me to look around the park and know that it's looked the same since... forever! I'm so glad that I got to see a small part of the park on Sunday... it'll hold me over until we have time to go again. Next time we'll head up there sooner and stay later. I can't wait!