Boulder, Colorado is a pretty great town. Not only is it home to the University of Colorado and a really cool downtown (breakfast at Snooze: an a.m. Eatery is delicious), the town has some great hiking that starts right in town, not to mention Rocky Mountain National Park being a short drive away. Chautauqua Park has several great trails with panoramic views of the city and the mountains bordering the city. The trail leading up to the Flatirons (which, as you can see, are appropriately named) in particular has some rather stunning views. As you can see, the clouds on this day looked a little menacing but not wanting to miss out on any of the views, I pushed on with my hike as long as possible. By the time I got back to the trailhead, the rain was pouring down pretty good, but it was well worth it to get a little (or more accurately, a lot) wet to see the views.
This photo was taken in Rocky Mountain National Park along the trail which climbs up to the peak of Mount Ida. The trail is moderately challenging at almost 10 miles in length with about 2500 feet in elevation gain along a narrow, relatively rustic trail. There are panoramic views in almost every direction for the entire hike as the trail climbs above the tree line not far from the trailhead. This also means that there is no protection from storms, which often roll in during the afternoons in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is recommended that hikers not attempt the hike if there are dark clouds nearby since lightning strikes are not uncommon. Luckily, on the day we hiked the trail the only clouds in the sky were of the puffy, non-threatening variety. This photo was taken during our descent from the peak.
Denali National Park & Preserve
Denali National Park & Preserve is one of my favorite national parks. Located 4 hours north of Anchorage, Alaska, the park is a great place to visit after an Alaskan cruise or combined with a visit to the Kenai Peninsula (a couple hours south of Anchorage) on a land-based vacation. At over 6 million-acres the park is huge, though only a small percentage of the park is easily accessible. The single road which goes into the park is the 91-mile Denali Park Road. Private vehicles are only allowed on the first 15 miles of this mostly dirt road. To go further into the park, one must take one of the park shuttle buses. While some may consider this an inconvenience, once you’re in the park it is just you, the others on the bus, and and endless nature in every direction. This is a nice contrast to some of the national parks on the mainland United States that feature traffic jams resembling rush hour traffic, making it hard to enjoy the beautiful scenery. In addition to awe-inspiring vistas, the park provides a great opportunity to see animals like moose, caribou, and bears in their natural environment.
The High One
The word Denali means “the high one” in native Athabaskan, an appropriate name for a mountain with a height of 20,156 feet. Often hidden behind the clouds, only 30% of visitors to the park get to see the mountain for which the park is named. We were very lucky and had views of Denali all three days we visited. This photo was taken from one of the stops the shuttle buses make during their journey down Denali Park Road. The winding dirt road serves as a perfect leading line to guide the eyes towards the mountain and the smaller mountains on either side frame Denali nicely. With scenery like this, it’s hard to take a bad photo in Denali National Park.