Sunny Chautauqua Park

Chautauqua Park is a popular park in Boulder, CO. This photo was taken just after sunrise as the sun bathed down on the park while the park was still relatively quiet. The park has a ton of great hiking trails and every morning of my short time in Boulder, I was out on the trails bright and early, enjoying the natural beauty nestled right along the edge of the city.

Empty hiking trail soaked in early morning sun

Alluvial Fan

Alluvial Fan, in Rocky Mountain National Park, was created in 1982 when the water of Lawn Lake burst through the earthen Lawn Lake Dam. Millions upon millions of gallons of water rushed down towards the valley below, bringing trees and large boulders along for the ride. The large boulders within this waterfall are just a small sampling of the massive amount of boulders strewn about Alluvial Fan. The water which brought these boulders here on that July day in 1982 was so massive in volume and fast flowing that it left the nearby town of Estes Park flooded under six feet of water. Today the site is a popular attraction for visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park, easily accessible and a reminder of the powerful capabilities of nature.

Waterfall of Alluvial Fan in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The importance of a beautiful sky

A great sky can make or break a photo. Especially when it comes to sunrises or sunsets, the clouds need to be just right. There can’t be too many clouds, there can’t be too few, and they need to be high clouds, not low clouds. During the day, a solid blue sky can be nice but a handful of big white, puffy clouds can give a photo some pop.

This photo is of Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is beautiful with mountain peaks in the background, snow in the valley between the peaks even in August, and a mix of trees and boulders surrounding the lake. The hike to get to Emerald Lake from the Bear Lake trailhead is moderately challenging and the trail passes a couple other nice lakes along the way. On the day we hiked to Emerald Lake, unfortunately, the sky was filled with clouds the entire day. The weather was otherwise nice and the hike was wonderful. This photo is just missing a beautiful sky to take it from being a nice photo to a really good photo, but it’s still one of my favorite photos from one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Bathroom with a view

Rocky Mountain National Park is full of great hikes. As you might expect from a park with the word “mountain” in the name, many of the trails include pretty significant elevation gain. The hike up to Chasm Lake is one such hike. The trail is also one of the few in the park with a “bathroom” along the trail. While the “bathroom” may be pretty rustic, I doubt there are many bathrooms in the country with such an amazing view.

A "bathroom" along the trail up to Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Cloudy day at the Flatirons

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.

View of one of the flatirons while hiking in Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado

Kayak in the sky

Normally when we go kayaking, we do it in the water. But when you see a kayak high up in the sky, how can you say no? This photo was taken at Castle Rock just outside Denver. They have an adventure course with American Ninja Warrior style obstacles, some which are quite challenging and some are which are more kid friendly. It was great fun, both for kids and adults.

Sitting in a kayak high in the sky at Castle Rock in Colorado

Stunning Views from the Mount Ida Trail

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.