Morning at Bear Lake

This photo was taken at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park has gotten extremely popular in recent years, with a 42% increase in visitors in the last 6 years. While it is great that so many people are out enjoying the park, it means that the park gets busy. Very busy. Parking lots in the park being completely full busy. We avoided this issue by started our hikes early every morning, before the crowds of people arrived. On this morning, we arrived at Bear Lake on the first shuttle, then did the 10 mile hike to Fern Lake, before taking the shuttle back. The park is popular for good reason, the views along this hike, and basically every other hike we did, were amazing.

Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

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.

Waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning national park. The highlight, of course, is the mountain views, as the name suggests. The park also has its fair share of waterfalls within its boundaries, and while none of them match the awe inspiring views of the many panoramic vistas the park is known for, several waterfalls within the park are either easily accessible or along popular trails. This photo was taken during a hike in the Wild Basin Area, a popular hiking area which often runs out of parking spaces by late morning. We arrived in the late afternoon after a strong rainstorm had passed through, so we had no problem finding a place to park as the pouring rain had scared away a fair number of hikers. A quick side note: good rain gear in invaluable in places like Alaska and Colorado with unpredictable weather, with the proper gear a hike in the rain is no problem, without it the hike can get miserable pretty quickly. We hiked as far as Ouzel Falls before turning back and along the way I took a picture of this waterfall that I quite like.

Waterfall 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

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.