Rocky Mountain National Park was our first stop on our spring break trip to Colorado! We stayed in Estes Park, which is a cute little town about fifteen minutes from the national park. As we were driving in, I couldn’t believe the mountains in the background and the mountains that we were driving through. Estes boasted its own amazing views too, and the first night after driving in we walked around Estes Lake.
The next morning we awoke bright and early and drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park. Even as you drove up, the views were incredible. The road into the park, called Trail Ridge Road, wound all the way up into the mountains. Every turn gave a different view of the rockies and there were turns I couldn’t help but just gasp because it was unlike anything I had ever seen! There were plenty of places to pull off the road to take pictures or to hike, so I took advantage of those! I felt like every turn I was telling Andrew to pull over so I could get out of the car!
My favorite view of the park was right near the beginning. The road took almost a u-turn so in almost every direction, all you could see were mountains. We would just stand there in silence, taking it all in. Words were useless.
Near the beginning, there were only patches of snow and I probably would have been okay with just a jacket. But as the road took us higher and higher up, the temperatures dropped and everything was covered in at least a foot of snow! The roads were clear for the most part except for the last little stretch. It looked like we were driving at a 45 degree angle and the road was pretty icy. My little car handles snow okay on flat roads in Missouri, but I definitely thought we were going to fly straight off the mountain! I commend Andrew on his excellent driving.
Trail Ridge Road was close about eight miles in since this is still their winter and the roads weren’t safe, so we found a hiking trail that led to Sprague Lake. It was about a three mile loop, so we thought that would be easy enough to manage. However the trail was completely covered in snow and we were both only wearing sneakers. The snow was pretty packed down by other hikers, but there were some slippery spots and spots that led off the trail where we stepped knee-deep into snow. The lake was a bit disappointing when we arrived because it was completely covered in snow, so there really wasn’t much to see. But we got some good exercise and were beat once we got back to our car. Hiking three miles is way more exhausting than just walking it!
After hiking, we drove down some different roads we hadn’t seen before. It ended up being an absolutely perfect day! It was very cold, but we were bundled up and the sky’s were pretty clear.
We didn’t stay too much longer on our first day because we were pretty tired. As we were driving back, we stopped in the downtown Estes Park, which was just a collection of cute little shops and eateries. We couldn’t help but stop into one of the candy stores either. They had quite a variety of different ice cream flavors, but one in particular caught my eye: Chip Killa Dough Nilla. You just can’t pass homemade ice cream with a name like that up. So I got two scoops and Andrew picked out some black raspberry. So good.
On our way back to the hotel from ice cream, my car gave a shuddering and my check engine light dinged on. We were both silent for a moment before Andrew said something along the lines of, “Well, that’s not good.” We managed to get it back to the hotel and Andrew checked the fluids. My oil was low, so we walked to the nearest gas station a mile and a half away. After a long day of trekking through the park, it was a long walk! We topped off the oil, but couldn’t do anything else for the night so we figured we would deal with it in the morning.
I was a bit bummed about my car. I was nervous that it would take a long time to fix or that we might lose time doing all of the other things that we had planned. I was also really nervous that it would be expensive – and an engine problem sounded expensive. However, I couldn’t do anything about it until tomorrow. So walking back into our room and seeing this view out the window made me feel a bit better.