Day 2- Rocky Mountain National Park

 If you missed the post about Day 1 with details about our flight, the RV and where we stayed in Estes Park, check it out HERE.

Day 2 we got up early and headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is piloting a new system of timed entry tickets to mitigate the crowding. Though it's a pilot program, I don't believe it's going to go away as the national parks are all seeing record crowds. There are two corridors in the park- Bear Lake and then the rest of the park. If you enter before 9 am or after 3 pm you can enter the main part of the park without a timed ticket. But to enter the Bear Lake area you must arrive before 5 am or after 6 pm if you do not have a ticket.

We didn't realize that this system was in place until about a month before out trip, so when we went to get tickets, the only time frame was from 5-7 am. We got our tickets and planned to enter as close to 7 as possible! :) 

We got to the park at about 6:55 am and entered the Bear Lake corridor with our tickets. 

Our first adventure was a hike around Bear Lake, which was still patially frozen and most of our hike was in the snow! We were very thankful to have our trekking poles for help walking on the slippery snow and ice. We each had one pole and they definitely came in handy! It was so beautiful. After every bend, I couldn't get over the beauty of the mountains, the snow and the water. 

After the Bear Lake hike, we hiked up to Alberta Falls. Less snow in this area of the park, but the falls were amazing! They are super powerfull right now because of the snow-melt. 

We hiked back down from the falls and headed to Sprague Lake. This was an easy path around the lake, but gave us a very different view from the frozen lakes up by Bear Lake. 

(This was also the only time on the trip that I got Noah to make the video!)

After that we headed up Trail Ridge Road. This road travels from one end of the park to the other (From Estes Park to Grand Lake) if you travel the entire route. We opted to travel half and end at the Alpine Visitor's Center, the highest visitor center in the United States at over 12,000 feet high! The drive takes you up over 4,000 feet in altitude and the last portion of the drive to the Visitor's Center is on the Apline Tundra, above the treeline. It was an incredible experience. We stopped along the way to see overviews, take short hikes/walks and experience the change in weather/temperature. At the top, the Visitor's Center had only the week before been dug out of the snow! In the winter, it is completely submerged under the snow! It was quite chilly up there and the hike we planned to take there was not open because of the recent snowfall. 

Afterwards, we headed back down the mountain to Sheep Lake hoping to catch a sighting of some big horn sheep! And boy did we ever! We got there just in time. The sheep come down from the mountain, cross the road (they even have crossing guards stationed there for the sheep!) to graze in the meadow and drink in Sheep Lake. We got there in time to see the sheep grazing, while a moose was swimming and a herd of elk were grazing on the opposite side of the lake! It was so cool! Then we watched as the sheep crossed back over the road and up the mountain. It was a very awesome experience!

Rocky Mountain National Park was defintely a contender for our favorite park! The experience was so different than what we just left in South Carolina- from the snow to the temperatures to the animal sightings. We loved it!

We also really liked Hermit Park for our campsite. We didn't have hook-ups, which for those of you who are RV newbies like us, means no electricity, water or sewer. But the RV had a 40 gallon water tank, and tanks for the sewer. In addition, the lights, water pump and refrigerator ran on a battery that charged when we drove, but also charged from the solar panels on the roof. Without hook-ups, the microwave, A/C and wall outlets didn't function, but with the weather being so wonderful, we didn't need the A/C and we didn't miss the microwave. We used the generator briefly each morning to make coffee and use the toaster, but other than that, we really didn't miss having no hook-ups. It was a beautiful and quiet place to camp! 


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