Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Estes Park Adventures

Looking for some adventure in Estes Park, Colorado?
Here are some ideas for you!

(Jeeping along Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park)

1) Rent a Jeep and take the dirt roads!

Backbone Adventures located at 1851 North Lake Ave. in Estes Park has a variety of rental choices from Jeeps, to ATVs, and snowmobiles. Phone: 970-235-5045

Green Jeep Tours located at 157 Moraine Ave in Estes Park provides customized, guided Jeep tours. Phone: 970-577-0034

Wildside 4x4 located at 212 E. Elkhorn Ave. in Estes Park offers a "Top of the World Tour" and "Sunset Tour." Phone: 970-586-TOUR 

(Entrance to RMNP from Grand Lake, CO)

2) Ride high in the sky along the Estes Park Aerial Tramway.

(Looking down over the town of Estes Park, Colorado.)

The Estes Park Aerial Tramway carries you up to the Observation Platform where you will also find a gift shop and tiny coffee shop.  You may have to wait in line a little while, as they run only two gondolas at a time. However, the views at the top are well worth the wait! There appeared to also be a hiking trail at the top.

Check their website for seasonal opening times/dates and prices.

3) Horseback riding in the National Park!

There are several horse rentals in the area. I will only list a few.

Rocky Mountain National Park has two stables within the park: Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables. Their site also lists rules and other resources to be aware of.

 (Wildflowers in West Horseshoe Park in RMNP)
SK Horses offers several tour options on their National Park Gateway tour. They offer 2 Hour tours, half-day, and full day tours.

Jackson Stables (at the YMCA in Estes Park) has 1 hour all the way to All Day tours available.

All photos posted are the property of this blogger. All rights reserved. 2017.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dinosaur National Monument: A Secluded Oasis Full of History

In May, I took a solo trip to Dinosaur National Monument. It was on my list of places to explore since I first moved to Colorado in 2003. Finally, I was able to make the trek and it was well worth it! I was in a place of needing some alone time, as well as, soul refreshment. The drive from Denver up toward the northwest corner of Colorado took about six hours. I checked in and found my spot at the Green River Campground. It was a peaceful setting, situated next to the river with views of Split Mountain Canyon toward the northwest. It was an idyllic spot (especially since I got there on Thursday night before the weekend crowd). At night, shadows of campers sitting around their campfires reflected above me in the branches of the cottonwood grove. I was quickly reminded of the Fremont people who once lived here, leaving stories carved along rock walls nearby.

(Cub Creek Petroglyphs)
In the morning, I drove over to the Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall. My eyes widened as I entered the exhibit hall and immediately began to decipher an entire wall of well-preserved dinosaur fossils stacked on top of each other. One of the most intact dinosaur skulls in the world is located here, Allosaurus fragilis.
(Replica of Allosaurus fragilis)
(Part of the fossil wall located inside of the Quarry Exhibit Hall)
This wall was actually a part of a sandstone foothill, where in 1909, Earl Douglass found several dinosaur bones sticking out of the ground. He then continued his research efforts in conjunction with the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1915, Dinosaur National Monument was created to protect this fossil bed. Today, visitors can view over 1,500 bones ranging from Allosaurus, Camarasaurus, Stegosaurus (the Colorado State fossil), and others.

Later, I spent some time hiking along several of the park trails looking for petroglyphs and wide open spaces. Eventually, I ventured down toward Josie Morris's cabin (pictured below). Josie, an independent woman, built her own cabin here in 1913. She lived off the land, planted vegetables, tended the ranch, and lived and died here over fifty years later. Today, visitors can step inside her humble abode and envision what life may have been like for Josie.

(Josie Bassett Morris's cabin)
Dinosaur National Monument is situated so that half of the park is in Utah and the other portion in Colorado. Interestingly, there is no public knowledge of any dinosaur fossils on the Colorado side. So, if fossils are your interest then you must make your way to Jensen, Utah. On the Colorado side of the monument, is where I felt most secluded. The views were expansive and I had the chance to feel like I was the only one on the planet. I found the perfect spot to sit, ponder, and adjust my bearings for whatever life brings next.
(Thank you NPS for preserving such beautiful landscapes and natural history!)
(View from Echo Park Overlook on the Colorado side)
The park is huge. On my next visit I hope to visit the Gates of Lodore area, raft along the Yampa or Green Rivers, and hike a few more trails.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

North County: Seafood meets Mexican (home of Denver's best fish tacos)

Denver, the land-locked city that it is, makes it an adventure to find fresh, yummy seafood.
But look no further.
The North County, according to their webpage offers "traditional ceviches, oysters, mussels, tortas, salads and of course, a collection of the best fish and street tacos around." I delightfully agree.
I tried both the salmon and swordfish tacos--"Baja style"
They did not disappoint.
The carne asada fries tasted as good as they look!

They have happy hour every day except for Sunday.
So, if you want to feel like you are slightly nearer to the ocean....and partake of some delicious seafood-meets-Mexican fare; check out North County.

Monday, January 23, 2017

New Wildlife Drive: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, located in Commerce City just outside of Denver, has made some noteworthy additions. This past summer they introduced over 30 black-footed ferrets to the refuge, continuing the effort to re-populate the species.
Also, within the past month or so they have opened the new Wildlife Drive, a vast stretch of road where visitors can meander through bison habitat, as well as, catch a postcard view of the front range.
Visitors should be advised to drive cautiously as there are a plethora of white-tailed deer often attemping to cross the road. The bison have also been seen on and next to the road. When I saw them they seemed slightly annoyed with the small amount of car traffic near them.
 (I find that I have mixed feelings about visitors now being able to be so close to them....)
However, the Wildlife Drive definitely opens up the park exposing expansive views and additional opportunities for wildlife viewing.

The RMANWR is a quick escape for urban nature lovers. There are "over 330 migratory and regular wildlife" species to behold. So grab your camera and a friend and head on over to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Plus, it's FREE!

Wildlife tips:
Bald eagle sightings are most frequent between January and April. They are typically best viewed in the late afternoon as they come back to the trees to roost. However, it is possible to see them at all hours of the day.

Morning is a great time to see a variety of wildlife awake and on the move.

For more blog posts about the refuge click here.