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Rocky Mountains Colorado has gorgeous trees, rivers and streams running from Canada to New Mexico.
The Rockies are where the Colorado River is started. It comes from the snow melt every spring and flows from the Continental Divide at La Poudre Pass in Rocky Mountains National Park, Rocky Mountains Colorado, into the Gulf of California between Baja California and Mexico.
I flew into Denver, Colorado many years ago, got a rental car, and drove Northwest through Boulder to Estes Park, Colorado right outside of Rocky Mountains National Park.
I was just awe struck by the beauty of this place. I stood outside my motel and took pictures of the surrounding Rocky Mountains Colorado. I could not wait to get to the Rocky Mountain National Park the next day for some Rocky Mountains Colorado backpacking!
The next day I drove into Rocky Mountain National Park and immediately was impressed by the cleanliness of the place. No trash anywhere!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Alluvial Fan Lawn Lake Flood
I came across an area where in 1982 the Lawn Lake flood had occurred. It now is just water running down from what used to be a lake. In less than 4 hours, 3 people were killed and $31 million in damages, cleanup, and economic loss were created.
Lawn Lake Flood
Trail Ridge Road
I then drove along the Trail Ridge Road. Trail Ridge Road provides spectacular views of the majestic scenery of Rocky Mountains National Park. It is the highest continuous motorway in the United States, with more than 8 miles lying above 11,000 ft. and a maximum elevation of 12,183 ft. "Trail Ridge Road" comes from its proximity to historic paths used by native peoples to cross Rocky Mountains Colorado.
I parked my car at one of the turn outs and hiked around for a while "up here".
Hiking Trail Ridge Road
It was windy and cold at this elevation but exhilarating at the same time! There was a little bit of snow (it was early June, 2002) since this is above 11,000 ft. Gorgeous views all around!
Trail Ridge Road View
Mt. Evans Summit
Mount Evans is the road into the sky. Drive from 8,700 feet at Idaho Spring where you turn off Interstate 70 to 14,240 feet to the top. You will drive by ancient trees, lakes and forest to the area above timberline. You can have 90 degrees in Denver and 40 degrees at the top of Mount Evans. Mountain Goats will greet you as you drive, ride or hike to the top of the world. I was amazed by how close the mountain goats are to you at the top by the visitor center!
This is a scary drive along rocks and I got a little light headed when I got to the top. I had to sit in the car for a while until my head adjusted to the altitude. The road near the top was not in good shape due to the freezing that occurs up here. There are mountain lakes to look at on the way to the top as well. Incredible that you can drive all the way to the top of this mountain!
Pikes Peak is named for Zebulon Pike. Lieutenant Pike first saw what he called the "Great Peak" in mid November of 1806. A few days later, he attempted to ascend it with a small group of men. Heavy snows in the 10,000 foot area turned them back down. He estimated the mountain's total height at over 18,000 feet and claimed that it might never be climbed. Unfortunately for Pike a botanist, named Edwin James, did ascend the mountain in 1820. By the mid-1800's, a trail was well established to the top. Julia Holmes was the first woman to climb the peak in 1858.
You now can drive to the top as well as take the Cog Railway.
I chose to drive and as it turned out, this was the day of the huge "Hayman" fire. The Hayman Fire was a forest fire that started 95 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado and 35 miles northwest of Colorado Springs on June 8, 2002, and was the largest fire in the state's recorded history at that time. I hurried up to the top because I was afraid that the smoke from the fire would close the mountain.
Lucky for me, they did not close the road and I made it to the top. Again, I was light headed from the altitude (over 14,000 ft.) and had to wait a bit for my head to clear.
Pikes Peak View
I hiked around up there and enjoyed the views. I saw the Cog Railway arrive as well. I can't imagine backpacking mountains like this, but people do. They hike all the way to the top from the bottom! Wow!
Also, check out Garden of the Gods at the bottom of Pikes Peak. You can walk through all these red rocks that are very tall. People were climbing the rocks with ropes the day I was there. Amazing!