Last week we had the amazing experience of exploring Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. It was especially refreshing because we have been experiencing record breaking heat all summer. We drank in the cool mountain breeze and vistas. The sights, sounds, and smells were so gorgeous that I can’t help but share some photos with you, along with a few tips that we learned along the way.
We quickly learned that mountain weather can be fickle and storms come up fast. Be prepared for them. On our first hike we experienced rain, intense hail, and sun all in about twenty minutes. During the hail we were in the car in the parking lot.The hail was so intense we had to yell to each other to be heard. Whew! If we had arrived just a few minutes earlier we would have been on the trail.
Once the hail passed we hopped out of the car with our umbrellas, which aren’t exactly safe when there is lightening about. Many times I wished that we had five dollar ponchos in a pouch. Even so the rain felt great to us!
Check out the trails before you hike so you know what to expect. There are trail guides available. We hiked up Marmot Point which is above the tree line near the Alpine Visitor Center along Trail Ridge Road.
The hike was steep and the altitude was nearly 11, 900 feet. We felt oxygen deprived, but took our time and made it to the top. There were a few children on the trail, but I know that I likely would not have made it up the to the top if I had to carry a child. Know that your kids are up for a hike or that you can carry little ones in high altitudes.
The views were spectacular. These photos only capture a hint of the moment. I wish you could smell air and feel the wind. Be sure your children can follow directions and can cooperate; there were steep slopes and drop offs all around:
The next day we hiked around Bear Lake. This trail was wide and flat and could easily be accessed with a stroller or wheelchair. After completing that trail we made the hike to Emerald Lake. The temperature changed frequently. It was cool and breezy near a lake or stream then as we hiked up the mountain we became very warm. A light weight jacket would have been better than the heavy zip up sweatshirt that I wore. This is Dream Lake:
This trail was popular and all ages were making their way up to the lake. When we reached the top of the trail we relaxed on the lake’s edge to enjoy the sights and the sounds of a waterfall spilling into Emerald Lake. It was amazing!
Emerald Lake is at the tree line and the snow fed waterfall is toward the back left of the basin. This is the view from large boulders at the end of the trail.
As you can tell I could go on and on!
One final word: be aware of altitude sickness, drink lots of water, wear a hat, use sunscreen and rest as needed. After three days of hiking we were a bit sunburnt and tired in a very good way.
Why plan a hike?
I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the parks and trails in your area. A hike provides the opportunity to bond as a family and enjoy the great outdoors. You can enjoy each others company, engage in conversation, and exercise all at the same time.
You don’t just talk about science, language, and history you can experience it and touch it. For example, this was the first time I walked on “tundra”. We didn’t just talk about it we felt it with our hands and feet as we sat on it. We felt the cold stream water, smelled beautiful wild flowers, and touched the pine trees. Hiking is an interactive learning experience.
Share Your Trails
If you have a favorite park or hiking trail that you would like to share with fellow readers leave the link in the comments and I will add it to the following list. I’ll add a new header for states or countries if needed.
Having fun enjoying the great outdoors together!
Websites for Colorado
The Beach at Wales – a post from Taming the Goblin