Waiting in DIA for our flight home yesterday, a laptop screen caught our eye. It was the very familiar sight of a Lightroom catalog full of wedding photos. We immediately said hello and made small talk - surely interrupting her progress. Upon learning that she had travelled to Colorado for a styled shoot out, we felt the need to “brag” a little that we had carved out time for a personal vacation. As much as we love traveling for work, there is nothing better than taking time out for ourselves. A few years ago we started taking a week off in the summer to camp and hike in a national park. This year we found ourselves in Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked over 70 miles, saw so many lakes, met a countless number of animals, drove along the highest public roads in the country, and took entirely too many photos. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Our first few animal encounters happened at some of the prettiest light we have ever seen…. so we took some photos of each other!
Our first full day of hiking took us on a trail that went past 4 different gorgeous lakes, ending with a longer trek into the tundra to try to reach Sky Pond. Unfortunately the snow pack and waterfall made it entirely too difficult for us to make it in hiking sandals, but we did have a marmot and an elk cross our trail.
As the day wound down, we found another deer - seemed to be a theme… followed by the first of many gorgeous sunsets.
Thursday morning, we drove across the park to the westside in hopes of finding moose. On the way across the tundra drive we came across some elk, big horn sheep, marmots, and pikas.
So our favorite animal to encounter throughout the trip was the pika… A pika is a cousin of a rabbit with the lungs of a much much larger animal. You can almost hear this photo.
Once we made it to west side of the park, we started our 6 mile hike out to the meadows where we were most likely to find moose, and we found two way off in the distance.
The best encounter of Thursday though, was on the way back to our campsite: a momma mule deer and her two babies!
Thursday morning we woke up with Elk just 4 sites down from our campsite and then took a scenic drive up to the tundra - mostly just to hang out with the marmots and big horns again - but we got a treat: a coyote crossed the road right behind our car. Rain sent us back to our site early, but it cleared with just enough time for us to make a short hike to a lake near our campground
Saturday morning meant it was time to pack up our site and leave the park. We drove back west through the park and came across a moose family! It was so exciting to see. The rest of the day was spent exploring Breckenridge and some of the other towns in the area before setting up camp in a campground outside of Frisco and Dillon on the Dillon Reservoir.
Sunday morning took us east to Mt Evans - the highest paved road in the US where we got to hang out with some of the coolest mountain goats ever. When we parked near the top, we hiked up to the summit and watched 4 skiers hike across the ridge to a snowpack and ski down. It’s a lot of work to ski in July!
Monday took us to Colorado Springs and a drive up Pike’s Peak. Because of construction we had to park 3 miles from the top and shuttle to the summit. At the summit, we decided to hike down, which involved climbing down a boulder field - this. was. a. mistake. - we were stiff and achey for the next 2 days.
At the bottom of Pike’s Peak is one of the coolest free parks I have ever seen: Garden of the Gods.
With every trip, we always spend a day doing some city exploring before flying home - and it worked out that the Rockies were in the middle of a home series against the Giants, so we checked another MLB park off our list!