Join us, won’t you, as we partake of a splendid 3-day Colorado road trip.

I guess she can’t help it. She does it all the time.

When others smile, she frowns. When others are serious, she’s quite the opposite. When others are front-facing, she proffers a backend view.

If you’ve perused some of my other posts, you may have seen the evidence. This trip added to the already burgeoning photographic antics of Calie.  😯

Hopefully, you read the 5 fun posts about our San Diego Escapades in August 2017.

Calie flew us out so we could watch her compete in the Marine Corps High-Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) championship.

It proved to be a trip chuck full of beautiful ocean vistas, new adventures, and nail-biting events! Click here to enjoy day 1.

We returned home, and 10 days later Calie and her friend, Kayla, came for a visit. Arrival was late on a Saturday night.

A couple of days before, Calie had sprung the news that she would like to take a road trip to Colorado while she was home.

That was too tempting to pass up, so…

Sunday morning at 6:30, we were “on the road again!”  

Family travel

Fun times ahead

Our son, Luke, lives in Loveland, CO, which is the portal to the Big Thompson Canyon, which, of course, leads to Estes Park, which is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), our customary destination!

We made good time and got to Luke’s place about 2 pm, added him to the group, and made a beeline for Estes.

Have you been to the park? Two roads get you to the top.

Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuously paved road in the United States. It climbs to 12,183 feet and connects the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake.

Or, you can ascend to the top via Old Fall River Road, the original thoroughfare, built in 1920.

Don’t get too close to the edge…

We choose OFRR whenever possible. It’s 9 miles of a narrow, one-way, 5-mph winding road with up-close

and personal views of all the splendor you can take in. Waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, and more.

Since Kayla had never been there before we made sure to show her our favorite spots, even though the day was cool and muddy.

Hiking off of Old Fall River Road, Chasm Falls

Rick at Chasm Falls

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Chasm Falls, off Old Fall River Road

Kayla kindly took our pic

A muddy Old Fall River Road day

Me on a muddy-OFRR day

Muddy Old Fall River Road

Luke is taking a picture of me taking a picture of the view.

See the Alpine Visitor’s Center at the top?

Cloudy day on Old Fall River Road

Cloudy, but still a colorful day  🙂

This shot is almost to the top of OFRR.

Many times we see elk up here

as we did this day.

I will share some elk photos in a bit.

We made it to the top and took Trail Ridge Road back down to Estes.

Here the kids are near the highest point on TRR.

This particular stop has one of the best views of the whole road. (It’s more beautiful on a sunny day!)

At the top of Trail Ridge Road, RMNP

Near the highest part of the road

Kid making fun of parent trying to do a selfie

She’s really good at making fun of me!  😯

After acquiring several awesome shots of elk, our stomachs beckoned us on to lower elevations in search of dinner.

Along the way, the trees on Trail Ridge Road presented their spectacular fall wardrobe, and

we were almost out of the park when we spotted a mule (?) deer crossing the road.

Once in Estes, The Rock Inn won the dinner vote.   Surrounded by majestic peaks, we laughed and feasted in the mountain air . 

Night had darkened the walls of the Big Thompson Canyon

as we wound our way to Loveland to drop Luke off and to get some sleep in preparation for day 2.

Elk galore!

(And there were even more.)

Elk in Rocky Mountain Nat'l ParkElk on Trail Ridge Road in RMNP
Elk in the parkA loan male elk in the Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park

Scenic memories…

Beautiful Trail Ridge Road in the fall.

Picture perfect scene

Trail Ridge Road view

Kayla records some memories

Deer in Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park

Just a walk in the park…

Dinner, mountains, and memories

Rock Inn Mountain Tavern, Estes Park, CO

Fun atmosphere and tasty food here

Rock Inn Mountain Tavern, Estes Park, CO

Fun times!

Day 2

We awoke to dreary skies this day also, but that didn’t damper our fun or sights.

After Starbucks coffee and breakfast sandwiches,

we headed toward Big Thompson Canyon again.

She didn’t want to miss a thing on either side of the road

This time, halfway through the canyon, we took a less-used route to reach Estes… choosing to go through Glen Haven, a SMALL town, and Devil’s Gulch.

These names make them even more fun, don’t they?!

Glen Haven: elevation 7200 ft, population 100 people. The town features about 3 buildings, including a “library.”

A fun, winding, hairpin-curved paved road leads through Devil’s Gulch and into the Lumpy Ridge area outside of Estes.

Glen Haven, CO General Store, home of the giant cinnamon rolls

This is the only store in town

Glen Haven Colorado's library!

Yep! This is the library!  😯

MacGregor Ranch, Estes Park

See the Twin Owls in the Lumpy Ridge area?

View from Devil's Gulch Rd outside of Estes Park

Gorgeous mountains surrounding Estes as seen from Devil’s Gulch Road

Upon arriving in Estes, we showed Kayla a couple of items of interest and headed out of town on highway 7, which is part of a scenic drive.

The road shared countless interesting sites and scenes. For example:

1. An almost-ghost town

2. A giant steam shovel

3. Further down, a town living at over 10,000 in elevation

We took a wrong turn and ended up in Ferncliff, a dying, eerie little town tucked away in the trees. We had to backtrack to get out because the road dead-ended.  😯

Wildflowers and Lumpy Ridge, Estes Park

As always, colorful Estes

Estes Park sign on highway 36

View from southeast of town, where Joel Estes originally saw what would become Estes Park

Near Ferncliff, CO

Pretty landscape, getting near eerie Ferncliff 😯

Fall colors of Colorado

The orange and yellow of fall trees brighten the grey

Once free from Ferncliff’s winding dead-end road…

We found lunch in Nederland, at NED’S, housed in a yellow building trimmed in pink! (It offered unique and monstrously-portioned meals.)  😮

Nederland, established in 1874, began its history as the site of the mill for silver ore from the silver-rich mines at Caribou,

now a ghost town five miles away. Many mountain villages begin as mining camps,

which means (to me) they reek with exciting, and sometimes mysterious, history.

On display in Nederland is a big, ol’ 1923 steam shovel, the largest operating steam shovel in the United States.

Also, it has the distinction of being the last remaining steam shovel of the equipment used to create the Panama Canal.

Pretty cool what you can find in small mountain towns, huh?

Nederland sights and memories

NED'S in Nederland, CO

Colorful and delicious Ned’s

Steam shovel in Nederland, CO

This 1923 working steam shovel helped dig the Panama Canal!

Big lunch at Ned's in Nederland, CO

Calie working on her 7-meat sandwich!

Lunch at Ned's in Nederland, CO

Kayla’s bagel sandwich (including cream cheese!) and yummy fries

We changed highways a few times, driving in and out of dreary skies intermixed with sunny patches,

reveled in the autumn colors,

and came to Leadville~our destination for the day.

Leadville, the highest U.S. city at 10,200 elevation, is completely surrounded by high mountain peaks!

(A couple of “statutory towns” boast higher elevations.)

We checked into the Columbine Inn, a nice homey place, and hit the road again.

Lofty Leadville

Breathtaking Leadville, CO

Stunningly astounding Leadville on a clear afternoon

Leadville, CO, 10,200 elevation

Leadville has the honor of being the highest city, rainy or not  🙂

During our afternoon excursion, we found an exhilarating road.

From Leadville, we drove south on 25 and then west on 82 toward Aspen.

I described this road in my travel journal as cool, crazy, and narrow (about 1 & 1/2 lanes)!

Vannie (our van) clung to the mountainside as she navigated tight turns and threatening drop-offs (they weren’t that bad!)

on this guardrail-less byway as our eyes feasted on the views of  Mt. Elbert (the tallest peak in CO),

Twin Lakes, and the pristine, undisturbed nature.

One exceptional point was Independence Pass, which Rick and I had visited in 2013.

I snapped the same views on both trips, and the vista hasn’t changed a bit!

It’s hard not to share all the pics, but I held myself back.

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Independence Pass, 2017

Sharing a quiet minute

Independence Pass

Love this!

Beautiful Independence Pass


Independence Pass

Independence Pass is worth a visit!

Making faces

Surprise, Mom!!  😀

A TINY library, an eerie little town, and spectacular mountain views

A plethora of memorable sights was added to our memory banks this day.  What a blessing to spend time with loved ones out in God’s creation,

forming fun memories to last a lifetime!

Back in Leadville, we had some interesting pizza for dinner.  😮  Kayla was NOT a fan!

On to the final day of our jam-packed road trip…

Our last day in Colorado!  🙁

Leadville presented us with a bright, clear day. Fresh mountain mornings are so exhilarating to me! After coffee and some breakfast,

which included just a BIT of cream cheese, we set off in search of new adventures.

Cream cheese/bagel sandwich
Morning in Leadville,CO

Walking the town of Leadville is intriguing with its many interesting buildings, which include the Tabor Opera House, the Tabor Grand Hotel, the Legendary 1879 Silver Dollar Saloon, as well as museums and Baby Doe’s Cabin and the Matchless Mine.

I have read that more has been written about Horace Tabor than any other historical Colorado figure. The Tabors were a very wealthy couple at one time, but their luck, health, and money ran out.

Horace died of appendicitis in 1899, and Baby Doe froze to death in a mining cabin in 1935!

Walking the streets of Leadville

 Kayla and Rick walking the streets of wonderfully historic Leadville

Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville, CO

 Me and Calie in front of Leadville’s Legendary Silver Dollar Saloon

An enthralling lake,  golden aspens, and  an unforgettable bridge

We hit the road in search of golden Quaking Aspens and found so much more!

Yesterday, 24 South yielded the exhilarating drive; today, 24 North led us to the most captivating lake scene.

The mirror-like lake was found just south of Red Cliff, a picturesque area.

The region around Red Cliff has a green bridge not soon forgotten, a mining ghost town (Gilman), and Minturn, a cute, colorful little village.

Vibrant blue Colorado sky and Quaking aspens

They are in awe of the moon and the bright array of colors!

Stunning lake scene on Highway 24 between Leadville and Red Cliff

Photo credit goes to Calie. Didn’t she do an amazing job?!

Serene mountain lake scene near Red Cliff, CO

A welcomed moment of solitude

Red Cliff Bridge near Red Cliff, CO

Memorable bridge

Near Red Cliff, CO

Just hangin’ out on some large rocks with an awesome view 😎

Quaking aspens lit by the sun

Pretty golden trees

Gilman ghost town

The “dead” mining town of Gilman

We wished to see the park again before saying goodbye to Colorado, so we made our way there via Grand Lake.

The day remained clear and we got some sharp images of the orange/yellow trees, lively-colored flowers, and rugged peaks.

The flowers always strike me as more vibrant in the mountain air.  🙂

Most times, we head for home around noon, but we didn’t leave Loveland until 6 pm!

I got the tired shift  😯  driving from 10 pm until home at 2 am.  😥

Rock Cut, Trail Ridge Road

This dog took in all the sights, too!

A clear view of Long's Peak from Trail Ridge Road

Longs Peak, the tallest in RMNP, far left

Trail Ridge Road in all its splendor

Perfect day for a drive

Dazzling mountain flowers

Flowers thrive in mountain air

I shall close this jam-packed road trip now.

I’d like to show more ruggedly stunning pictures and maybe even another silly face or two,

but, alas, I don’t want to overdo it.  🙂

I hope you are loving Colorado as much as I do. It’s my pleasure to share the joy with you. ♥

Thanks for being here!

Be sure to share this post with some nature lover you know using the buttons below.

Tata for now.

May more blessings, blooms, stunning places and silly faces be yours,

Pam  ♥

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In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. ~

Psalm 95:4

Okay, just a few more!  😀

High Mountain Pies, Leadville, CO

Silly face

View of Independence Pass, CO

Silly face and stunning place!

Mountain High Pies in Leadville, CO

Like I said, I guess she can’t help it!!

Author: Pam

Glad you’re here!