We arrived in Estes Park in the afternoon and checked into our lodging at the YMCA of the Rockies, a vast family resort with sprawling grounds and numerous cabins and lodges. We set out to explore Estes Park with one goal: souvenier shopping! The boys had money burning holes in their wallets. Thankfully we found a couple of excellent rock shops, so they avoided t-shirts and baseball caps for something more meaningful and lasting. We couldn't get over the elk that were roaming freely in the town. Here a herd of elk graze outside a barbecue restaurant:
On Saturday morning we began our full day in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a cool, clear morning, and after a stop at the Visitor's Center we began our time with a hike around a picture-perfect mountain lake.
We ventured off the path to a trail leading to some campsites. The boys were happy to discover these snow drifts in the woods. It's difficult to tell from the perspective of the photograph, but the snow was nearly as deep as Reed stands. Even though they weren't dressed for it, the boys couldn't resist climbing the snow and running and sliding down it.
In the afternoon we returned to the YMCA to enjoy one of their many activities - archery! This is an awesome family resort with classes, hikes, and activities planned for children of all ages. The boys spent an hour and a half in the beginning archery class.
Later in the day, we returned to the park. We drove on Trail Ridge Road as far as it was cleared from snow (11 miles in). While they aim to have the road open by Memorial Day each year, it was clear why they won't reach that goal this year. The snow stood many feet higher than Tim!
We then drove down the mountain, out of the cloud bank, to the Alluvial Fan. This waterfall and the debris surrounding it was created by a 1982 dam break and flood. It was a wonderful place to climb and play; however, an afternoon rain shower cut our time short and drove us back to our Jeep.
After a very full day in Rocky Mountain National Park, we returned to our room at the YMCA to try to repack eight days of adventure into three suitcase. Morning will come too soon, and we will leave these mountains with sleep still in our eyes. We're ready to return home with a profound sense of gratitude for our week and a full heart from feasting on this beautiful place.