Centennial // Estes Park & Rocky Mountain National Park

One of my favorite places in Colorado is the little mountain town of Estes Park. My family and I have been going here since I was little.

There are always herds of elk roaming around the town and in residents' yards. It's a quaint place with Christmas ornament store counting down the days to the holiday and tons of candy shops, especially taffy (no idea why). One of the best parts thought is how close it is to Rocky Mountain National Park (the BEST national park).

Gina and I decided to make it a day trip and hit both of those places. I made Gina drive because I haven't driven a car in awhile.


She kept yelling at me to look out the window for mountain goats. Typical.


First stop though was a walk down the main street. Like I said, the stores are cute and quirky with a whole lot of small town character.


While we wandered stores, we found some cool patches (scroll down for some pictures!)

Now originally, we weren't planning on going into RMNP because it was a Friday (aka pretty busy) and the park's centennial (aka lots of celebrations). We made a split second decision and made our way into the park.


Good decision for SURE! Our luck continued with us to the parking lot where gina was flabbergasted that we even got a spot. For her, it was the highlight of the day. We set out to Emerald Lake Trail.


Unfortunately we made our way in to the park around the afternoon so the storms were already brewing. We asked a ranger how much time we had until the sky open up and dumped rain. He said an hour which was more than we thought, but we started to jog on the trail.


First stop was Nymph Lake full of lily pads and a reflection of darkening skies. We hustled on.


At this point we decided we would only have time for Dream Lake. Emerald Lake will have to be another day.


The trail weaved its way through the trees and over running creeks. Purple mountains peaked out through the pines with little bits of yellow here and there, a sign that autumn was approaching.




After inadvertently scrambling down some rocks, we found Dream Lake. And it was quite a dream....so tranquil and calm, you could hear all of the insects buzzing and the birds chirping.


It was a quick visit and we scurried back down, once again jogging and passing the latecomers who were soon to experience a good rain.


Before we hopped back in the car, we swung over to Bear Lake which was right near the parking lot.


Fun fact: Gina and I have more pictures of patches than of the actually scenery. Oops.


Well, since we were in the park, we had a scenic drive through Hidden Valley and even said hello to a few natives.


The herd was huge and two of them had full racks. Gina and I were watching the deer and guessing which person would get attacked first seeing that people were only 5 feet away.


I love this place! Rocky Mountain National Park is the BEST national park. Happy Centennial!


But next time, we're going early before all of the storms.