18 May 2013
Springtime in the Rockies
With a lovely day forecast, we headed for Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday. Our first stop was Endo Valley. We saw this wild turkey wandering among the trees.
The creek flowing through Endo Valley is tinged golden with peat. It's flowing fairly full with the snowmelt. We were actually surprised at how little snow there was at this elevation.
But as we headed up Trail Ridge Road, we started to see snowbanks.
At Rainbow Curve, the road is closed. Beyond this point they are still plowing the roads! I've heard reports of drifts over 15 feet tall and yesterday the park posted a photo on their Facebook page of the Alpine Visitor Center still buried in snow! From Rainbow Curve, you can see Horseshoe Park (in the distance) far below as well as the Alluvial Fan (on the left) from the Lawn Lake flood that happened in 1982. Endo Valley is out of view to the left. On the right, you can see Trail Ridge Road snaking up the mountain.
At Rainbow Curve there were many Grey Jays watching for handouts from visitors. Though feeding the animals is strictly forbidden, they must still get their fair share as they keep trying!
This little Colorado Least Chipmunk has found a snack and the little Junco seems to be asking to share!
Then we headed up the Bear Lake Road. It has been undergoing construction for a couple of years now, so we didn't anticipate seeing much wildlife, so were vastly surprised to come around a corner and see this moose! I've never seen the moose on the east side of the park. To get here, it had to cross over the continental divide, which would be quite a journey! The rangers we talked to said there is a small group of them that came over a couple of years ago. What a treat to see!
Mid-day, we stopped for lunch in the Sprague Lake area. We had a prime spot next to the beaver pond. Such a gorgeous day! This is my daughter Jessie and her fiance David.
Though this beaver pond is now abandoned, it remains strong and provides a lovely still pond. The sound of the water burbling through it is so peaceful.
After lunch, we enjoyed a hike around the lake and had a lovely view towards the snowy peaks. We watched an Osprey take a plummeting dive into the lake after a fish from this spot.
It's a lovely spot, and an easy 1/2 mile walk.
The afternoon found us in Moraine Park where we headed back towards one of my favorite areas. Late last fall, the Fern Lake Fire burned through this area removing a large number of trees and much of the undergrowth, leaving it very open. With the spring snow melt, the grass is coming in green and lush. It will be interesting to watch this area rejuvenate after the fire.
The fire also burned through much of Moraine Park. Along here, there used to be massive stands of willow that are now gone. Once again, the fresh green grass is brilliant. Really gorgeous. The creek is running full as it winds across the valley floor! A beautiful end to a lovely day!
White Sands National Monument has one of the prettiest visitor centers. An old adobe building with lovely wooden vigas and timbers. Afte...