One of the biggest reasons I was excited to move to Denver – and am still excited – is its proximity to the one of the most popular parks in the National Park System: Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, visiting RMNP was literally the first thing I did when I moved here in October. And at “only” an hour-and-a-half away, it is a “perfectly reasonable” distance for this Midwesterner. Plus, the views and wildlife along the way make the drive even more enjoyable.
But until I actually moved here, I had never visited my favorite park in the wintertime. Over the past three years, I had visited only in the summertime. Each time I tried new trails, but also made sure to return to sites of previous adventures to see how they had changed. Unsurprisingly, RMNP changes a little bit in the winter. See if you can spot any changes in the following two photos of the same ridge (though from different vantage points). They might be subtle.
I will say, one of my favorite aspects of RMNP in the wintertime is the blowing snow. I have been lucky to avoid snowstorms during my winter adventures so far, usually arriving a day or two after some fresh powder has fallen. Wind coming off the mountains picks it up and often blows it over the peaks, making for an atmospheric landscape.
And I am not the only one to have been enjoying the park in the winter. Earlier this month, I was walking around Lily Lake when I discovered a couple having a frigid wedding ceremony at the entrance to the lake. If it looks cold and windy, it was! I snapped this photo below, and thanks to the power of social media, was able to track down the couple and send them a copy. Congratulations to them!
I should mention that I am only a visitor to the park, of course. But there are creatures who call it home, and they are another of my favorite sights to see. In Iowa, we have deer a plenty, so I was a little puzzled when I encountered these strange looking deer that I had never seen before. Thankfully, the National Park Service helped me identify them as mule deer, and they are wonderful to observe – from a distance.
In all, Rocky Mountain National Park is awesome year-round. However, given my limited budget and lack of real winter hiking equipment, I anticipate I will be enjoying the park from relatively close to the main roads for the foreseeable futur. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, of course. For example, I took this photo of Chapin Mountain at sunset from just off Trail Ridge Road.
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Till next time, fly safe!