Estes Park & Rocky Mountain National Park

The weather in Colorado was unusually rainy and cloudy while we were there last week.  However, the time we spent in Estes Park was mostly clear, allowing us to do some sight-seeing and hiking in the area.  The drive up to Estes Park from Longmont on US Highway 36 is always a beautiful adventure, traveling up the curvy road into the higher elevations.  Along the route were remnants of the catastrophic flooding that occurred here last September.  Debris from houses and other structures were apparent along the valley floor.  A 2-mile section of the highway just outside of Lyons that had been damaged by the rushing water was opened temporarily to allow traffic to pass through.  Coming into town, we made the obligatory stop for the touristy shot in front of the slab of rock marking the entrance to this mountain village.

Greeting us with some music as we came into town was this gentlemen playing the fiddle.  He seemed to be an interesting fellow, so I snapped a quick shot.

The Fiddler

After grabbing some lunch at a small diner that claimed to have the best pie in Colorado (not sure about that claim) and checking into the hotel, we decided to take a drive up into Rocky Mountain National Park.  Entering the Beaver Meadows entrance, we proceeded to Bear Lake for a short hike around this scenic alpine body of water left behind by the glaciers eons ago.  It was a beautiful day for a hike, and many others thought the same as the parking lot was nearly full.       

Bear Lake Panorama, Rocky Mountain National Park

After the short hike around Bear Lake, we extended our hike to the southwest for a view of Alberta Falls.  Named for Alberta Sprague, wife of Abner Sprague, one of the original settlers of Estes Park, Alberta Falls is a 30-foot waterfall located on Glacier Creek.  The sound of the falls could be heard long before they came into view and the power of the water could literally be felt moving down this gorge.  I wanted to show the movement of the water, but didn't bring the tripod along on the hike.  So, thought I would stop down the aperture and try hand-holding, even though the shutter speeds were quite slow at about 1/3 of a second.  I like how they turned out...  

Alberta Falls, Black & White

Alberta Falls

Of course, no hike in the area would be complete without seeing some wildlife.

Alberta Falls Wildlife

On the drive back out, we noticed a bit of a traffic jam in the road ahead.  Then we saw what all the cars were stopping for...

Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park

After driving the lower loop around the park, we made it back into Estes Park just as the rain started.  The rain let up and the clouds parted just in time to show off a colorful sunset.  This shot is of the historic Park Theatre in Estes Park, the oldest operating cinema in the western United States.

Park Theater, Estes Park, Colorado