The Rocky Mountains form one of the worlds longest mountain ranges and are interesting in a number of ways. There is a brief six week growing period during the summer months when wildflowers can be found and animals come out to enjoy this lush time. It is also during this time that the most visitors enter the park.
On a tight schedule, we drove through the park in a day and stopped at (almost) all the turnouts to enjoy the magnificent views. It was hard getting our heads around the fact that we were driving at elevations between 8240 ft/2511 m and 12183 ft/3713 m. Later, we hiked up a short trail to 12005 ft / 3660 m. In the Alps, this is virtually impossible. Not only is there snow up at that altitude, there are no roads. The highest tourist lookout point (only to be reached via cable car) is the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at 12740 ft/3883 m. Most will know Jungfraujoch 11370 ft/3466 m or Gornergrat 10285 ft/3135 m. Stepping out onto the platform, no one is without a jacket and you’d be happy if you remembered to bring along a hat. Here we were in the Rockies, little to no snow surrounding us, and all we had on were sweaters.
Just outside of the National Park, there are three large lakes. It was time for a late lunch and we stopped at a picnic area on Shadow Mountain Lake. The lake had a beautiful blue color and despite some fellow picnicers a few tables over playing music, it had a serene feel and we were immediately relaxed as we sat at our table enjoying cheese and pickle sandwiches and peaches.
The short break left us refreshed as we made our way towards Glenwood Springs, first along the Eagle and then the Colorado River. I marveled at the little creek the Colorado River was at its source, knowing that it slowly turns into rushing river. Almost a year and a half ago, I had made nearly the same trip with the California Zephyr. Driving in the car was just a spectacular, especially when passing through the amazing Glenwood Canyon.