Rocky Mountain National Park, 1999


In July, 1999, we traveled to Rocky Mountain National Park for a week of sightseeing and dayhiking. RMNP provides plenty of hiking opportunities and represents mountainous Colorado at its scenic best. The weather cooperated and we had sunshine and perfect weather every day, with some substantial (but normal?) winds in the higher elevations.

Trail Ridge Road  is a major highlight of the National Park and is billed as the highest, continuously paved road in the United States. We drove the road to the Alpine Visitor Center, located at nearly 12,000' elevation. Along the way, we had unrestricted views of vast alpine terrain. Wildlife sightings included elk, deer, marmots and big horn sheep. A short hike on the Ute trail took us across the expansive, tundra to solitude away from the building crowds along the road. Although not really cold, the wind was fierce.
RMNP sign
Entering RMNP
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road, 12,000'
Alpine Visitor Center
Alpine Visitor Center

Chasm Lake  lies at the base of 14,221' Longs Peak, the park's only "fourteener". The 4.5 mile trail to Chasm Lake begins at the Longs Peak trailhead and winds through conifer forest for about 2 miles before traversing sub-alpine meadows. Longs Peak is a technical climb in June that requires use of ice axe and crampons due to the lingering snow. We elected not to attempt it, but instead chose highly-touted Chasm Lake for our destination. The lake and the charming 11,800' sub-alpine terrain did not disappoint us.
A cold, early start at the Longs Peak Trailhead
Along the trail to Chasm Lake. Longs Peak just ahead.
Chasm Lake
11,800' Chasm Lake lies at the base of Longs Peak

Flattop Mountain  was our destination for our third dayhike in the park. The trail climbed steadily and provided us with stunning views along the way. Upon reaching 12,324' Flattop Mountain, we huddled behind a large rockpile to escape the cold, stiff wind. Nearby Hallett Peak proved too irrestible and after resting and warming ourselves for a few minutes, we struggled the additional 400 vertical feet to the top of the prominent, towering mound. The feeling of being perched upon the relatively pointy mountaintop in the extremely fierce wind was both exhilarating and awe-inspiring! Hallett Peak, at 12,713', and Flattop Mountain lie directly on the Continental Divide. Both provided stupendous views of Colorado's mountainous terrain.
Flattop Mt. Trail
On the trail to Flattop Mt.
Hallett Peak
Hallett Peak, elev. 12,713'

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