By Marilyn Noble
One of America’s iconic drives in Rocky Mountain National Park takes you along what feels like the top of the world. Highway 34, connecting Estes Park and Grand Lake, Colo. becomes Trail Ridge Road once you enter the park. First opened to traffic in 1934, Trail Ridge Road meanders through glacial valleys; lush meadows; and forests of aspen, fir, and spruce until it climbs into the tundra above treeline. Along the way, pull-outs allow visitors to enjoy the spectacular views and watch wildlife, some of which has no fear of people and will beg for treats, despite the signs warning against feeding the persistent critters.
For anyone with more time and a sense of adventure, trails in the park allow for day hikes and longer backpack trips. Longs Peak, at 14,259 feet, is the highest point in the park, and is a destination for skilled mountain climbers. If you’re really feeling energetic, you can ride a bicycle over Trail Ridge Road. It will give you a new understanding of the importance of oxygen in your life.
The park, which is observing its centennial this year, provides services including picnic areas, campsites, fishing, visitor centers, and events celebrating the history and nature of the park. If you don’t want to camp in the park, both Estes Park and Grand Lake offer many lodging and food options.
Rocky Mountain National Park is located in Northern Colorado about two hours northwest of Denver. Check the website for road and trail conditions and information about camping and backpacking. Trail Ridge Road closes in the Fall and usually opens again on Memorial Day weekend.