We decided that today would be our Trail Ridge Road day. We knew it was a must see and we wanted to drive it in the car before it was time to leave. We originally had it as our way to leave the park come Wednesday. Taking a larger motorhome over the road is actually pretty controversial. There are forums galore about whether or not it can and should be done. :) So we wanted to see it for ourselves before making a final decision.
In order to make a loop and backtrack as little as possible, we started our day on the Old Fall River Road. A 9 mile, one way dirt road, we were expecting it to be pretty hairy; I, in particular, was expecting to be on the edge on my seat, constantly giving G the “please slow down so you don’t kill me and my children” look. It ended up being pretty good; it was plenty wide and by no means required 4 wheel drive. The first stop we came to was a waterfall which we all love. The Alluvial Fan is beautifully formed be large boulders which meant, of course, that the kids wanted to go climb them.
We stopped for a few minutes at Chasm Falls and then continued up to the Alpine Visitors Center. This is when we had our first glimpse of wildlife. Just off the road, not even 10 ft away, we saw a small herd of elk. It was quite a sight and I am sure we all were too; :) all the cars inching up slowly with cameras hanging out of car windows, trying to get the best view.
The Alpine Visitor Center, at 11,796 ft elevation is so high there was still snow on the overlook area. We walked thru the shop for a bit and then decided since it was so cold to just eat our lunch in the car. We drove west on Trail Ridge Road and ate lunch at the Medicine Bow Curve overlook. Continuing west, we stopped at several scenic overlooks and also at Milner Pass which marks the Continental Divide. At Holzwarth Historic Site we turned around and started heading back east toward Estes Park. We backtracked up to the Alpine Visitors Center and then continued on Trail Ridge Road which at this point was new to us since we had come up on the Fall River Road. There was a storm moving in and we had just enough time to reach the highest point on the road at 12,183ft and to see Lava Cliffs before our visibility went down and all the mountains were covered by clouds. We went back to the camper to regroup and get warm (the temp had dropped to about 55 degrees) and pretty soon the sun came back out and it started to get warm again. By then it was late afternoon so we decided to stay close and make a grocery store run and do some laundry.