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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Pt. II

By Jul 30th 2010 No Comments »

On Thursday we decided to hang up our hiking boots and explore the park by car.  From Estes we decided to take Old Fall River Road to Trail Ridge Road.

Old Fall River Road was opened in 1920 and was the first auto-route into the park offering it’s visitors access to the mountainous high country.  The road, which is still unpaved, traverses 11 miles of steep and uneven grades, winding switchbacks and slow, one-way travel.  The road winds throughout a montane wilderness, climbing to elevations over 11,000 all while clinging to the rocky mountainsides with no guard rails to add protection.

The roadway follows the route traveled by Indians many years ago, seeking the abundant animal life in the park’s high country. Today, people seek out it’s accessibility to be closer to nature. Over the years, it has been regarding as the “motor nature trail.”

From Fall River Road we picked up Trail Ridge Road, which is well known for being the highest continuous paved road in the nation.  Trail Ridge Road traverses the Park from Estes Park in the east, to Grand Lake, Colorado in the west.  At Milner Pass, elevation of 10,758 ft., it crosses the Continental Divide.  Near Fall River Pass, Trail Ridge Road reaches its maximum elevation of 12,183 feet.

There are 54 miles of accessible roadway available to motorists along Trail Ridge Road, which winds throughout the park, offering seemingly-never-ending views at every turn.  Elk graze on either side of the road and the occasional Big Horn Sheep can be spotted holding up traffic.

If you are in the area and are planning on traveling Trail Ridge Road in the near future, plan for traffic delays caused by construction improvements to the road.  For a solid 5 hours exploration of the park via car, take Old Fall River Road to Trail Ridge back to Estes Park. There are numerous scenic pull offs along the drive, so being able to snap a full memory card’s worth of photos will not be a problem.

If you are lucky enough to be in the Estes Park area come late September and October, hundreds of Elk make there way down from the mountains for mating season in the valley.  Although I have not seen this myself, I heard it is pretty incredible.

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