Tuesday was mostly sunny. so we took the 40+ mile drive along Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake on the southwest side of the park. The road climbs to 12,181 feet at it’s high point. Our scenery changed from green grass and forest to barren rock as we got into the tundra, above tree line.
Just after Rock Cut, where the road was cut through the rock, there is a nice trail called Tundra Communities Trail. It’s only a half mile but it’s uphill and at that elevation in the cold wind, it was more than enough. There were some interesting rock formations and great views.
And lots of marmots scurrying around on the rocks.
Next stop was back down to 8,000 feet where it was much warmer and we could eat lunch outside. We hiked the Coyote Valley trail along the Colorado River hoping to see moose, but no luck. We were only ten miles south of the headwaters.
We continued on to Grand Lake, which is actually just outside of the park. It was a nice little community of vacation homes on the lake and the downtown was quaint with wooden sidewalks and touristy shops, but tastefully done. We stopped in the Grand Lake Lodge, since it looked like an interesting building and Jim wanted to look at the old cars out front.
There was construction along Trail Ridge Road, and the signs warned of up to 30 minute delays, but we were fortunate on the drive west only to have to wait a couple minutes. Not so lucky heading back. At one point we sat for over 45 minutes in a line probably a couple miles long. At least this herd of elk kept us entertained while we waited. Most of them crossed the road except for a couple youngsters who were hesitant. They were very vocal about being left behind, and finally crossed between stopped cars. We were glad we made the drive but it was way too many hours spent sitting in the car, and Jim is not the most patient person, as some of you may know.