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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2015 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  June 2015 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 18-19, 2015 Rocky Mt. National Park, CO
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Author Topic: June 18-19, 2015 Rocky Mt. National Park, CO  (Read 2087 times)

Posts: 2315

June 18-19, 2015 Rocky Mt. National Park, CO
« on: 06/23/15, 08:30 AM »

We arrived late afternoon on the 18th at RMNP and stopped at the Fall River Visitor Center.  I thought I asked the “right person” about skiing in the Park; this did not go well.  She said “it was not allowed and it was dangerous on the snow.”  I was now going for an easier question; seeing as it is Thursday, are there any campground vacancies?  ”Not on this side of the Park, but you could drive for 90 minutes to the west entrance and probably find one.” So it was time to go and find a place. On a whim we drove to the nearby Moraine Park Campground (largest campground in RMNP). The ranger there said “Sure, since your van is only 20' we have a couple of spaces in the tent area that would work.”; this was going better. After checking out our campsite we drove to a couple of lakes and did some short walks.  On the way back, barely a mile from the campground, there was a large herd of elk.  Jill took many photos. I drove because I notice animals and wildflowers – it's my job to be the spotter.

On the 19th , we got up early to drive the Trail Ridge Road east to west for the morning views. We stopped at the Forest Canyon viewpoint and walked out to the overlook, then drove on to the Rock Cut pullout at 12,000+ feet to enjoy the views. Jill walked to the summit of the Tundra Communities trail while Zap fixed breakfast – he saw there was no snow, so no snow, no walk.  Jill shot a few more pictures.  We then stopped at Lava Cliffs where I saw some snow.  Great.  I noticed an east slope with a big cornice, not good; then I noticed a north facing slope – great, until  I walked over and saw a “Closed” sign.  It can not be for real – no skier tracks!  We stopped at the next Visitor Center and I noticed a Park Ranger who might have the answer for skiing. Did you ever ask a Park Ranger for special arrangements because “I ski, was a downhill and backcountry instructor, avy instructor, etc.”?Nope, no special arrangements.  Jill went with a Park Ranger out onto the tundra for a 1˝ hour walk/talk.  It was great, they were on their hands and knees looking at rocks and tiny alpine flowers, etc. in the sun and wind.  She loved it.  The ranger said that 2 weeks ago the high tundra area had been covered with snow.  We finished the drive around through the Park, and most of the snow was gone by now.  So it became a wildlife-viewing day of moose, elk, marmots, and pika. Plus seeing many different wildflowers she had not seen before.  I think it was a nice bunch of yellow, blue, purple, red, and white colors... Jill showed me her photos and names of the flowers she could identify (not many). OK, our skiing is finally over for the 2014/15 season.  It took us skiing in 7 states and 2 Canadian Provinces to complete the season. The 2015/16 ski season begins in 5 months. Yeah.  Jill will be 71 years old and I will still be only 68 (for a few days).  It is GREAT!  Life is good.  Wink

Zap & Jill

Posts: 509

Re: June 18-19, 2015 Rocky Mt. National Park, CO
« Reply #1 on: 06/24/15, 10:59 PM »

Wow, Zap, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with the RMNP folks.  When the road opens around Memerial Day weekend, the skiing car ratio is 20%+ for cars on the top.  It's great to see Americans enjoying exercise instead of watching television.  And all pay for RMNP season passes.  But perhaps that didn't come up in your conversation with the Ranger.

Lava rocks area is very dangerous and should be closed at all times, but the rest of the park is open for business.  Be very gentle on the tundra.  Some of the best skiing is a short walk and a very thankful 1,000 light years from the people you first encountered when you entered the park.  The "know-it-all" tourists are like the worst.  Especially those who interpret your Lava rocks experience the wrong way.  One guy almost came at me with golf clubs once.

This evening in the Park the cloud shadows over the plains went to infinity.

Day (or evening) 56

* IMG_1674.JPG (85.45 KB, 640x480 - viewed 525 times.)

Posts: 509

Re: June 18-19, 2015 Rocky Mt. National Park, CO
« Reply #2 on: 06/25/15, 08:32 PM »

Oh, and I just missed you guys - I was out of town when you were here - or I would have given you the nickle tour.  Offer is open, I'll be there this weekend no doubts.
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