We got up with reveille for the 2nd time this week. Around 6:30 AM, we’ve heard a recording of reveille played. The first time I heard it I thought “Are you kidding me?” and thought it was someone in the campground, but that would have been so RUDE. So we did some research and figured out it had to be coming from Ft. Carson just down the road from here. Today when we heard it, we laughed and said “Who needs an alarm?” and got up. We were on the road by 9 AM. It’s early on a Saturday, so we’re hoping that traffic won’t be too bad. It was 72 degrees under a hazy sky and we headed north on I-25 toward Denver with a quick fuel stop. Looking at Pike’s Peak this morning, we noticed that we couldn’t see any snow at the top. When we first got here 4 days ago there was quite a bit. I’m sure the warm temps the last 2 days melted a lot of it. As we passed the Air Force Academy, I could finally get a picture of the Chapel spires and see the entire football stadium from the highway.
It’s always awesome to see. My brother graduated from the Air Force Academy, so it’s got special meaning to me. We ran into some road construction in the foothills as we neared Denver–the “Mile High City” (elevation 5,280ish feet). On the outskirts of Denver, we spotted Castle Rock.
We haven’t been through Denver in many years and my, how it’s changed. They have an elevated railway system that runs way out into the suburbs.
It has a beautiful downtown skyline.
I also got a glimpse of the gold-domed capitol building.
We drove right through downtown on I-25 without any problems and right past the Denver Broncos Mile High Stadium.
We caught faint glimpses of the snow-capped mountains to the West.
Rocky Mountain National Park here we come! They have a new system for the park where you reserve a 2-hour time block to enter the park. Once you enter during your time block it is ok to come and go and stay as long as you like. It just takes a little weather checking and planning ahead. They are limiting the number of vehicles entering the park each day because Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is the 7th most visited park in the United States and due to COVID. We pulled off at a spot to eat our pre-made sandwiches and to kill some time. If we arrived before 1 PM, they could charge us a fee of $25. The views got better as we neared the mountains and RMNP.
Highway 36 to our campground was labled as a scenic highway and scenic it was.
It followed the Big Thompson River all the way.
It wound us through the mountains.
We climbed and climbed with a speed of whopping 30-35 mph. The road was too twisty and winding to go any faster. Then we were up and over and heading down the other side.
Near the town of Hygiene (yes, that was the name of the town) we spotted a marajuana dispensary, Starbuds Dispensary.
That’s the first one we’ve seen on this trip, but it won’t be the last. We crossed over the Lake Estes and the Fall River as we entered the town.
Our route took us through downtown Estes Park.
Traffic was backed up and there were tourists everywhere, some with masks, but most without. How disappointing!
Once we got through town, it was a short distance to our campground, Elk Meadow Lodge and RV Resort, arriving at 1:30.
Bob checked us in at the office.
We had reserved our specific site online on February 3. It was an awesome site which backed up to the trees on a slight hill.
Out our front windshield, we had this view.
In our campsite, A-12, we noticed elk droppings all over.
The office said that they often have elk wander into the campground. We’re hopeful! Apparently, they hang out in our campsite when it’s empty. Auggie found the ground squirrel’s hideout near the sewer connection.
The campground is fairly empty. I thought there would be more weekend campers here, but I guess not. We are here for 8 nights, so we got the weekly rate plus our Good Sam’s discount. After getting set up, we just chilled after the drive. It was beautiful, winding through the mountains along the Big Thompson River, but Bob needed to relax a little. Auggie needed a rest too.
This very cool, old RV was in the campground. We love to see this kind of stuff.
The campground had very nice restrooms and a pool, but the pool is closed due to COVID. Around 3:30, some rain moved in over the mountains. With it came some wind and thunder. Maybe the rain would wash off some of the road dust.
It didn’t last long and then the sun came out. We had dinner and took our evening walk to check out the campground to see who’s here. They don’t allow campfires in the RV area–only in the tent section–so that’s kind of a bummer, but this place would go up like a tinder box with any sparks at all. The sun set behind the mountains, but it stayed light for quite awhile. We sat enjoying our view of the mountains while listening to music. We can’t get enough of our view!
After looking at the mountain for so long, we noticed a face in the snow. Can you see it?
As darkness fell, the sky lit up with lightning off in the distance. Tomorrow we’ll make plans for our stay here in Estes Park and and a visit to RMNP.