May 10, 2018

My Magical Spot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (National Parks Trip #1)


This post represents another installment in the series detailing the first of our three cross country National Parks camping trips with travel trailer in tow.

The northwestern corner of Wyoming is grand and glorious country and it was with no small amount of regret that we pulled out of the Colter Bay Village RV Park.  The Teton Range would be in our rearview mirror as we made our way south and east into Colorado.  Our next stop (and final National Park of the trip) would be Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and our itinerary definitely included a visit to one of the most magical places in the Park.

Before I continue on with our RMNP story, let me tell you about my “Moose Quest.”  (This is a planned digression, so don’t call me on it.)  It is well known within our family circle, that I’m on a quest to see a moose.  (Deer, black bears, foxes and coyotes are common in the area in which we live but, alas, no moose.)  Family legend has it that I’ve never seen a moose and, no matter what I do, I never will.  This is so not true!  I’ve seen real, live moose four times that I can recall – three times in Alaska and once on our way to RMNP.  As for Alaska, I saw one moose way in the distance and only very briefly from the window of an Alaska Railroad train car, one from the bus window while on a wildlife tour of Denali National Park and one young moose up close and personal at a wildlife rehabilitation facility.

A close encounter with a young moose in Alaska

So I have, in fact, actually seen moose on several occasions.  Alan, however, chooses to remember our New Hampshire vacation when we spent hours cruising back and forth along the Kancamagus Highway - the land it passes through is, allegedly highly populated with moose – without seeing any moose at all.  Not.  One.  Single.  Moose.  I know that moose are incredibly large (they run from 5’ to 6.5’ tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 1,800 lbs.) and dangerous (they never “bluff charge” and can run up to 35 miles per hour over short distances).  Since my Mama didn’t raise a fool, I can assure you that my Moose Quest involves seeing a moose in the wild at a reasonable distance and from the safety of my vehicle.  I would love to shoot some decent photos without the need for a 300 mm telephoto lens, but I definitely do NOT want to meet said moose by accident – as in having 1,800 pounds of moose meat roll up over my hood and through my windshield.  I have a moose wish, not a death wish.

We were very fortunate to spot two moose on our travels between the Tetons and RMNP.  I don’t remember who saw them first and will gloss over that part because, before you know it, everybody will be claiming the honor.  I will say, however, that both kids have “eagle eyes” and it wouldn’t surprise me if it really was one of them.  The two moose we spotted were grazing in the brush down a small embankment on the side of the road.  The beauty of road tripping and RV travel is that you can simply find a safe spot to pull off at any time – which we did – and we simply enjoyed watching the moose munching away.  If the plural of mouse is derived by trading the two vowels in the middle for a different one and exchanging the consonant that follows for one with a similar sound, shouldn’t the plural of moose also be "mice" - or, perhaps, "mace" or “mece?”  (That was a digression from the digression.  No comments, please.)  I have no hope that a moose will come wandering through our local mountains, so I am setting my sights on the many miles we’ll cover when exploring Alaska next year.  The Moose Quest continues.  I’ll keep you posted.

Moose in the middle!

Back to RMNP . . . Our home base for exploring the Park was the Riverview RV Park & Campground in Loveland, perched at the edge of the Big Thompson River.  It's a Good Sam park, as well as a Passport America park, and a lovely spot.  We enjoyed our brief stay there but that was over ten years ago and I know the campground was severely impacted by the flood of 2013.  Should you wish to camp at the Riverview, you may want to check more recent reviews. 

Our site at the Riverview RV Park & Campground - Loveland, Colorado

I’ve often remarked that each and every one of our National Parks has its own characteristics and personality.  Because the area in which Alan and I grew up has many trees and a wide variety of them, and includes some very heavily forested areas, I’m not used to mountains without trees. So, the alpine areas above the tree line in RMNP are not my most favorite type of terrain.  I love the park for its amazing views, its singing waters and its wildlife (we had great views of elk and bighorn sheep while we were there) but, I’ll be honest - it’s not on my Top 5 List.

A peaceful scene in Rocky Mountain National Park

That being said, there is one magical spot in RMNP that I will return to time and time again.  I loved it when Alan and I visited this Park on our honeymoon all those years ago and I loved being there with the kids on this National Parks trip.  That special spot?  Bear Lake.  I cannot tell you what it is about this tiny lake that appeals to me so much.  I think, perhaps, it’s the color of the water and the way it blends in with the trees around the lake; I think, too, that it’s the way it feels - like a secret, hidden gem that no one else knows about even though it’s a very popular attraction in the Park.  I do know that the short trail that circles Bear Lake is perfect for little kid legs and that the lake is the setting for one of my most favorite photos of our son - a grinning, ball-capped, 13 year old – as well as the setting for one of the best family photos of this particular trip.  But I guess it doesn’t really matter why Bear Lake is such a special place to me; it just is.  And I know I’ll be back.

My beloved Bear Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park

Our friends, Mary and Dave, live outside of Denver and we had hoped to connect with them while we were at RMNP.  Sadly, it was not meant to be, as they were traveling in the mid-west at the same time we were in Colorado.  But what if we could adjust our itinerary and our route to meet up with them while we were both on the road toward home?   The end result is definitely a good subject for a future post.  So please do come back and visit!

4 comments:

  1. Hello Mary. I recently discovered your blog and have really enjoyed reading about your camping adventures..Your passion for camping and adventure shines through in your writing. My wife (Angela) and I have recently retired and are looking forward to camping as one of our main activities. Although we did camp ( small trailer, tent, popup) several years ago with our now grown children, we are on the "hunt" for the best type, size etc. of camping setup for us ( 65, good health ) From what I can tell from some of you pictures it looks like you have chosen a trailer size and type that we are considering. Because you are such an experienced camper, I would be very interested in how your setup has worked for you and why you decided on this particular setup. Thanks for any insight you can provide and again congratulations on a great blog ....Johnny

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    1. Johnny,thank you so much for your kind words - and congratulations on your retirement! Please do check out my post from March 23rd ("Today is Our First Anniversary!") and you'll find all the reasons why Alan and I favor travel trailers over other types of RV's. Our first trailer was a 30' Jayco with bunks that worked perfectly for camping with our two kids. That's the trailer you see in most of the photos I've posted so far. Our new travel trailer is a Creek Side made by Outdoors RV Manufacturing that's between 31' and 32' long with a rear living set up. It has a sleeper sofa and dinette on the street side and two recliners in the rear by a big back window. Alan and I both love this set up. The many windows in this rig make it feel more like you're actually camping outdoors and we find that we make excellent use of the recliners. If the rear living setup appeals to you but you would prefer something a little smaller, there are a number of travel trailers on the market that have seating at the rear and only one other feature like a sofa or dinette on the street side. That does shorten the length and reduce the weight - something to keep in mind when considering a tow vehicle. I hope this info helps and, although I'm certainly no expert, I'd be happy to answer any other questions you may have - feel free to email me directly at reflectionsaroundthecampfire(at)gmail(dot)com. Please note that I currently have limited access to email but I'll certainly get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you, again, for your wonderful compliments and best wishes to you and Angela as you embark upon what I'm sure will be many enjoyable and memorable camping adventures during your retirement!

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  2. Mary, I just finished reading your excellent post from March that answered most of my questions concerning your travel trailer selection. It sounds like you made a great choice. Thanks, Johnny

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    1. So glad it helped, Johnny! The perfect RV for you and your wife is out there just waiting for you to find it. In fact, I think I hear it calling your name right now . . . Good luck with your search! And welcome to Reflections Around the Campfire - I hope you'll come back soon and often!

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