Rocky Mountain National Park loop

Boulder - Lake Granby - Estes Park - Boulder

Loop around Rocky Mountain National Park, from Boulder to Black Hawk to Empire to Estes Park and Lyons, and back to Boulder.

Not much photography this week. I figured the trails would be pretty crowded with Labor Day Weekenders grabbing their last handfuls of summer before the kids go back into school.

So instead I took a drive. A sort of big loop around and through Rocky Mountain National Park. I left Boulder around 6:00 AM. We've overpopulated and overdeveloped such that the names of places and streets become ironic: so many places named after birds and animals probably haven't had a trace of their namesakes for fifty or a hundred years. However, it's probably going to be millennia before Boulder's Canyon Boulevard loses its aptness. The street funnels you right into Boulder Canyon - a deep, deep gash carved by the creek that runs from Barker Reservoir into the City of Boulder.

I drove through the canyon towards Nederland, stopping to snap an old cabin and some thistles on the side of the road.

Cabin and thistles

Cabin and thistles.

Climbing south out of Nederland, near the Los Lagos reservoirs, I came upon mist rising off the surface of this pond as the sun started to hit the trees on the opposite shore.

Mists rise of the warm waters of a pond as the sun strikes the treeline.

"Sea smoke", the mist that forms over bodies of water as cold air passes over warmer water.

Ducks enjoy the warm sun.

Ducks enjoy the warm sun after a cool night in the mountains.

Out of the roadside village of Rollinsville, I snapped the creek reflecting the brightening eastern sky as the sun reached the flanks of Starr Peak.

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Creek near Rollinsville and Starr Peak.

The city of Black Hawk, one of Colorado's old mining towns, looked interesting, but the massive casino hotels all but covered the approaches to town - I drove on through, down to Interstate 70, where I shot this photo of Stanley Mine buildings before I turned north on Rt. 40 towards Lake Granby and Grand Lake, where I had a nice breakfast at the Grand Lake Lodge.

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Stanley Mine buildings.

Breakfast at the Grand Lake Lodge.

Breakfast with a view.

Entering Rocky Mountain National Park, I drove through Kawuneeche Valley [Coyote Valley] before climbing up onto Trail Ridge Road. Lots of traffic up there, and lots of cars at all of the stopping points. I stopped for a few more photos before crossing the Continental Divide and descending into Estes Park and turning back southward for Boulder.

Trail Ridge road near the Continental Divide.

Trail Ridge Road near the Continental Divide, looking back westward towards the 12,000-foot Gore Range.

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Looking across Forest Canyon towards Mt. Julian and Mt. Ida.