Once we were off the Cascade Falls trails Keltin and I decided to make our way to Estes Park by way of Trail Ridge Road. The Highway to the Sky is 48 miles long and takes about two hours to drive due to the road grade and switch backs. For Keltin and I it took about three hours because we love to stop and take pictures. Trail Ridge Roads has lots of pull offs that overlook spectacular landscapes. A decent number of the over looks are above tree line. The alpine tundra is beautiful and has more colors than you can imagine. Yes there is green, but also reds and yellows. These are not the shades of dying plants either, no, these grasses and flowers are vibrant and alive.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit a tundra, any tundra, please stay on the path. Tundra ecosystems are fragile things and the plants that you step on are probably older that you are. These plants and the stunted trees right at tree line can take centuries to grow. The animals that live on the tundra fulfill a specific niche. We humans just tend to trample things. Please respect the beauty and sanctity of the tundra ecosystem.
After several hours on Trail Ridge Road we made our way into Estes Park. We were there on a Monday and during the weekly Monday Art Market. This is where local artisans can show off and sell their art in an outdoor market. There was everything from pottery to jewelry to homemade lotions. One of the vendors was a local photographer and we fell in love with his work and bought some beautiful prints. We didn’t stay in Estes Park long, there was a long drive before us and night would be coming on soon. Despite being on Trail Ridge Road at other points during our trip this was our only foray into Estes Park.
There was one more adventure before we got off Trail Ridge Road that night but it deserves its own story. Happy travels.
Photos by Laci and Keltin