the wandering chick
...Trail Ridge Road
Rocky Mtn's trail to the sky - yikes!
Trail Ridge Road view of mountains

I had trepidations about driving this road, Rocky Mtn National Park's most northern route across the park from east to west. Without a doubt, I knew I had to experience it...whether doing the driving myself or taking a tour.

But when there are lookouts and such, you kinda want to be on your own schedule and not have someone tell you it's time to move on." Plus, I wanted to go further on the west side than a tour would have probably taken me. AND!!! I would not have seen the MOOSE had I not driven myself.

So, off we friend and I stomach churning just a little. I don't like heights, and roads without guardrails make me quiver. I get bruises on the inside of my knees!

Well, let me tell you: It wasn't too bad. It was so absolutely gorgeous. Every overlook had a different view and was more stunning than the next. And the road, well yes, there were areas where I hugged the center line, but it was a nicely paved road and wide enough for two cars. I'm not sure I'd want to do it again, but am certainly glad I did it once.

So, here are the pictures of the Trail Ridge Road, the second highest paved highway in the U.S. (I'll be doing the Mt. Evans highway, the highest, within the next few weeks. )

Trail Ridge Road view of mountains
Trail Ridge Road view of mountains
Mtn view from Trail Ridge Road
The Trail Ridge Roads takes off from the town of Estes Park, and so does the Fall River Road which can be seen in this photo. The upper road is the Fall River Road, a 9-mile one-way dirt road that ends at the Alpin Visitor Center on the Trail Ridge Road. From what I saw, the Fall River Road is even scarier than the Trail Ridge. This photo was taken from the Rainbow Curve stop, one of 12 stops along the route.
View from the Forest Canyon Overlook on the Trail Ridge Road
At different locations on the Trail Ridge Road, there are overlooks. Many of them have short walking trails, others have longer trails. They all have beautiful panoramic views. This stop (and in the photos below) is the Forest Canyon Overlook.
Terrah Tomah Mtn
Terrah Tomah Mountain, 12,718 feet, can be seen from the Forest Canyon Overlook.
View from the Forest Canyon Overlook on the Trail Ridge Road
View from the Forest Canyon Overlook on the Trail Ridge Road
View from the Cut Rock  Overlook on the Trail Ridge Road
Gorgeous vistas can be seen from the Rock Cut stop at 12,110 feet. This is a tundra protection area. Paved trails lead to rock formations that are fun to climb.
From the Rock Cut stop on Trail Ridge Road
From the Rock Cut stop on Trail Ridge Road
The view of the Trail Ridge Road from Rock Cut. Right: a mushroom formation at the Rock Cut stop.
View from the Lava Cliffs Overlook
Lava Cliffs
The Lava Cliffs Overlook offers views of volcanic rock that formed millions of years ago. To the left is a closeup of the cliffs.
The Gore Range
View from the Alpine Visitor Center
This stop, the Gore Range Overlook, offers views of the Gore Range which is 60 miles away. The area between Lava Cliffs and Gore Range is the highest point of the Trail Ridge Road at 12, 183 feet.
This view from the Alpine Visitor Center is of a large bowl that has been filled with glacial ice many times in the past.
The Medicine Bow Overlook
Elk laze at the Medicine Bow Overlook
Elk laze in the pasture at the Medicine Bow Overlook. In the distance (in the pictures to the right) are the Medicine Bow Mountains in Wyoming.
The Continental Divide at Milner Pass
The Medicine Bow Overlook
The Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide at Milner Pass. The photo to the right is of Lake Irene at Milner Pass.
Grand Lake
Lake Irene at Milner Pass
Grand Lake and Grand Lake Village as seen from the Grand Lake Lodge
Columbine flower
flower box at Grand Lake Lodge
Columbine, Colorado's state flower
A flower box at the Grand Lake Lodge
moose on the Trail Ridge Road
moose on the Trail Ridge Road
Just north of Grand Lake, the Trail Ridge Road meets the Colorado River. It was in ths part of the park that we happened upon two moose off the side of the road. We, along with a couple dozen other people and a ranger, watched them graze for nearly half an hour.
moose on the Trail Ridge Road
moose on the Trail Ridge Road
The Colorado River near the Trail Ridge Road

To view more photos of Rocky Mountain Natinal Park and the town of Estes Park, click on one of the links below. A link on that page will lead you to the others.

Estes Park

Rocky Mountain NP hikes

Route 7 highlights

Or, you may wish to return to the Colorado home page,

Or, to choose a location below

Please visit some of my other travel locations. Feel free to email me if you have questions or comments.

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Grand Lake Lodge porch
the lobby fireplace, Grand Lake Lodge
Grand Lake Lodge swimming pool and Grand Lake

Grand Lake Lodge is the brainchild of Roe Emery, a pioneer in Colorado tourism. Construction began in April of 1919. Using lodgepole pines from the area, it was completed a year later. It sits high on a ledge overlooking Grand Lake, Grand Lake Village and, to its right, Shadow Mountain Lake.

In 1973 a fire at the lodge did extensive damage and closed the hotel for seven years until the painstaking job of refurbishing it was complelted.

The photo above is of the lobby and its unique and cozy fireplace. The photo to the right shows the lodge's front porch, fondly called "America's Favorite Front Porch." It overlooks a 'grand' view.

altitude sign of warning on lodge steps
boat dock on Grand Lake
Someone with a sassy sense of humor put this sign near the steps leading up to the lodge's lobby.
Canoers on Grand Lake
Grand Lake Village shops

Grand Lake Village is definitely geared toward the tourists. Its wooden boardwalk runs the length of Grand Avenue for several blocks, offering shops, some of them souvenir-type, eateries and sporting goods stores, to name a few.

Grand Lake Village is just off Highway 34, a continuation of the Trail Ridge Road.

Benches overlooking Grand Lake
A block off the hustle and bustle of the shopping district, one can come sit and enjoy a more serene view.
benches at Grand Lake
shops in Grand Lake Village
Shadow Mtn Lake Bridge
Shadow Mtn Lake
To the west of Grand Lake is the larger Shadow Mountain Lake. By looking, one wouldn't realize it's actually two lakes. They are separated by a small strip of land. This bridge spans the canal where the two lakes meet.
Shadow Mtn Lake bridge