I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!
We had a very busy end of the year…. with the holidays, moving our daughter and traveling to FL the day after Christmas, it was a bit stressful to say the least ….so, I’m glad to finally see things slow down so I can get back into a routine!
So, let’s get started on Day 2 in RMNP!
Read Day 1 here
Before our trip to RMNP, I had read about a place called Cinnamon’s Bakery.
Since my hubby and I LOVE cinnamon rolls, I knew I had to add it to the itinerary!
I read that the tiny bakery would quickly sell out of their delicious cinnamon rolls so it was important to arrive early!
The bakery opened at 7:30 am so we arrived around 7:15 and there was already a line of about 10 people!
The owners opened the doors early and we quickly made it to the front of the line.
Thankfully, they had plenty left when we got to the counter to order!
We ordered a 1/2 dozen cinnamon rolls ($3.50 ea) & 1 pecan sticky bun ($4.50 ea) & 3 coffees ($3 ea).
We then took them back to the hotel and quickly started enjoying our goodies!
However, I was very disappointed ….they were really hard and just didn’t seem fresh. I’ve definitely had much better cinnamon rolls!
After we ate, we headed out to start our day in the park.
Shortly after entering the park, we spotted 2 huge mule deer!
After taking a few pics, we continued our drive to our first stop, the Alluvial Fan.
The drive into the park is so beautiful!
The Alluvial Fan is a fan-shaped area of disturbance that was created on July 15, 1982, when the Lawn Lake Dam above the area gave way, flooding the Park and the nearby town of Estes Park with more than 200 million gallons of water.
Enormous boulders were displaced, and trees and earth were ripped from the ground killing 3 people that were camping in the park.
Once we arrived to the parking area, we walked the short trail to the fan.
The trail is a 0.7 mile out and back that also features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels.
It was amazing to see these huge boulders that were moved by the rushing waters of the dam so many years earlier.
We visited the area for about 20-30 mins and then headed to our next stop, the Old Fall River Road.
The Old Fall River Road is the first auto route in Rocky Mountain National Park offering access to the park’s high country and linked the east side of the park near Estes Park with Grand Lake on the west side.
The road is a combination of gravel and dirt. It’s one-way uphill and punctuated by switchbacks & is 11 miles long. The road leads travelers to Fall River Pass, 11,796 feet above sea level.
The posted speed limit is 15 miles per hour, a clear indication that a journey up Old Fall River Road is not for the impatient.
Getting ready to enter the Fall River Rd….
Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road so we never felt rushed.
The drive was beautiful and one of the highlights of our trip! I highly recommend this drive if visiting the park.
I never felt scared on this drive even though there were no guardrails….there was plenty of room without being too close to the edge.
The views were truly spectacular!
We stopped off at Chasm Falls…
There is a parking area at the falls if you want to take the short, steep walk to the bottom of the falls. The falls are about 30 ft high.
After this short stop, we continued our drive while I continued taking hundreds of pics!
We saw several marmots during our drive!
Read here about the different kinds of animals that are found in the park
We passed the Chapin Pass trailhead…
As we continued our drive, we got closer and closer to the Alpine Visitor Center…that’s where the road ends and then puts you back on the main road through the park.
Right before we arrived to the visitor center, we pulled over at small parking area and got out and took some pics.
We then continued our drive to the Visitor’s Center…once we arrived, we decided to stop for lunch. This time we finally found a parking space but it was still super busy!!
The visitor center is more than 2 miles above sea level! There is no utility or phone lines that connect it to the outside world. A diesel generator supplies power.
Each day sewage is hauled away by a sewage truck and they get their water from a dam that sits below the visitor center that collects snow melt which is then treated and stored nearby!
The logs on the roof protect the roof from sustaining wind damage as winter winds can gust to over 150 mph! The elevation is 11,796 ft.
The poles surrounding the visitors center serve as markers so in the spring plow drivers know where the roads and buildings are as snow drifts as high as 20+ feet are not uncommon.
The views from the visitor center were incredible!
Shots from inside the visitors center
We then headed to the gift shop to look for a few souvenirs….￼￼
After walking around the different displays in the center & purchasing our souvenirs, we headed to find some food.
They offered a few hot and cold items….we opted for 3 pre made sandwiches ..they were $10 each!
As we were leaving, I spotted some of my favorite candy so I had to purchase a few before we left…I love Hammond’s candy! They are actually based in Denver and opened in 1920.
After we ate, we left the visitor’s center and headed to our next stop, Bear Lake.
Look at all the cars trying to get into the parking lot!!
We didn’t make any stops along the way, as we had already seen this part of the park so I just snapped pics as we were driving.
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the breathtaking views!
We finally arrived to our next stop, Bear Lake.
This is one of the busiest areas of the park! When we tried to visit this area during our first day in the park, we were turned away by park rangers because it was too full.
UPDATE: You can either get a reservation for the entire park including Bear Lake Road for 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., or the park with no Bear Lake Road access from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Outside of these peak hours, you do not need a reservation. Click here & here for reservations.
Thankfully, we were able to get in this time but we had to take a shuttle to the trailhead.
On this trail, you can hike to several lakes…some of those being Bear, Nymph, Dream, and Emerald.
Click here for hikes in the park and here & here to read about the waterfalls in the park.
We first hiked the short trail to Bear Lake…this is one of the most popular trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, year round.
Frequent benches and resting places are provided, with lots of opportunities for peak views.
As usual, I took way too many pics!
We spotted a snake in the water!
We then headed to the next lake, Nymph. We had to backtrack on the trail and head the other direction to get to Nymph Lake.
It was only 1/2 mi hike to the lake …
This lake was beautiful!
Waterlilies graced the surface of this deep blue lake, and Longs Peak, Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak rise above it.
From Nymph Lake, we continued on another 0.6 miles to Dream Lake.
The views were stunning!
We passed a small waterfall on the trail
And crossed two small “bridges”
And then we were graced with this beauty!
Dream Lake was named for its dreamlike qualities; the way it reflects its surroundings like a mirror image, and how it looks different from every outlook.
I took wayyy too many pics here!
The water was so clear you could see the fish swimming in the lake!
You can hike another 0.7 miles from here to Emerald Lake but we decided to turn around and head back.
Tip: A 10 min drive from the Bear Lake Trailhead, you will find Sprague Lake – Moose are often spotted here. It’s less than a mile round trip. Click here to read about where you can find Moose in the park.
We stopped several times on the way down to snap pics of the beautiful views
As we were exiting the park, we spotted the park’s sign so we had to stop and get our picture in front of the sign! You can’t visit a park and not have your picture made in front of the sign! 😉
Later that evening, we headed to find something to eat in Estes Park….this place was extremely crowded and it wasn’t easy trying to find parking!
After finally getting parked, we spotted Penelope’s Burgers & Fries….since my hubby is a huge burger fan, we decided to eat here..not to mention it was world famous & voted the #1 burger in Estes Park so how could we go wrong?! 😉
We had to order at the counter and then go find a table….
They offered a variety of options from beef, elk, buffalo and turkey burgers to french dips, patty melts, grilled chicken sandwiches, club sandwiches, etc….so they have plenty to choose from.
I decided on the french dip while my hubby and daughter ordered a burger.
We also ordered the fried macaroni and cheese bites….yum!
My hubby and daughter liked their burgers but the french dip was very average….guess I should have ordered the burger!
After dinner, we called it a night!
Thanks for reading & I hope this helps you plan your own trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Click here for the 25 best things to do in Estes Park, here for the best restaurants and here for the best hotels.
Click here for campgrounds in the park & Click here & here for the best places to spot wildlife in the park
Read Day 1 here.