The Ascend to 12,183 Feet

Today we woke up at 8 am and had breakfast at Burger King. After breakfast, we started towards the Rocky Mountains around 9 am. Our journey began around 5,280 feet. We arrived in Golden, CO, right on the edge of the foothills at 10 am. The foothills were beautiful. The trees were very green. We also drove by the Coors Brewery. We drove through some small hills and mountains and followed a creek for about 10 miles before we arrived at a town called Black Hawk. It was a small town with 3 huge casinos.

After Black Hawk, we continued our drive towards the mountains. The road soon turned into the Peak to Peak Scenic Highway. Along the way, we drove through lots of little towns and even saw some schools, like Little Bear Elementary. After driving for about 30 minutes, we were able to see some of the taller mountains and even saw some snow up at the top! By this time, we were about 8,000 feet high. We stopped along the side of the road that was close to a creek. We took some pretty photos and I also touched the water! It was very cold!

We kept going up and down in elevation because we would climb a mountain then come down to a valley and so on. We continued on to Meeker Park and were able to see our first ‘real’ mountain, Mount Meeker, which is 13,911 feet. We also saw Longs Peak, which is 14,259 feet and is one of the Colorado fourteeners.

We continued on and stopped at a lake called Lily Lake. The scenery around the lake was absolutely stunning!! We continued driving and passed another lake called Mary’s Lake before stopping at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to get a map and go to the bathroom. We continued and entered the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) at the Beaver Meadows entrance.

We decided to take the Old Fall River Road up to the highest point on Trail Ridge Road. The road is a one-way uphill road and is only open from July – September. The road was kind of scary because it was just a dirt and gravel road and there were no guard rails as we climbed the mountain. The road gets its name from the multiple waterfalls that can be seen along the way. We took the road for 9 miles, which took about an hour, and climbed up to the top.

Near the top is the Alpine Visitor Center, which is 11,796 feet. We stopped and had lunch and did a little gift shopping. We then continued onto Trail Ridge Road and soon reached the highest point on the road, 12,183 feet. The Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in the United States. We also saw a herd of moose!!

Near the highest point is a parking lot with a trail leading up to the top of the peak. It was the Tundra Communities Trail. My dad and I decided to walk up it while my mom waited in the car. We walked about a half a mile, but it felt like we walked 5 miles. The air is 35% thinner up there. I definitely felt winded. We didn’t make it quite to the top, but we stopped at a place called Mushroom Rock and were greeted with a gorgeous view. The wind was blowing at about 50 miles an hour and it was only 55 degrees!

We headed back to the car and continued down the mountains. We went though the town of Estes Park, which is a small resort town and drove back to Denver. When we arrived in Denver, we drove by Coors Field and headed to the 16th Street Mall.

The 16th Street Mall is a pedestrian only street with lots of shopping. We went to a Ross clothing store, some gift shops, and then had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and acquired my shot glass! We then headed back to our hotel and now we are relaxing. We have to get up early to catch our 8 am flight to San Francisco.

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