Friday, September 26, 2008

Sprague Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Sprague Lake is on Bear Lake Road, about a mile before Bear Lake. On this particular day, we were on our way to the Bear Lake area, but since this was early on a Fall Sunday the parking lot was full. Bear Lake is a very popular area for tourists because there are several trailheads there, including the most popular one in Rocky Mountain National Park - The Bear Lake Trailhead.

We had never stopped at Sprague Lake on any of our previous park visits, so we decided to check it out.

Sprague Lake, at an elevation of 8,200 feet, is a very pretty place. At 13 acres, the lake is fairly large considering the elevation. It is crystal clear and shallow. Trout can be spotted easily.

The walk around the lake is a little less than a mile.

Sprague Lague was named for Abner Sprague, who owned and operated a lodge here from 1910 to 1940. Sprague created the lake by damming up a small stream. Signs around the lake describe a little of what the lake looked like when it was a private resort. Sprague was proud that his guests left refreshed and rested, unlike those tourists who buzz around from place to place in a hurry, truly enjoying little of what they see, and then arriving home more exhausted than when they left.

We didn't see a lot of wildlife at the lake, except chipmunks and ducks.

After walking around the lake, we took a path to the right. It soon became apparent that we were walking on an animal trail, probably beaten down by deer and elk. We found a very peaceful place by a stream and sat down. The only sounds were heard was the water. A squirrel decided to check us out. He ran up and down the stream, stopping numerous times just in front of us. I'd focus my camera, then he'd be gone - every time.

For information on Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park visit:

Estes Park

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Old Fall River Road - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Old Fall River Road is only open from around July 4th to around the end of October. It is a eleven mile, one way dirt road with a speed limit of 15 miles an hour. It runs from Endovaley to the Alpine Visitor Center at Fall River Pass. Many park visitors miss this road because they come when the road is closed, or they drive right past it staying on the paved road leading to Bear Lake or Trail Ridge Road. The scenery along the road is among the most spectacular in the park, so it shouldn't be missed if possible.

Chasm Falls is a good place to stop and spend awhile. There are hiking trails up the first part of the falls and there are places where you can easily step from rock to rock in the water.

Like the rest of Rocky Mountain National Park, elk is often spotted here. This bull is still in velvet.

Chipmunks can always been scurrying in and out of the rocks.

Old Fall River Road reaches an elevation of 11.796 feet. Near the end of the road, just before reaching the Alpine Visitor Center, there are several very pretty lakes. The snow pack never entirely melts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Alberta Falls at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

On this trip to the park we visited the Bear Lake area. On the way there, we saw a black bear walking parallel to the road for a short distance, and then dart into the forest. We have been to the park many times and this was the first bear that we have spotted. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my camera positioned fast enough for a photo.

Instead of walking around Bear Lake, we decided to take the trail to Alberta Falls. While all of Rocky Mountain National Park is well worth visiting, this area is particularly beautiful. The trail leading to the Falls from Bear Lake, is almost too pretty to be natural. Ferns, aspens and rock formations line the trail.

About 10 minutes into the hike, we saw a bull elk and three females (cows) next to the trail. The bull was no more than forty feet from us and the cows were closer.

Fall is rutting season for the bulls, and this one was attempting to prove how tough he was by tearing up some small trees and making loud noises (bugling). It was quite impressive.

After about ten minutes the cows took off, leaving the bull, who finally decided to cross the trail and move on. Why he went in a different direction than the cows, only he knows.

The falls are very pretty. They can be reached easier than from Bear Lake, but the hike from Bear Lake is a trip worth taking. It is about about a 30 minute walk to the Falls from the lake - a good bit longer if you stop to view wildlife. The trip there is mostly downhill, back - you guessed it. The high altitude can make it seem a lot longer if you're not accustomed to high altitude hiking.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pineridge Natural Area - Fort Collins, Colorado

I don't believe that any city in the country can match Fort Collin's trails and park systems.

Trails, perfect for biking and hiking, criss-cross the city, sometimes linking with open, natural areas.

Pineridge natural area is located in southwest corner of Fort Collins. There is a nice dog park at the end of Horsetooth Rood that is adjacent to one of the Pineridge trails.

We sometimes let our dogs run in the park and then take them walking on the trail.

Dixon Reservoir is located within Pineridge Natural Area. It is a very good place for a picnic and some fishing.

A total of seven miles cover the Pineridge Natural Area.

Another very popular recreation area, Horsetooth Reservoir, borders the south side of Pineridge, featuring a larger reservoir with more trails and park areas.