Saturday, November 10, 2012

RMNP: November 2012

You wouldn't necessarily think a day where the weather forecast called for variable clouds, temperatures in the 30s and occasional snow showers would be ideal for a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. Then again, you also don't get to choose which Saturday your daughter doesn't have a volleyball game. So up to RMNP this morning Taryn and I went!

Hard to believe that just three days ago I was sweating under the hot sun down at the Palmer Red Rock Loop.  Conditions today were more what you'd expect for November in Colorado.  Taryn was so upset at being cold she was apparently going to attack me with a small piece of dead wood.

The snow was far from steady.  In fact, when the sun came out things quickly melted.  Taryn was happy to find the same rock she and Zak had posed on when we here over Labor Day weekend, and repeat the moment.

Alluvial Fan
Fall River was still flowing briskly over Alluvial Fan.

Sheep Lakes
Sheep Lakes had no sheep this morning, nor was there even that much lake.  When a snow squall was blowing in it just looked pretty bleak and inhospitable.

Mule deer buck
We drove by a group of six mule deer does and one buck by Beaver Ponds.  The buck crossed the road at one point but the does didn't, and he clearly wanted to get back over to the other side.  But a barking dog in the car of someone who had stopped to take pictures spooked him and he bounded off.  I'm not sure why pets are allowed in the park at all if they're not permitted on any of the trails or in the backcountry.  Even unintentionally, that dog clearly disturbed the wildlife.

Sprague Lake
We actually spent nearly an hour at the Fall River Visitor Center when we first arrived, which was unprecedented for us.  We typically stop just to use the bathrooms and so I can get my passport stamped.  But with no particular destination or itinerary today we took our time and enjoyed the various exhibits.

I asked one of the rangers what she recommended doing in conditions like today's, and she suggested a walk around Sprague Lake.  Turned out to be a splendid idea.  We weren't really looking for a long hike, but did want to stretch our legs a bit.  The half-mile nature trail was the perfect answer.

Sprague Lake
This is a neat transition time in the park from autumn to winter.  Ice is just starting to form on the lakes and streams, creating interesting patterns in the water.  And there's enough snow in many places to give everything a touch of white without there being so thick a blanket that the landscape becomes featureless.

Bull elk
We didn't see any elk in the park, but driving back on 36 we passed a group of six ginormous males just chilling in somebody's yard.  A nice reminder that nature is not a Disney attraction where the hippos always pop up at exactly the time and place you want them to.  But if you keep your eyes open, you can see something special just about anywhere.

As always, I'm already looking forward to my next trip back.  Odds are, it will involve snowshoes!


Orontes said...

Great pictures, as always. I just want to say that for some reason whenever you title it RMNP, in my head I'm expecting pictures of Royal Mounted Police from Canada.
I don't know why.

SteveHarbula said...

Sadly, no Dudley Do-Right sightings. :(