Sunday, January 17, 2016

RMNP: December 2015

I devoted all of New Year's Eve day to visiting one of my favorite places -- Rocky Mountain National Park. Normally I like to make sure to catch the sunrise on these outings. But after three straight days of being up before dawn, I needed a bit of a break. So I slept in until about 8:30 and took a leisurely drive up to Estes Park.

Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
This was the first time in my last several visits spanning a couple of years that I actually had sunny skies.  They made views like this one overlooking Horseshoe Park that much more beautiful.

Magpie, Rocky Mountain National Park
The magpies at the overlook must get fed a fair amount.  They were vocal, and not particularly afraid of the visitors.

Sheep Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
The windswept snow on the shore of Sheep Lake adds some nice texture to an already gorgeous view.

Frozen Alluvial Fan, Rocky Mountain National Park
I always like visiting Alluvial Fan.  On this day, the bright sun and heavy snow made it so I didn't care for the broader views of the waterfall.  But looking closely at some of the spots of ice revealed some interesting abstract visuals like this one ...

Frozen Alluvial Fan, Rocky Mountain National Park
... and this one.

Many Parks Curve, Rocky Mountain National Park
Even with Trail Ridge Road not open all the way to the top, it's worth the drive to get this view from Many Parks Curve.

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
The clouds got thicker as the afternoon wore on.  Moraine Park itself was still clear, but it looked like snow was falling in the mountains to the west.

Bear Lake Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
I next drove to Bear Lake, and pulled off the road when I saw the sun poking through some trees.  The snow was up to my waist, but I wanted to get this shot.

Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
Bear Lake didn't offer anything special.  So I returned to Sprague Lake and did the walk around the perimeter.  Others had clearly taken a more direct approach to reach the opposite side.

Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
Stepping back from the shore to get some rocks in the foreground and introduce the bridge on the left.  A father and son started the trek across to provide some nice context.

Mule Deer Doe, Rocky Mountain National Park
Wildlife viewing was very limited.  No bighorn sheep, a couple of small herds of distant elk, a lone coyote also fairly far off.  Then as dusk drew near, the mule deer started to come out to feed.  The low sun provided nice light on this doe ...

Mule Deer Buck, Rocky Mountain National Park
... and this buck.

I stuck around for the sunset, but it didn't yield much.  So I made a quick stop at Oskar Blues in Lyons for some chicken wings and an Old Chub before returning home.

Another great day in my favorite national park!

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