Rocky Mountain National Park, Camping Food Ideas

Our last camping trip took us to Moraine Park in majestic Rocky Mountain National Park.  Located about 2 1/2 hours northwest of Denver, we’re truly lucky to have such a beautiful and sought after vacation spot so close to home. 

To get to RMNP we head north out of Denver to Loveland then turn west through Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park. Sound familiar? Some of you may remember that name from the tragedy, the Big Thompson Flood. On July 31, 1976 a storm dumped nearly 8 inches of rain in one hour, and up to 12 inches of rain in just a few hours, causing the event that claimed 144 lives and destroyed more than 400 homes. 30,000 cubic feet per second and more than 13 million gallons of water per minute swept through the canyon that night.

This was before I lived in Colorado. Vacationing the next year I drove through the canyon the very week it was reopened. I’ll never forget the devastation that was still visible. To this day when we make that drive, I solemnly look at the steep canyon walls with respect, look for the few homes and businesses amongst the rebuilds that survived, and feel heartsick at the horror all of those people went through that night. Just breaks my heart to think of how scared they must have been.

Most were vacationers. Many that survived were forced to climb those canyon walls to be plucked off the mountain top to safety by helicopter the next day. If you’re interested in more take a look at this website. http://www.casfm.org/papers/big_thompson_tom_browning.htm

Moving on. At the top of the canyon you putter through picturesque Estes Park and then arrive at the park. Before we get to some scenery shots, let’s talk about the food.

I am loving our camp grill.  Don’t know how I lived all these years without it.  And how easy is it to cook a steak at the camp site? Easy! Sprinkled with a  little of your favorite seasoning, alongside a handful of asparagus, a head of romaine for my favorite Grilled Romaine Salad…and the hills are alive with the sound of music. Ok, I got carried away.  Camping food ideas came easy with this new grill.

Add a little shrimp and some green onions, drizzle the romaine with the dressing and you’ve got yourself a campground feast!  The one rib eye was enough for both of us.

Look who’s coming to dinner.  This Magpie swooped in and right under our noses grabbed an olive out of the container and flew off with it  faster than we could yell “SHOOO”. Not even enough warning  to wave our arms in protest. Olive container was promptly covered. Still didn’t keep him from returning to peck at the lid in protest…sheesh, where is Campground Security when you need them.

One evening’s dinner was a grilled ham steak with a mustard glaze, which beautifully turned into some hash for breakfast the next morning. I parboiled two potatoes at home, then cubed them on sight, sautéed them with some onion, added in cubed ham, some paprika and seasonings and it turned out to be easy and delicious. Can’t have breakfast hash without two sunny side up eggs.

I love our French Press for coffee in the high country.

Next up, a few scenery shots and I’ll have you out of here in no time.

Just a little shot of the campground from our area so you can wrap your arms around the place.

Campground cook hovering over the warming grill.

14,259′ Longs Peak looms as a scenery perk from the campground.

A day trip to the Alluvial Fan area. Again, the scene of a failed earthen dam above caused boulders the size of cars to tumble down the mountain to create an alluvial fan effect in 1982. Interested in learning more?  Take a look at this website.  http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/colorado_nature_series/84172

This leads you up the famous highway, Trail Ridge Road which takes you over the continental divide and over and through those peaks that tower more than 14,000 feet high. Forget those bad seats in the arena…you are officially in the nose bleed section here.

Near the top, we’re looking down on the valley from where we came. To the left you can see that alluvial fan where the last photo as taken. Pretty awesome. To the right the switch backed highway that winds you up the hill.  Feeling the altitude yet?  :-)

White knuckled and down off the highway in the sky, treat of the trip was to find a group of female and baby Big Horn Sheep grazing in a wet meadow.   These treasures were closely guarded by Park Officials, so this was as close as I could get for a photo-op.  How COOL is this?

Back at the campsite, clouds swirl around the sun to threaten an afternoon shower.  Now I understand why we call it God’s country!

On this day..

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Comments

  1. Nancy says

    Wow – I LOVE RMNP. Wonderful pictures, LA – Brought back great memories. Great food – and great magpie shot!! thanks!!

  2. says

    You are the campground cook MASTER! I’ve never seen anyone create such great food in the middle of a campsite. Your photos are gorgeous. I’ve never been to the Rocky Mountains but after seeing these, I sure want to go!

  3. says

    The scenery and the grub both look magnificent. It’s great that you can drive a couple of hours and go from 90* temps to having to wear slacks and a jacket. I have to say that surf and turf meal is not what I think of as the usual camp fare – I believe many of us could take camp cooking lessions from you and of course, that is my kind of breakfast. Great post.

  4. says

    What a great post! Love the photos – I remember that devistating flood. Your food looks so delicious and that looks like a great campsite. What a treat to have surf & turf with all the grilled veggies … made me hungry! Had to lol about the magpie. I guess that’s why they call the little thiefs camp robbers. Great shot of the baby bighorn sheep! We have areas you have to really watch for them on the highway up here – but I’ve never seen babies. How very cool.

  5. says

    Beautiful pictures. We love it there. Greetings from 100 F at Moab. Still have to prep my dinner. It will be a homemade , bacon Guacamole burger.I really think you should have joined and cooked those wonderful meals you are preparing on your camping trips. But this is my first R V trip here in the US, so I will promise to improve.

  6. rsvpredux says

    Sometimes it’s nice to get a reminder of how lucky we are to live near such amazingly beautiful country. My sister was here not too long ago and each time she visits; she is so awed by the site of Mt Evans just driving west on Orchard Rd and I’m thankfully reminded of the scenery we can so easily start to take for granted.

    I always say roughing it is staying at a Holiday Inn but I do believe your setup and cooking would make the Holiday Inn seem too rustic. What time is dinner; I could drive up!

    Nice post, thanks!

  7. says

    What an amazing post. I don’t remember the ’76 flood but I was only 9. I’m going to check that link in a sec to learn more about it. But I do the same thing that you do, empathize with history when you are on sacred ground like that. Try to imagine what they were feeling and experiencing.

  8. says

    Wow, what a fantastic place to camp! I love anything cooked on a camp stove. My son went to college in Boulder and we made many sightseeing day trips, including Estes Park. Great photos, thanks for bringing back lots of happy memories.

  9. says

    Such lovely country, Lea Ann! Your photos do it justice too! I’ve never been to Estes Park.

    I am so impressed with your campout cooking! As elegant as anything done at home. You guys are eating some super food.

  10. says

    Gorgeous pictures and I love the one of the sheep! One of the best things about living is Montana is being able to see wildlife everywhere. Your camp dinner and breakfast look perfect! We’re going camping in a few weeks… gotta work on my menu!

  11. says

    Looks like you had a wonderful (and delicious) time! I like your feathered dinner guest… it looks like he got all dressed up to visit you.

  12. says

    Man, I so miss Colorado now. My husband and I have been trying to get back there for years now, but the job market just isn’t condusive. Your pictures are gorgeous and it looks like you at like kings!

  13. says

    Wow! You are so lucky to have such natural beauty so close to home. Plus par cooking foods prior to the trip is ingenious, Inspirational. Nice post indeed.

  14. says

    I know exactly where you took all those wonderful pictures. Isn’t the drive to Estes via 34 just awesome? We used to go up there almost every weekend. You’ve gotta turn on those John Denver songs when you do the drive…. How we miss Colorado.

    Your camp food looks so delicious. I’ll have to try that grilled romaine.

    The next time you are up there, do check out Poppy’s on the left side of the road as you enter Estes Park. We like their pizzas and green chili fries. You’ll also find a lovely kitchen store (A La Carte) just kitty corner to Poppy’s :)

  15. says

    Gorgeous campsite and that’s the way I would like to go camping with all the comforts of home and some great food! We are 30 minutes from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and need to start camping there in our backyard.

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