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?
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!