Rocky Mountain NP
The Rocky Mountain NP currently has a limited entry system. That means you have to buy an entrance permission in addition to regular park fees. Those permissions sell out super quickly, since they only allow 4500 cars in the park at any time. However, when you have a campground reservation, you don’t need an additional entrance permission.
We got lucky enough to not only score one but two spots for the weekend. That also meant we had to cover 8 hours of driving in two days to make it there from Wyoming. Oh the things we do for junior ranger badges.
The first day in the park we went in super early to hike the area at Ute peak. As in, I hike a couple miles with the kids while Willi runs up and down the mountain and Cody is still comfortable in the van. After the 5am wake up call we drove into the park, explored some and then headed up to the alpine visitor center. That was about when the smoke cloud hit us. And wouldn’t let up for the next couple days. Think ash flying around us. We even put on our masks to manage some of the smoke. And this is why we rarely ever commit to camp spots in advance.
We still made the best of our time in the park. A couple easy on the lungs hikes and exploratory drives and watching thunderstorms roll in. I gotta say we’re not made for the campground life, and Corona did not necessarily make it more enjoyable. But we kept our doors closed and our masks on and our antisocial expression ready to go.
I have to admit I had high expectations for this park. It’s basically all alpine and subalpine tundra, a big Bearthooth Pass Area of national park. Maybe it was because of the smoke, or because most of the tundra was closed for preservation and restoration (which I can absolutely see given the standard behavior of visitors). But somehow the park didn’t even make it on our top 10 of parks. Colorado, however, is proving to be one of our favorite states so far. I’m just bummed we arrived so late in the season, because I have the feeling there are many more alpine lakes waiting to be explored as alternative shower option.