24/03/18 – 30/03/18
In our minds we imagined that Estes Park, the town we were to be staying in, would be so small and boring that we probably would not survive the next six days. Trying to ignore this notion we emerged from the windy roads alongside the towering mountains and were pleasantly surprised by the amount of life there was. Before heading to the Rocky Mountain National Park we had to check the town out.
Estes Park isn’t big, just one long street with an assortment of shops either side, but it was enough and made a difference from all the cities we had recently stayed in. Most of the buildings had a very 1940/1950s look about them.
Besides the never ending candy stores, restaurants and coffee shops (our favourites were Kind Coffee and Inkwell and Brew) there was one particular type of store that we saw again and again – Rocky Mountain clothing and memorabilia stores. There were so many of them that you couldn’t help but wander in and have a nosy around. Despite being tempted on one or two occasions, we resisted buying anything.
Our first morning in Estes Park was a good one and the accommodation was my favourite so far. Free tea and coffee was provided in the morning, so I was quick to get my coffee and of course my beloved green tea. We then sat out on our private balcony with our delicious beverages and gazed at the mountains that we’d be travelling to that very morning.
Following a 20 minute drive and a $30 entrance fee (valid for seven days) we were cruising our way through the park.
During our time in the park we drove to Bear Lake where we discovered to our amazement that there was an enormous amount of snow. Tom looked dishearteningly down at his fancy Addias shoes knowing full well that after our travels he may have to say goodbye to them. I on the other hand had a sturdy pair of trainers that would hold out (fingers crossed). Tom soon forgot his troubles as he began sliding up and down the pathways like a child at any given moment. All was well.
Bear Lake unfortunately was not home to any bears, much to my disappointment, and we were able to walk across as it had completely frozen over. Though Tom was happy enough to march over it I was more reluctant, fearing my luck would run out and I would sink to the bottom. I did eventually make the journey over and back – I didn’t die but I did complain a lot.
We attempted a walk to one of the other nearby lakes but we eventually had to turn around. The pathway was no longer visible as it covered in thick snow and in parts was relentlessly icy. Tom had forgotten about his poor shoewear and was quite happy to slide his way back down.
On our third day in the park we attempted our first “hike”. We drove to an area near Cub Lake, parked the car and set off. Of course we had left our food, water and map in the car but I kept saying we’d be fine. We can’t deny that our walk had fantastic views – surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Elk gazing in the fields and a few animal carcasses. It was however eerily quiet. I began to wonder what we would do if a mountain lion or a bear appeared from nowhere but thankfully my wild imaginations never came true. Eventually we had to turn back, the further we got the heavier the snow fell – we could no longer see the trail. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) neither Bear nor Cub lake provided us with any sightings.
We did do other exploring in the park, even finding something for Tom to climb up. I didn’t attempt any climbing but I did do some selfies instead.
While we weren’t in the park itself we continued to explore the beautiful town we were staying in. I fell to temptation and we ventured into one of the candy stores where I bought my first candy apple (one of my 5 a day?)
We drove up to the Stanley Hotel where Stephen King once stayed which was inspiration for the hotel in his novel The Shining.
Dominos somehow ended up being dinner again (not sure what happened there!)
Another exciting development was that I became a member of Safeway supermarket, and now that I’m in ‘the Club’ I get supposedly awesome deals. While purchasing our groceries the man serving us, Tim, was over the moon that we were English. For his entertainment he began listing off the differences in words, so we played along to humour him but he was lovely.
Having full access to a car meant that we could venture wherever we wanted to. We drove to another small town called Lyons outside of Estes Park. It was here that I was defeated by a burger.
I think we both fell in love with this gorgeous little town and I can imagine it’s beautiful in the winter time. Though we didn’t do as much mountain climbing as we wanted we had an amazing time in the Rockies and I can’t recommend it enough!
Where did we stay? The Discovery Lodge. The room was beautiful, the bed was massive and so cosy it was difficult to get out of in the mornings. The views were to die for – our room looked over the lake and the mountains and it was just perfect.
Would we stay here again? Yes!!! In a heartbeat!