Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rocky Mountain High

The AAA/Mapquest directions we had from Denver to Salt Lake City was supposed to take us north to Cheyenne, then west. About 30 miles north of Denver, I-25 was completely shut down from an accident. Looking on a map, I saw that the next exit would take us to Rocky Mountain National Park and across the Continental Divide. Rather than sit in a massive traffic jam, we headed for the mountains.

The route through the park is a gorgeous winding road that climbs up to elevations over 12,000 feet. At one of the meadows, we stopped for a trio of elk that were grazing on the tundra. Once the novelty of the elk wore off, we realized they were everywhere. Anyplace we saw a group of cars pulled off the road, we knew more elk were nearby.

On the far side of the park, was another group of cars stopped for some mountain goats on the face of one of the mountains. Here we got yelled at for blocking the road of a “federal highway” while I took some pictures, but it was worth the view.

Four hours after we started our detour, we found ourselves a net 60 miles west of where we had started the day. That meant a white knuckle ride at dusk through the Colorado River canyon along I-70 and three hours along a two lane road in pitch darkness to make Salt Lake City. Still, it was a detour well worth making.

Blatant Comment Whoring™:
What was the best unexpected sidetrip you have ever taken?


trusty getto said...

Ah, the Rocky Mountains. I used to live there. RMNP is one of the most wonderful parks in the universe, far as I'm concerned. You can drive through it, you can mountain climb, or you can backpack and leave the world behind.

What a great sidetrip. I'm jealous !

My best sidetrip was to Oregon State Dunes, Mt. St. Helens and Yellowstone. We intended to go to Yosemite, but due to overcrowding that summer, the gates to the park were closed, so after visiting friends in Northern California, we went North and then West to get home instead of South.

Mooselet said...

Great picture of the elk. He looks like he's so used to people taking his picture.

I've taken some great sidetrips through New England in autumn, but I can't think of a single unexpected one that was memorable. :::sigh::: How boring.

Anonymous said...

Great picture of the elk.

yellojkt said...

matt called it. Denver as the Mile High City is not as impressive when you consider that the Grand Canyon is at 7000 feet and RMNP is 10,000-12,000 high.

dykewife said...

i love the mountains, but eventually i get claustrophobic in them. it's like living in a bowl. i much prefer being able to see my dog run away...and run away...and run away :)

Anonymous said...

i did the I-70 trip thru colorado - that's along the natural bridge right? absolutely beautiful! that and arizona were my favorite "scenic" parts of an otherwise EXHAUSTING cross-country drive. i took an off-shoot through arizona cuz i wanted to drive through an indian reservation - stopped my car on the side of the road in the desert and couldn't see another living person or building as far as the eye could see - quite a humbling experience!

btw - i got a speeding ticket in utah doing the drive...