Monday, June 26, 2023

Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

My husband and I were thrilled to explore Rocky Mountain National Park after checking into the charming Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (as mentioned in my previous post). Although we have visited the park multiple times before (click this label to view related posts), our visits typically occurred during autumn. Thus, witnessing the park during the spring with its snow-covered Rocky Mountains was a delightful new experience.

From May 29 to October 22, 2013, the park has a timed entry system, with reservations made ahead of time, but the entry does not require a reservation before the hours of 9AM and after 2PM. We have lifetime Senior National Park Passes and we would be arriving in the park after 2PM so entering the park was fast and easy.


We drove towards the meadows as we knew we would see many elk in those locations.

While using my Nikon camera with a zoom lens, I stumbled upon many groups of elk in my field of view. 

These majestic creatures seemed to be quite famished after enduring a harsh and snowy winter.

In addition to record snowfalls this winter we have been having many days of rain which not only made the grasses very green but also made the rivers run fast and swollen.

The scenery is breathtaking in every direction!

We then drove to our favorite place to take a walk--Sprague Lake.

The lake is named for Abner Sprague, one of the original settlers in the Estes Park area.  

The walk around the lake is flat and easy, with benches along the way to sit and enjoy the views.

Usually, there are views of Hallet Peak from this side of the lake but the cold snow-filled mountains were producing many clouds.

This informational placard shows the view without clouds.

The mountain reflections were still stunning!

I enjoy this walk so much! 

This spring many visitors that arrive early have been seeing moose in the lake.  As exciting as that is always remember that moose can be very dangerous animals and they are best viewed from a very safe distance. At this time of the year, many have calves and that can make them even more aggressive.

We did not see any moose but I did see some geese and their adorable goslings!

The lake area was adorned with bright green aspen trees, flaunting their new leaves.

The walk is incredibly peaceful.

As we approached the end of the lake loop, I began to sense that we were being observed.

What do you think?

In my upcoming blog posts, I plan to share more sights of Rocky Mountain National Park. We embarked on a scenic drive from one end to the other, crossing the Continental Divide and passing through the Alpine Center area where we experienced snowfall. On the western end, we witnessed the aftermath of a wildfire that occurred a few years ago. I look forward to having you back to explore more of the park.

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Sunday, June 18, 2023

A Visit to the Historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

Nestled in a lush valley in Estes Park, Colorado, and situated on 160 acres at a 7,500-foot elevation (2286 M) is the historic Stanley HotelMy husband and I wanted to take a few days to celebrate our June birthdays by staying in the Stanley Hotel for a second time--our first visit was nine years ago--click here- to read that post.

Located about five miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Stanley Hotel was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley, co-founder of the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, and opened on July 4, 1909, as a hotel resort and also as a health retreat for sufferers of pulmonary tuberculosis in that era. The hotel and its surrounding structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the hotel includes a restaurant, spa, and bed-and-breakfast; with panoramic views.

It's a beautiful hotel in a beautiful town!

Please click on the photo collage above to enlarge it and to read the quote by FO Stanley on the statue pedestal.

 F.O. Stanley(1849–1940) was stricken with a life-threatening resurgence of tuberculosis and had been sent west by his doctor, as it was thought that mountain air would improve his health. He did feel better staying in the town of Estes Park and fell in love with the area. He bought land from Lord Dunraven and built his magnificent hotel there--a complex of eleven buildings, some of which are still in use today.

The hotel recently went through some interior renovations... 

...and everything looked bright and shining!

The Shining paraphernalia in the hotel gift shop.

Speaking of "shining" the Stanley Hotel is also considered one of the most haunted hotels in the country! It earned this reputation after the author Stephen King stayed at the hotel in room 217 and had a paranormal experience that was so impactful to him that it inspired him to write one of his scariest novels: The ShiningThe novel is much scarier than the movie!

The Stanley Hotel features a variety of rooms with high paranormal activity including the famous Stephen King Suite 217, the Ghost Hunters' favorite room 401, as well as 407, and 428. These are among their most-requested rooms, so availability is limited. Among many tours, the hotel also offers The Shining Tour.

Did we see a ghost this time or have a paranormal experience during our stay? No, not this time, although I was on the alert for one. If you read my post from nine years ago you can learn that these keys behind the check-in desk began to sparkle and glow as we were in the process of checking in. I was confused by how they were appearing that way and quickly lifted my camera and took a photo of them. When I returned home and downloaded my photos I saw a blurry form to the bottom left and a woman's hand reaching out towards the keys. The hand had an old-fashioned ruffled cuff and I like to think it was Mrs, Stanley who was welcoming us to the hotel!
This time the keys remained normal, or perhaps my imagination wasn't getting carried away "seeing things"? Nonetheless, we enjoyed our stay at the hotel and its historic beauty.

After checking in to the hotel we were excited to drive to Rocky Mountain National Park! Beginning May 26 through October 22 the park requires an advanced purchased timed entry permit for peak hours of 9AM to 2PM. We were entering after 4PM so we knew we'd have a few hours to enjoy the park that evening, and we had our permit for the next day. In my next post, I'll show some of the sights in the park. Although it was June, there was still lots of snow in many areas!

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Monday, June 5, 2023

A Walk Around Lily Lake in Rocky Mountian National Park

My husband and I both have birthdays in June so we made plans a while ago to take a few days away to celebrate and go to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and visit Rocky Mountain National Park, one of our favorite Colorado places. We've visited the park often in the past, and you can see all our past visits on this blog-label link.  

Located on the south side of Rocky Mountain National Park on Colorado Highway 7 between Estes Park and Wild Basin, Lily Lake is a scenic alpine lake at 8,931 feet ( 2722.169 M) elevation that offers a flat, accessible 0.8-mile trail around its perimeter.  We knew we'd pass Lily Lake on our drive, so we were happy to be able to stop and take a walk around it before driving on to the hotel for check-in. 

A Rocky Mountain National Park Access timed entry reservation is required to access Lily Lake from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. from May 26 to October 22, 2023.  We arrived after two p.m., so we were able to enter the area without the permit and luckily found a parking spot as the parking lot is not very large. There are restrooms and picnic tables in this area so it is a popular stop.

Please click on this photo to enlarge it to read

As soon as you enter the lake trail there is a placard that gives the story of Enos Mills, known as "The Father of Rocky Mountian National Park" due to his 1907 proposal to Congress to preserve this region of the Rocky Mountains as a national park, which was approved in 1915 as the tenth national park.

The walk around the lake is easy and scenic. It was a nice way for us to stretch our legs after driving for almost two hours from our home. During the summer, the area is teeming with birds such as hummingbirds and ducks. You might even catch sight of a moose feeding on the nearby willows.  Colorado's state amphibian, the western tiger salamander, lives in Lily Lake and we were fortunate to spot a few.  There are also numerous moderate and challenging hiking trails originating from the Lily Lake location. These trails include Twin Sisters, Lily Ridge, Storm Pass, and a lengthier journey to Estes Cone.

Colorado has been experiencing an abundance of rainfall this spring and the days we visited the park were no exception, as they were cloudy, cool, and rainy.   We saw some dramatic weather at times which I'll show in later posts. The rain has made the landscape very lush and green and after years of drought, the plentiful rainfall has been a true blessing!

During our hike along the lake trail, we observed several rocks covered in thick green lichen. Although we didn't come across many wildflowers, we did see some miniature white flowers that I believe are Rocky Mountain Pussytoes. We also noticed several trees and tree limbs that had fallen and were arranged in tent-like piles. While on the trail, we had a pleasant conversation with two young female park rangers who informed us that these piles of forest slash would be burned in controlled fires in the future. They were so happily passionate about their job as Mountain Park Rangers, and I couldn't help but feel a twinge of envy.

We enjoyed our peaceful walk around Lily Lake, meeting the rangers and enjoying nature.

Now it was time to drive on to Estes Park, Colorado, and check in to The Stanley Hotel...more about that in my next post.

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