Part 17: Castle Rock, Golden and Rocky Mtn. N.P.


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The Trip

Our objective was to see my niece in Castle Rock, CO and then breeze through Golden, CO on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park. The photos below are what we saw.

We stayed several days at my niece's place in Castle Rock. The view above is from her front yard looking west.

The Castle of Castle Rock, CO. From Castle Rock, we headed north to my alma mater in Golden.

I used to go to Mines "back in the day". I started my early college career in Geophysics, but later left Mines to pursue Electrical Engineering. Despite the fact that I did not graduate, I made many life-long friends during my two year stay. Sadly, we missed a social function the previous night in Denver due to family obligations. But, we decided to head to the campus for a look the next day.

As luck would have it, there was one of my fraternity brothers at the house doing an assessment of the state of repairs of the building. The house, as it seems, has been closed for awhile due to some misbehavior of some of the brothers. As one of my class-mates remarked, "sounded like a normal weekend to me".

The entrance was in generally good repair despite a bit of rust on the front steps. I am guessing that the pledges have not been doing their duties since the house is closed.

This ore cart is in the front of the house and has been the cause of many noteworthy events in the past, none of which are re-printable here.

Every college that is near a mountain has it's initial on it. Mines is no exception. After meeting with one of my brothers at the house, he advised us that there was an impromptu "chapter meeting" at a bar not too far away, so we headed out.

At the bar, Kathleen and I met a number of brothers who were (at least) ten years behind me. Above is Bob Lorenz who just "had to see the mog".

From Golden, we went to camp at a state park in Golden Gate Canyon. The facility was nice, but somewhat crowded. Plus, over night, it got quite cold, so next morning we packed and hit the road for Estes Park. Along the way, we passed the railroad tracks that cross under the mountain near Winter Park. On top is Rollins Pass. We attempted to go over, but the road was closed near the top so we had to satisfy ourselves with this view.

As we neared Estes Park, we got nice views of the higher reaches of the Rockies that were above timberline.

Long's Peak is over 14,000 feet in elevation.

A view of the small town of Estes Park from the south entrance.

On the south pass there was a nice fishing lake.

We re-supplied in Estes Park, then headed to the west into Rocky Mountain National Park. Once in the park, we had great views of the surrounding mountains, most of which were above timberline.

From the overlook, we had a great view of the glaciated valley below. Typical for this kind of structure, the canyon bottom has a stream with oxbows.

The peaks to the north were intermittently covered by clouds.

To the south from the viewpoint, we could see the valley carved by the glaciers.

To the east, in the far valley, lies Estes Park. The road to get to the viewpoint is visible in the photo above.

All the signs say "Do not feed the animals". The animals, however, have a different opinion. They swarmed the parking lot looking for handouts. This fellow above would swoop down and take food out of unsuspecting tourists' hands.

This guy was fast, he clearly knew the drill and was not afraid of people.

Cheetos brought this guy up close. Feeding is not a good idea and petting is even less so. I am sure this woman did not think that she would have to get a rabies shot if the squirrel bit her.

With all the people in the parking lot, it must be like going to the movies for the animals.

Continuing to the west, we went over a high pass that was in excess of 12,000 feet in elevation. To the south of the pass, you could see one of many high mountain lakes.

At 12,000 feet, the trees give way to alpine tundra and minimal vegetation.

The high pass still had snow in some sections.

As we were taking photos, the clouds were building to the south. Note the snow stakes to guide the snow plows.

Further to the west, we came upon this nice lake close to the road.

As we approached the west exit of the park, we came upon this radio tagged elk who looks pregnant.

The elk above with with other members of the herd that were not tagged.

Closer to Grand Lake, we came upon this young moose who was wondering by the roadway generally causing havoc. A car later came around the turn and narrowly avoided hitting the moose.

We drove past Grand Lake on our path to our camp site for the night. The camp was near a reservoir, but not near Grand Lake.

From the highway, you could see the boat launch facility on the east side of Grand Lake.

We had a nice drive through the park, but got to our camp site a bit later than I would have preferred. That said, we still had a nice dinner and camp fire afterwards. The next day would be a "mega-drive" and would take us through the balance of northern Colorado and most of Wyoming. Destination Cody.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2008, all rights reserved.
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