Rocky Mountain National Park

A beautiful autumn picnic on the Old Fall River Road

Aspens changing

Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado spans the Continental Divide and encompasses protected mountains, forests and alpine tundra. It’s known for the Trail Ridge Road and the Old Fall River Road, drives that pass aspen trees and rivers. The Keyhole Route, a climb crossing vertical rock faces, leads up Longs Peak, the park’s tallest mountain. A trail surrounding Bear Lake offers views of the peaks.

THE OLD FALL RIVER Road:

-11 miles long, one way uphill 

-Fall River Pass is 11,796 feet above sea level

This motor nature trail, constructed in 1921, was the first auto route in Rocky Mountain National Park offering access to the park’s high country and was the first route over the Continental Divide. It follows a route traveled long ago by Indian hunters who came for the abundant game.

Today it is a one-way gravel road that runs between Endovalley and the Alpine Visitor Center at Fall River Pass. It is narrow and has many switchbacks (hence trailers or vehicles over 25 feet are not allowed) but it is a beautiful and safe drive.

The road continues along its narrow path offering views across the valley of Sundance Mountain high in the alpine tundra. The road climbs up out of the trees to the Fall River Cirque, the starting point of a glacier that carved the steep chasms of the Fall River valley.

Rocky Mountain National Park.Com
Fall River Road Picnic

Driving the Old Fall River Road is a favorite annual day trip from our home in Ft Collins. Today, temperatures ranged from 69 degrees in Estes Park, to 53 degrees at Alpine Visitor Center at nearly 12,000 ft elevation. Sunny and warm, Sally though it was a perfect day for a steam-side picnic. Fresh pears, locally made Brie Cheese, crackers

Fall River Cirque
The view from the Alpine Visitor Center. Winds gusting to 33 mph, but the sun was warming

Seward and Prince William Sound 🐬

The really big draw in Seward are the glaciers and marine life in Prince William sound as well as the raw physical beauty of the surrounding mountains.

There appear to be few restaurants with “better-than-mediocre” food, and few museums of interest to us. There is the history of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, but that is only of minor interest, other than the improvements made after the spill to prevent a future occurrence.

We booked an all-day boat tour with Stan Stephens Glacier and Wildlife tours to the Columbia Glacier and found the trip marvelous. The weather cooperated with a sunny high of 73 degrees, though when we got close, winds off the glacier were substantially colder.

“Any cruise on Prince William sound is guaranteed to be beautiful, especially if you set out from Valdez. For whatever reason, even despite the oil spill a few decades ago, there tends to be more wildlife on this side of the sound’s protected waters. Maybe animals come here, just like the people, because there tends to be less traffic. You can count on seeing lots of sea otters and harbor seals, but humpback whale sightings are common too. There are a few pods of resident orcas, and starting in June you might also get to see puffins.“

Cruising Prince William Sound
Colonies of Steller Sea Lions sunning on the beach. Their grunting was quite loud!
Doll Porpoises playing in our bow wave
More Doll Porpoises 🐬
Lots of sea otters
Mom sea otter with a pup on her belly
Cute harbor seals escape Orcas by hiding in the icefield
Tufted Puffin
Glacier ice appears blue
Columbia Glacier. We are 2.5 miles away. Although the glacier looks small, it is four hundred feet high at its foot. The many icebergs prevent getting closer.
The wind blowing off the glacier is quite chilly!
The densely packed small boat harbor

Our tally of marine life for the day included: Doll Porpoises, Steller Sea Lions, Puffins, Sea Otters, Harbor Seals and Humpback Whales.

Next Post: The Nebesna Road

Family Fun at the Cabin

Board games, hikes, cookies & ground squirrel catch-and-release……

Playing SORRY!

Rock Climbers