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Trip Report Quick trip on US34 to Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park

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We usually take at trip from Greeley up US34 each Sept and Thanksgiving week to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. This year the Sept. floods ruined the trip then and I thought there was no way that the road would be fixed by the Dec. 1 date that the governor set. But the highway department and the contractors did an outstanding job and the road opened the week before Thanksgiving.

As we entered the Big Thompson canyon, we noticed that the Dam store was still open and escaped damage. I would like to see marks on the cliff at the mouth of the canyon to show the level of the floods. I had heard that this year's flood was 20 feet higher than the 1976 flood that killed 144.

At the end of the steepest part of the canyon, the Colorado Cherry Company store was still standing and was open. It is one of our favorite stores. We didn't stop going up the canyon, planning to stop on the way down. However, when we came back down. it was closed for the day so we didn't get to find out how they might have been impacted by the flood.

All along the river, there were damaged and destroyed homes. Some homes looked like they might have been ok, but they had big X's on them, which I assume meant they were condemned. Several bridges crossing the river to houses were destroyed and not replaced yet. The road itself was almost as good as it was before the flood. We experienced no delays.

I noticed no damage in Estes Park. We stopped at the very nice visitor center and took a short walk along the river. Quite often there are elk on the golf course at this time of year and because of this, we didn't bring our Siberian husky. No elk today.

We drove into the park (got to love that Senior Pass !) and drove up to Bear Lake. It was a nice drive. There was no snow or ice on the road. Bear Lake is 9500 feet above sea level so the altitude might bother some. The trails were covered with ice and compacted snow and we had no equipment to handle that. Most people had poles, spikes on their boots or snowshoes. The views going up to the parking lot were of magnificent snowy jagged peaks.

Back down to the town where we parked the car and walked around the town. We stopped in a nice rock shop. If I was still accumulating 'stuff', I would love to get some. In the Simply Christmas shop we bought a few ornaments to give as gifts.

After gassing up the car ( price comparable to Greeley's price - not a higher price that usually occurs in isolated mountain towns), we headed back home. As we were leaving town, there were about 20-30 elk grazing along the side of the highway.

Two months ago I was thinking that it would be summer before we could go to Estes via US34. Once again, a big thank you to all involved in getting the road back.

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