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Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park (Estes Park) & Mt. Rushmore

Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park (Estes Park) & Mt. Rushmore

Old Aug 24th, 2010, 07:57 AM
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Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park (Estes Park) & Mt. Rushmore

Fly into Denver at Noon after Labor Day.and plan to drive scenic route(72 &7) to Estes Park for a two day stay at Rocky before we head to Rushmore. Any tips on lodging, restaurants, smart way to see Park(s)? (ditto Rushmore.) Getting itchy, can't wait to start trip! Thanks, Carol
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 11:14 AM
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The way we prefer to see the park is by hiking - is that an option for you - or will you be using a car only? Either way - a drive on Trail Ridge Road is a great way to see things.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 12:36 PM
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Rushmore is a bit of a ride from RMNP, but if that is where you want to go, it only takes part of a day to see it. There are other NM s in the area like Jewel Cave and Wind Cave as well as the Crazy Horse site which might round out your trip.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 02:00 PM
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You'd better research lodging in Estes because it will be quite crowded at that time of year. My favorite spot is The Woodlands on Fall River Road, or most any of the lodging along Fall River is a great location. It may be a little early for the fall foliage, but you should see some of the aspen trees starting to turn golden. The elk should be quite active and you may see/hear some of the fall rut, a spectacular display of elk bugling to attract mates. Check with the rangers at the park entrance for tips on where to best view them. A short and easy hike that would provide one of the most scenic vistas in the park is around Sprague Lake, which is off Bear Lake Road. Be sure to bring warm clothing because it will get chilly at night or if the day is cloudy.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 04:36 PM
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Absolutely do the Evening Lighting Ceremony at Mt. Rushmore. We just did it last week and it was a highlight of our Yellowstone/Cody/Rapid City trip. The ranger that led the program was amazing and spoke like a preacher and told anecdotes of his life, quoted A.E. Houseman and brought up current events. By the time the little movie was over and all the service people in the audience were up on stage to take down the flag, I was in tears. So, huge fan here of the Evening Lighting Ceremony.
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 06:16 PM
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I love Estes Park, and RMNP!
You might try Keno's Llama Ranch. http://www.kenosllamaranch.com/

Its fairly close to town or the park and the owners are really nice. We always get the Marys Lake View condo and love walking out onto the deck at the beautiful scenary.

As far as seeing the park, definitely Trail Ridge Rd for a drive. Go ahead and take it to Grand Lake. Its a beautiful mountain lake town. Try the Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake... trail. Easy hikes and beautiful scenery.

Have fun!
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Old Aug 25th, 2010, 06:42 PM
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When I went to RMNP I decided to see the park by horseback and it was one of the best travel experiences of my life. I splurged on a full day ride by Roaring River to a mountain lake for lunch... absolutely amazing. Having never been on a horse, I was a bit nervous at first and a wee bit sore at the end of the day but I was so, so, so overjoyed by the experience I had. I went through National park Gateway Stables and I do highly recommend them. Great staff and perfect location for a ride... right at the park entrance in Estes.

http://nationalparkgatewaystables.com/

If you choose to hike in the Rockies, be prepared for the exhausting effects of elevation. I am an avid hiker in New Hampshire and Maine but was physically battered trying to hike in Colorado. Horseback proved to be a far better option for this east coast boy!
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Old Aug 27th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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Home from the gym,lot's of house stuff to do, slight rain outside and zowie, I "open" Fodor's to see if there are any responses to my generic posting. WOW, to all of you... thanks so much for great tidbits! You have made my day!(and our days at RMNP and Rushmore.) East Coast Boy..we just cracked(agewise) into our 60's, do our cardio workouts faithfully, good shape and yet hear that this altitude thing must be, as you suggest, handled carefully...Kassanna'a blog re: hiking sounds so tempting.
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Old Aug 27th, 2010, 08:13 AM
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Never been to RMNP but my daughter and I visited Mt. Rushmore the week before Labor Day last year. We stayed at the K Bar S Lodge for $149 a night for a room with 2 queen beds and a balcony with a view of Mt. Rushmore, includes free breakfast. We liked this hotel; it was outside the noisy and touristy town and was quiet and relaxing. We arrived in the dark and it was a bit hard to find even though we had a GPS since the GPS didn't recognize the address. I suggest calling the hotel for directions.
We had dinner at the Powder House Lodge which wasn't too far away. Food and service were both very good.

Click on my name to see a trip report with more details about visiting Rushmore. It's the one titled "We SAW the USA...
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Old Aug 27th, 2010, 06:28 PM
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Definitely take some time to hike in RMNP. We just returned Saturday from a week in Estes Park for a family reunion. Absolutely loved it and the weather was great. Don't miss Sprague Lake, Bear Lake,which are easy level walks. Dream Lake and Emerald Lake are more of a climb and walk but we took 4 kids under the age of 7 and they loved it! Our family favorites of restaurants were The Grubsteak, The Wapiti, Penelope's. We also like Bob and Tony's Pizza and the Donut Shop on 36 was my husband's daily morning ritual!! Their maple bars were delicious. Have Fun!!
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