Rocky Mountain Weekend: Parks and Elk

The morning started with a view of the Flatirons.

October 2, 2011 – Sunday morning we got on the road bright and early and… drove to the gas station.  What, we needed to get gas in the car so we could continue on and see the sunrise hitting the Flatirons in Boulder.

Estes Park
When driving to Estes Park from Boulder, be sure to check out this sign.

Oh, and also drive up to Estes Park.  This weekend was the Estes Park Elk Festival, but we got there early enough to avoid most of the crowds.  Until we found a great little coffee shop, Kind Coffee, that is… they were pretty crowded, but the line moved fairly quickly.  Tony tried a great iced mocha, and Louisa got a chai latte.  Both drinks were excellent.  We also got a breakfast sandwich on a bagel (very good), a yogurt/granola/fruit bowl (tasty) and a slice of pumpkin bread.  The pumpkin bread was the only thing we weren’t wild about; it was nice and tender, but you couldn’t really notice any pumpkin (or spice).  If you like really mild, tender, nondescript breads you’d probably like it though.

Rocky Mountain Meadows
There are elk in these meadows… somewhere.

We continued through Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park in search of elk.  We drove around for a bit and then Tony spotted some little elk lumps (since that’s all they looked like, little lumps) waaaaaaaay out in a field.  We parked and headed out along a little path by the side of a stream.  The elk herd was relatively small, a male and about six females.  He was looking around for a few minutes, and then bugled.  It’s not quite as impressive as it sounds, though it is unique.  Picture a huge bull elk let out a noise that’s something like a squeaky car break, out of tune flute, or rusted pipe scraping along the ground.  To our surprise there was another bugle floating through the air from a distance.  Turns out there were three elk groups sharing this one (very large) field.

Rocky Mountain Aspen
For a great view of the valley, hike past the falls for about 5 minutes.

We also checked out a favorite hike, Alberta Falls.  The aspen were turning colors and the weather was perfect (and sunny).  Before heading out for lunch we also took a quick walk around Bear Lake.

Steller's Jay
Various jays (like this Steller’s Jay) are very comfortable around people at Bear Lake.

Downtown Estes Park was insanely crowded, but we found a little family restaurant, Thai Kitchen, off the beaten path.  We tried the pork Gyoza, vegetable noodle soup, and shrimp pad Thai.  The dumplings and pad Thai were both fantastic, and some of the best we’ve had.  The soup was a little spicy (the “medium” soup was much spicier than the “medium” pad Thai) though.  We also got a mango lassi to drink; we’ve never had one before, and were pleased with the thick and refreshing drink.


Kind Coffee on Urbanspoon Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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