Estes Park, Colorado: In Search of a Rocky Mountain High

Estes Park. A Columbine flower at Lilly Lake. Photo by Linda Ballou
A Columbine flower at Lilly Lake. Photo by Linda Ballou

Estes Park Lakes

When I hit snow, I feared I had made a terrible mistake. A young woman took my arm and helped me through the slip-and-slide that was the last stretch of the trail opening to the vista of Loch Lake guarded by snow-streaked spires.

“Welcome,” came from a group who had arrived just before me. “Care to join us for lunch? Would you like us to filter some water for you?” I was most grateful for their kind company.

Isabella’s rapturous, unrestrained delight in this region that gave her “cheerful good health” had brought me here. The majesty of Loch Lake did not disappoint. Mountain trout swam in the placid, chill waters.

I dangled my toes in the invigorating glacier run-off and felt proud of myself for meeting the challenges of the hike. Breathing deeply of the crystalline air left me amazingly refreshed. Thanks to Izzy and new-found friends, I would have my Rocky Mountain High.

The next day I took an easy nature walk around Lily Lake off of Highway 7 where there was free parking and easy access. Inviting benches provide quiet places to ponder the tranquility of the still waters where birds twitter sweetly and butterflies waft over mounds of wildflowers.

Impressive clusters of columbine, Colorado’s state flower, are a reminder of the unending beauty to be found here. Lunch at the nearby Baldpate Inn, built in 1917 and showcasing the pine-sheathed mountains and Tahosa Valley far below, made a perfect close to my adventures in the enchanting Rocky Mountain National Park.

Estes Park. Loch Lake. Photo by Linda Ballou
Loch Lake in Colorado. Photo by Linda Ballou

If You Go to Estes Park:

The RMNP newspaper provides a schedule of ranger-led programs from wildflower strolls to alpine climbs. There are outings for every level of ability and persuasion. Rocky Mountain Park, about an hour north of Denver, is easily accessed. Shuttles in Estes Park, and at park and rides inside the park, take hikers to the trailheads for free. However, there is an entry fee for the park. Passes can be obtained at park gates, visitors centers, and online.

Rocky Mountain National Park official site:

Estes Park is the gateway to the eastern entry points of the RMNP is a bustling mountain town. Room reservations are strongly advised in the summer months.

Estes Park:

Baldpate Inn:

Author Bio: Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou’s mission is to get to as many beautiful places she can before they are gone! She shares a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales.   

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