All right, it is not a chapter, and it was not really lost. I simply had too many balls in the air this month to keep track of which one was next as I was chronicling our Colorado trip. Still, I wanted to share this part of the story, so anyone who reads this series will not miss a beautiful, if not as breathtaking, part of the park. So, here goes, the rest of the story.
Our last full day in Estes Park was one of those, “What else can we cram in days?” First, I wanted to drive Fall River Road. We’d not visited that area, and we were interested in checking out the north part of Estes Park, including at least driving by The Stanley Hotel.
Fall River Road is not as spectacular as Trail Ridge Road. With that said, it is worth checking out. One reason to travel at this time of year, early fall, is to see the Aspens begin to turn. This drive did not disappoint in that respect. Unfortunately, for us, we were not the only people interested in those views. Also, it was a free admission day. Traffic was a bit of a problem, and keeping other folks out of your pictures required some patience or editing.
The drive down to meadows through which the Fall River runs was short but not without its share of mountain beauty. The side trip past the Alluvial Fan was disappointing, but only because we did not know what the Fan was. Accordingly, we missed what is reported to be an informative and scenic little hike. Still, we enjoyed what we did see, and we wanted to spend some time at Elk Fest in Estes Park.
Our little side trip on Fall River Road was enjoyable and short, even with stops for pictures and the side trip past the Fan. Then, the road dumped us back into the reality of north Estes Park. The drive from the park entrance/exit was educational to a degree. We passed The Stanley Hotel and noticed some other places worth checking out in the future. Also, we got a bit of a preview of what awaited us as we neared the Elk Fest.
We’d seen a significant increase in downtown traffic on Friday. The locals said it was a combination of the average increase for the weekend and the Elk Fest. By Saturday morning one could describe the downtown area as one big traffic jam. For those in the know, a bypass of sorts allows drivers to miss the primary tourist area. On this occasion, even that traffic might have been outrun by a determined inchworm.
It was mid-morning, and Elk Fest visitors were already parking along the highway. At that time, they were parking almost a mile away. Later in the day, people were hiking well over a mile to attend Elk Fest. Luckily, we’d spent enough time in town earlier in the week to discover side streets and potential parking spots that were at least marginally closer to the action.
The event, held in the municipal park next to City Hall, was precisely what one would expect in a small-town festival. The area was filled with food trucks, food tents, arts, crafts, and local businesses offering specials on services. There were also events such as Native American dancing, Bull Elk calling contest, and other entertainment.
Tents and booths for government entities and service organizations were present as well. They offered advice, asked for support, and provided information on various topics. One tent was occupied by a conservation group. That tent was fun because they brought a great horned owl as an attraction. It was quite a sight. Sadly, the sucker didn’t say “whooo” even once. 😉 He just blinked, swiveled his head, and ignored everyone except his handler.
We wrapped up our Elk Fest adventure with a nice lunch and buying a few t-shirts to memorialize our trip. Then it was time to head back to the cabin to begin the always exciting task of packing for the flight home. The next morning, bright and early, we headed back to Denver International, which brings up one final point that might be of interest.
The car rental Customer Service Rep at the airport suggested we take the slightly longer route to Estes Park. His reasoning was the quickest route was mostly flat land and interstate until you neared the city. The slower way brought you to the mountains much faster. While I totally understand and appreciated his advice, I discovered the faster route is not entirely devoid of beauty.
True, not long after you leave Estes Park, you find yourself crossing land reminiscent of west Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. That is, you can see for miles and miles because the area is flat. Still, there is one difference.
The mountains you are leaving are visible as a backdrop for much of the trip. Flatland, surrounded by mountains, can have a beauty all its own, as this iPhone picture clearly shows.
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