On our recent road trip we got to spend 5 days in the Rocky Mountains. We stayed at the Moraine Campground in the Rocky Mountain National Park, which is in the Estes Park area, at 8,160 feet. Of all the places we have been, this campground is at the top of the list of places to visit again. Although there is no cell service or water and electricity at the site, who cares when these are your views? It does have bathrooms and running water stations for gathering water, sinks for washing dishes (to prevent leaving food in the campsite and attracting bears) as well as solar shower stations.
Getting to the campground is not a bad drive, especially compared to driving in the Smokey Mountains. While the road does have steep sections and some sharp curves, the road is paved and in excellent condition, is wide enough to pass other cars comfortably and has guard rails. If you remember my pics from the road going into the Smokies, they had none of those things. This particular campground is located on a plateau that backs up to a large opening where you can see the peaks of the Rocky’s, as well a lot of wildlife grazing including deer and elk.
The campground is a short drive to Estes Park so you have easy access to anything you need. The first day we just did some driving and site seeing in the area. We arrived at day 10 of the trip so we were both getting tired and I also wanted to make sure I gave myself some time to adjust to the altitude. As I do every time I go to Colorado, I underestimated it’s affects. Since we had been hiking a lot already and I was doing yoga, I was feeling good with lots of energy, and as always thought it was not going to be a problem. After we got set up the first night I walked down the slight hill to the bathroom and going back up to the camper, I was quickly reminded.
The campground and campsite were so beautiful that I was happy to stay there and read and hang out. There was always plenty of entertainment with the wildlife. There were prairie dogs there as well and deer just grazed right through, like we weren’t there.
We really did not do as much as the previous stops on the trip but it wasn’t a bad thing. The entire area was so serene and calming I was happy relaxing and enjoying it. We did a lot of driving and checking out surrounding areas. I would have liked to do more hiking but dogs are not allowed on hiking trails in the park. They do however give you a brochure of trails in the area, not part of the National Park, where dogs are welcome. We tried to check one out the second day but there was construction on the road close the trail head and they did not allow anyone to park and access it. We did find plenty of beautiful places to check out on the way, including Lily Lake.
The weather was wonderful for our visit. It would warm up into the 80’s during the day, but there was usually a shower mid t late afternoon to cool it off. It did get into the 40’s at night, but like in South Dakota, I made sure to close all the windows in the camper to trap the heat of the day and it never got too cold at night. We did get to experience snow on the mountain one day, which made for some amazing views and pictures.
On our last full day we did out longest hike at 3.9 miles on the Lionshead Trail. On these trips I do worry about Bella a lot because as she gets older she likes her sleep more and I find that she gets grumpier much easier, so I wonder how much longer she will enjoy these adventures. At this point in the trip we had also had a couple battles about getting out of the camper to go because she did not want to ride anymore. This comes from the fact that she will not sleep when we are riding and so she gets over tired and grouchy. IT was really worrying me because I thought she had gotten too old and just didn’t like going and riding anymore.
This hike made me feel better abut her and believe I don’t have to worry as much and that she has plenty of adventures in her. She had the time of her life and was so energetic and adventurous. In the beginning I was concerned whether we would be able to do this trail because not far into the trail there was a bridge made of two thin timbers nailed together. I did not think she was ever going to get on it to cross, but the adventure was worth it and she hoped right up.
We went through many areas of rocks and other obstacles and she climbed right over them with no problem. She made the whole trail, up and down the hills with no issues. I made sure to plan and bring water and treats, as well as take plenty of breaks for both of us. That day I saw the same little dog she was two years ago on out first road trip to the Grand Canyon. The same adventurous, energetic, maybe too fearless dog. After this day she was in a much better mood too and started enjoying riding in the truck again. I think she needed more time outside being active and exploring and I had not been doing as much with her as she needed to be happy.
We spend a total of 5 nights in this part of Colorado and I could have stayed much longer. In some senses it was a enough because I was ready for a hot shower and WiFi, but the tranquility and calmness of not having any distractions and things to have to do was nice. A lot places I have been to I would classify places I would like to go to again, but this is one I am actively making plans to visit again, hopefully soon.