Memorial Day Weekend – Continued
Sunday: Bear Lake Area and Alberta Falls
Bear Lake is the most popular destination in RMNP. We were warned that the parking lot would fill up early. There is an overflow park-and-ride lot about half way up the hill. We decided to take a chance, and drove directly to the lake.
We were turned around by the rangers at the entrance to the parking lot – LOT FULL…
Not to be dissuaded, we drove a short ways back down, and at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead parking lot, we circled through and tried again.
This time we were waved in and found a great parking spot.
The half-mile hike around the lake is a well-manicured dirt trail with little altitude changes. Most people could handle it with easy. There are sections of the trail that are handicap accessible. Interpretive numbered signs that correspond to a printed guide that can be picked up at the ranger station in the parking lot provide insights.
Occasional cleared areas with platforms or large rocks highlight prime photo taking locations.
Returning to our car we grabbed our picnic lunch. After getting nourished and rehydrated, we were ready for our next trek.
INSIDERS TIP: One of the volunteer rangers gave us a great tip on the easiest way to do the hike to/from Alberta Falls. Here is what we did and it saved us almost half a mile of uphill climb:
Start at the same trailhead as for Bear Lake loop. Stay to the left for Alberta Falls trail. You will hike approximately 0.5 mile, mostly downhill. Trail will fork at that point – stay to the right for Alberta Falls which is another 0.6 miles of relatively easy walking.
Enjoy your time at the falls, then backtrack back to this sign/fork. This is the important part – instead of hiking back to Bear Lake which is mostly uphill from here, take the trail toward Glacier Gorge Trailhead/Shuttle Bus. This is almost all downhill. From there you can catch the free shuttle bus back up the road to the parking lot for Bear Lake.
Worked like a charm!
A few more pictures from the hike to Alberta Falls:
We know better than to feed these little critters, but someone else may have missed the “Do not feed the wildlife” signs, or simply dropped a cracker. Gave me a cute photo-op none the less.
Monday: Wild Basin, Copeland Falls
Our weekend was drawing to a close, but we had one more stop in mind. On our way back toward Denver, we took Hwy 7 south to the Wild Basin area of RMNP.
We quickly found out that the dirt road was not suitable for large RV’s. Thankfully the very kind ranger allowed us to leave Dick and Karen’s rig parked at the entrance. Tim and I were able to find a parking spot at Winter Gate for Ellie Mae, and we all proceeded on from there in Jethro (tow vehicle) to the Wild Basin Trailhead.
There are numerous options and hikes to take from here including Calypso Falls and Cascades, Ouzel Falls and Lake, Thunder Lake, Lion Lake, Bluebird Lake and Finch Lake. Since we had plans for an afternoon BBQ back in Denver, we opted for the shortest hike to Copeland Falls.
There is both an Upper and Lower Copeland Falls.
We stopped at Lower Falls first.
It is only a SHORT walk from there to the Upper Falls, which is more impressive and well worth the extra few minutes to get there.
I case you missed our part 1, you can click here to see what we did on the first part of our visit to this gem of a National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park is enormous. We just touched the tip of the iceberg on our holiday weekend visit. We give it a “Two thumbs up”. There are plenty of things to see and do that will entertain all ages and fitness levels.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we listened to the advice from the helpful park ranger and did not have to walk that extra half-mile uphill to get back to our car.