Trail Ridge Road, The Second Time

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I began Day 7 with lofty goals: travel over Trail Ridge Road and through Rocky Mountain National Park, then continue east across Colorado on US 40, arriving at Dinosaur National Monument with enough time to hike a trail, and finally ending the day in Vernal, Utah.  For the first step on that journey, Trail Ridge Road, I was hopeful that I would find better weather than I did on my first drive over Trail Ridge Road, on Day 6. Instead, the weather was much worse.

For most of my climb up America’s highest continuous road, I was pushing through a thick fog.  I stopped at Rainbow Curve — usually one of the best views in the park — but saw nothing at all.  So I continued on, hoping I would eventually break through the top of the clouds.

And I did!  For a while, near Trail Ridge Road’s highest point, I saw some blue sky and sunlight.  The clouds were hit-and-miss, but still thick enough to obscure most of the mountain peaks towards the Continental Divide.

Trail Ridge Road darted in and out of the fog…

… but at the Gore Range Overlook, I caught another break, allowing a nice view of the mountains on the opposite side of the valley formed by the Big Thompson River.

After passing the visitor center, as the road dropped, I plunged back into fog for a while…

… but on the park’s west side, the weather was getting better.  Hopefully, there would be no need for this snow plow for a few more months.  Beyond it, Specimen Mountain…

… and the Never Summer Mountains were in clear view.

One viewpoint on this side of the park provides a glimpse at the birthplace of the Colorado River.  The mighty river begins here, on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.  A bit further down the road, there are trails that will take you closer to the river, which is still quite tiny at this point.

[tmt_info =””]This valley is known as the Kawuneeche Valley.  I spent a few minutes exploring it, during my 2005 trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.[/tmt_info]

As soon as you leave Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll pass through the town of Grand Lake.  As the name suggests, it’s on the edge of a picturesque mountain lake.  I stopped here in 2005 for dinner, but on this trip, I drove through without stopping.  After all, I had a long way to go before the end of the day.

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