"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weathering Boyd Lake and Rocky Mt. National Park

This is the most "winter" weather we've had to cope with since we left Illinois four years ago. We're coming up to about a month of cloudy, cold, wet days in New Mexico and now in Colorado. Call us spoiled, but we sure appreciate the sunshine and mild temperatures that this kind of traveling offers us. Well, "into each life..." and all that, and now I'll gripe no more, because you know what you sometimes get with rain?

For a week at Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland, CO we had a beautiful spot overlooking the lake...

...and were treated to some exciting skies. 

Boyd Lake is a really nice park, with lots of open space, miles of trails to walk and bike, and well cared for facilities. It has electric only hooks-ups, with two water spigots per loop for filling up, and one large, well-placed dump station. It's not close to the highway, so it's quiet, but it is close to Loveland and Fort Collins - two thriving communities where all your polymorphous fantasies of consumables  can be fulfilled.  (By the way I want to recommend JAX, a super-duper store for anything outdoorsy, plus clothes, pet supplies, hardware, etc.  I want to move here so I can go there once a week.)

Boyd Lake State Park only has one significant drawback as far as I'm concerned (if you don't mind paying for showers): the curved pull-through sites are kind of tight for a big rig. It's hard not to drive over the grass while trying to position yourself, and in our circumstances, that made a big muddy mess.  Oh, and another occasional issue: when the wind is blowing from the northeast, the park can get strong unpleasant odors from the cattle feed lots across the lake.

Loveland is a perfect location from which to explore Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), and we did so a couple of times.  We didn't intend to do it twice, but we woke up one morning to blue skies and sun on the Rockies, so we had to go again.

The road from Loveland to RMNP is Rt. 34, or Big Thompson Rd., which goes through Big Thompson Canyon. In 2013 there was major flooding here, and evidence of how the Big Thompson River scoured the canyon is still visible throughout its length.  Here's a shot of a landslide at one bend in the river. 

 In several locations small cabins are still barely holding on even two years later. I'm sure a clean-up job this big takes a long time.

Despite the damage, the canyon is still beautiful in most places.

After about 30 miles Rt. 34 takes you right into Estes Park, the gateway to RMNP. 

The historic (and "haunted") Stanley Hotel is the visual linchpin of the town.

There are several routes to take out of Estes Park to explore RMNP, but the one that goes west over the highest mountains was still closed with snow. We headed southish on Bear Lake Rd. and ended up at Bear Lake, which was still pretty snowbound.

Then we drove as far as we could on Trail Ridge Rd. to Rainbow Curve where there are great views on clear days. The day we were there is was kind of hazy.  The altitude really zonked me out. I begged out of getting out of the car with, "Just let me take a little nap."

The second time we went to the mountains, on the sunny day, we drove south on Rt. 7. Our first stop was Lily Lake.

The road passes along the base of Longs Peak (the bare one in the center I believe), which is one of the most visible peaks from Loveland and after which the town of Longmont is named.

After Rt. 7 skirts around Longs Peak it then gives you a great view of Mount Meeker behind the quaint Chapel on the Rock, or Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel.  The surrounding land is still recovering from the 2013 flooding. Thank goodness the Chapel is on that rock, or it would have been washed away.

In the tiny town of Allenspark we stopped so I could get a cup of coffee at the also tiny Meadow Mountain Cafe, and I couldn't resist what was probably one of the best cinnamon rolls ever. Their breakfasts looked great too.

We ended our drive on that singular sunny day passing through popular Boulder Canyon where we saw lots of rock climbers and hikers among the rocks, and making one final stop at the Foothills Community Dog Park just north of Boulder. What a great park, with uninterrupted views of the Front Range! (Thanks to my Bring Fido app for helping us find dog parks where ever we go.)


  1. I can't wait to check out Jax! Looks like we will enjoy that park (especially if the wind cooperates!). I sure hope we're having more sun by the time we get there in early June. Though all this rain is making everything so GREEN!

    What a couple of wonderful drives you took. Incredible photos! I am so looking forward to getting into the mountains.

  2. Thanks Lisa. We've been enjoying the green yards and field too. Our time here is just about over, but I think this rainy weather is not. It may follow us into Wyoming. I hope we get some summer some time.


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