After the race, we got lunch at Five Guys (#racedaybrags) then headed our way home! We decided to utilize our National Parks Pass ($80- good for an ENTIRE year & you can have two people on the pass/ it can go in any vehicle) and drive through Rocky Mountain National Park. Our National Parks pass is definitely one of the best investments we've made thus far. Each park is normally ~$20-30 to get in, so it's totally worth it for the pass if you plan on going to more than one national park during the year.
This was my second time driving through the park (I took my Dad through it a few years ago) and the road that drives through the park (Trail Ridge Road) just opened for the season a week ago! It was previously completely COVERED in snow.
The road is 47.97 miles long, so it's a definitely a bit of a drive, but SO beautiful. We got stuck in a traffic jam not even 15 miles into our journey and with the wait, we knew it must be some pretty awesome animals up ahead!
And it was the BIGGEST Elk we've ever seen! The three of them were totally unfazed by the traffic slowly driving by and mowing down on the grass. As we continued to climb up to the top of Trail Ridge Rd (elevation of 12,183 feet), we saw some of the most spectacular scenery!
Did you know that Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States with 11 miles above treeline?!? (source). We started at the bottom of the road at 85 degrees and it dropped down to 49 degrees at the top with still SEVERAL feet of snow in some sections! The snow didn't stop herds of Elk from exploring and lounging at the high elevation.
This drive is really great for those who wish to experience the Rocky Mountains without doing strenuous hikes and also want to see some great wildlife. We saw several Elk, Deer, Foxes, and moose prints! Highly recommend doing this drive if you are ever in Colorado. We are already planning another trip back to the Park where we can do some backpacking and hiking later in the Summer.