I’m linking up again with Megan‘s Travel Tuesday party! I decided to join this week again because I have a special heart for this week’s prompt: Which is your favorite national park? What are your favorite activities to do in a national park?
Now, the thing is… I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever been to one national park. But that national park had a huge impact on my life! And that national park is…
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, Colorado
During the summer of 2010, I moved to Estes Park, Colorado to work at the YMCA of the Rockies through a Christian leadership program called, well, Leadership Training through Great Commission Ministries, aka the ministry my churches at A&M and Mizzou belong to. That summer really changed my life in a lot of ways. I often think of my life as BLT and ALT, “Before LT” and “After LT.” You can read all about how LT affected my life here.
But back to the prompt: the YMCA of the Rockies is actually pretty much nestled in the Rocky Mountain National Park, or RMNP as we call it. I didn’t hike a ton during my time in Colorado, but when I did, it was in the park. I also had a lot of sweet times with Jesus and good friends in those mountains. And the views are absolutely spectacular. I sometimes had a hard time believing the scenery was real. It was just too beautiful. Thanks, God, for the amazing panoramas of nature!
So here are the top four things you should definitely do in the RMNP:
This is the most obvious activity, I would say. RMNP has a great variety of hiking trails ranging in what I would consider a leisurely walk to the tallest “fourteener” in the park, Long’s Peak. There are lots of other great mountain hikes, such as CCY, Mummy Marathon, and some other acronyms I can’t remember because I am not that great at hiking and didn’t do a lot of mountain hikes. Also check out lake hikes! I did Sprague Lake (uh… walk…), and Dream Lake, which takes you past Nymph Lake. That was a nice one for inexperienced but moderately sort-of in-shape people! Plus there are beautiful valley areas, such as Moraine Park.
Trail Ridge Road, which spans the park, is the highest continuously paved road in the U.S. Take a nice drive through the park and see the sights as you drive through the mountains. There are lots of places to get out and explore more. Check out the Hidden Valley, Alluvial Fan, and Bear Lake. Go sledding! Even when the signs tell you not to… uh… Or, better yet, go stargazing. The stars at 12,000 feet are probably better than you’ll ever see in most places in the U.S. (Hint: the park usually doesn’t have attendants after 10 or 11 p.m., so you can stargaze even if you don’t have a park pass! Just be careful driving on the windy roads.)
Looking for something to do for a summer? Working in RMNP was great. I mean a lot of it wasn’t fun because I was a housekeeper at a touristy resort, but I really can’t complain about living in the mountains for 12 weeks and getting to explore the park and Estes on my days off. Plus housekeeping had it’s perks (free food, free stuff, nap times…) Pretty great way to spend a summer if I do say so myself!
4. Find God
The best thing I did during my summer in RMNP. Take a hike; take a Bible; take an instrument. Watch the clouds. Sit under a tree. Marvel.