Friday, May 24, 2013
Opening Day for Trail Ridge Road - A nice day to take the afternoon off.

Memorial Day Weekend is at the doorstep. Yesterday was a long and productive day. Today, Friday, is the first day of the season that Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. The snow cuts are likely substantial.

After fielding a few calls in the morning I decided to take the afternoon off and go for a trip up to the park.

Pulling out of the gas station, an old car rolls by.

Curiously, I did a fuel mileage check. I filled at the gas station before heading up and again at the same station on the return. Round trip miles 157 and gallons of 4.44 for a MPG of 35.4. Quite good for the car that typically gets 25-28MPG. Perhaps I should take a trip to the park more often.

It's a nice day to have the old cars out...

Heading up US-34 through the Big Thompson canyon.

At the Drake intersection I peeled off towards Glen Haven. It's another scenic roadway with a big plus of the view when popping over the ridge heading down to Estes Park. It was recommended that I stop at the general store in Glen Haven for a cinnamon roll. They're HUGE - a 4" cube. It was quite good - just right moisture and good frosting (though a bit more would be nice by my sweet tooth). I'll look to make the stop again. A nice spot to pull over, enjoy the snack and grand views.

Always an enjoyable view.

Click for a larger size

Elk out by the Sheep Lakes meadow.

More older cars.

Looking down on the same Elk.

Horizontal road cuts through the trees - we'll be there in a few minutes.

The first bit of roadside snow.

Up at timberline

What if the snow gave way and fell atop the person? It's a wet, sugary snow.

Stellar views!

Tall road marker sticks.

I heard that the tan "dirt" coating the snow was from a high wind event over New Mexico. It kicked up a fair bit of dust that settled out over the area.

Now that's a snow wall!

One of the several snow blowers. While parked, it's still running.

The valley below is the beginnings of the Cache La Poudre River that runs through town.

On the far horizon near the left of the photo is the North Park area with the town of Walden.

Nearing the Alpine Visitor Center.

I believe the "logs" atop the roof of the center are only there in the wintertime (removed in the summer??). I'd imagine they're to help the main roof of the snow loading. The visitor center is not yet open - pehaps next week.

Heading down the western side of the mountain towards the headwaters of the Colorado River (where I'll turn around and head back).

The horizontal line on the far mountain is the Grand Ditch. It was cut into the mountainside a while back, with great controversy. It catches meltwater and diverts it into the Cache La Poudre River. It is but one of the many irrigation projects to bring water from west of the Continental Divide to the people and farms on the eastern side.

At a roadside stop there was a snow blower and bucket. Always fun to check out the equipment.

A Denver bound airplane.

Trash & Recycle containers peeking above the snow.

Front bumper

Rear bumper

Perhaps I'll not do this again with the heavy, sugar snow. I could see breaking a tail light lens.

Poudre Lake - the headwaters of the Cache La Poudre River.

Back up the mountain near the Alpine Visitor Center

Down near timberline - little snow about.

Near the end of the Big Thompson Canyon - a siphon dam. Where the water drops down across this dam there are grates to allow the water to drop into a tunnel that goes through the mountain. Some water is diverted leaving some to flow downstream.

Some of the diverted water goes into this pipe which connects two reservoirs - Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. "The pipe" is the end of the Big Thompson Canyon.