Last Updated: 10-JAN-2017
We left New Kensington, PA at 5:30 AM EST and arrived at 7:30 CST in Junction City, Kansas. Good ride. 106 degrees across Missouri and Kansas; ended up being about 45 min ahead of estimated time. Ended up being approx. 1,100 miles. The truck did great. Average MPG was close to 20.
The next day was an easy 8 hour 400+ mile drive into Manitou Springs, Colorado. Another hot and sunny day, and Kansas was greener that I had remembered it from the last drive.
Welcome to Colorado.... The first look at Pikes Peak
We walked around town sampling the various springs.
We visited the Cog Railroad
Hiked up approx. 1000 feet vertical on the Barr trail.
We stayed at the Villa Motel in downtown Manitou Springs. It was clean and quiet. We would have no problem staying there again.
We left Manitou Springs and headed West on Colorado 24 towards Buena Vista. Beautiful country as you head behind (West of) Pikes Peak and out into the High Desert.
Someone was taking advantage of the mid 30 degree morning
A small herd of Pronghorn along the road
The Collegiate Peaks of the Rockies... The Sawatch Range with 15 peaks over 14,000 feet. Six of the 14,000'+ peaks are visible from this point.
The highest paved pass in the Rockies. Independence Pass 12,095 feet and no guardrails.
The highest point in Colorado. Mt. Elbert 14,433'. Mt. Massive at 14,421' is north of Elbert.
Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States, at 10,152 feet.
Explored the old mines up along the road to Mosquito Pass
Took a look at the Climax Molybdenum Mine and Fremont Pass elevation 11,318 feet.
Tennessee Pass Rail Road Tunnel. Not being used at this time but it looks like it's in good shape if it's needed.
Took the Hagerman Pass road up to the divide elevation 11,925'. Went past Turquoise Lake on the way. The road follows the grade of the old Colorado Midland Railroad up to the two tunnels under the divide. The tunnels that you can still see the remains of are the Hagerman tunnel and the Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel. One of the tunnels is now being used to transport water from West of the divide to the East side.
The road was 4x4 or high clearance only, as it was not in the best of shape. We went up to the divide and returned to Leadville. Total time up and back was about three hours. Well worth the trip.
We ate lunch at Wild Bills Hamburgers where we had Buffalo Burgers. They were excellent.
We ate dinner at the La Cantina Restaurant south of town. Very good Mexican food.
We stayed in Leadville at: Columbine Inn & Suites located at 2019 N. Poplar. This hotel was very clean and quiet, although you would need to speak German to understand most of the people staying there.
Along I-70 and through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Hard to think that this was the same I-70 that runs through Maryland.
The National Park pass got us in for free and without that it would have been $10. Just like most roads in the Western mountains this one also did not have guardrails.
On the way up we encountered a number of female Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. You could tell that they were looking for handouts from the visitors.
Getting closer to the top we encounter a small group of Mountain Goats.
The summit at 10am Labor day and its up to 40 degrees. Talked to the ranger and he said that this was one of the best days that they had in a long time. Only a few days before they had ice and 50 mph winds. The GPS says 14.3 K feet
One of the many signs that warn you about lightning and other hazzards
Looking back at the summit from the parking area
Looking at Pikes Peak 70 miles away
On the way down we took a closer look at the group of Mountain Goats that were enjoying the great views and weather.
Some of the vegetation
Heading back down from the summit
The Summit Lake area
Heading back down from the Summit Lake
We started from the West entrance. Spent the rest of the day touring the park, ending up in Estes Park
In the two days that we spent in the park we probably saw 400 elk We got to the point that we did not look at them unless something unusual was happening
Looking West at the Never Summer Mountains
One of the many overlooks
Forest Canyon Overlook
Longs Peak 14,255 feet
Looking down on West Horseshoe Park
Attended the ranger program on Elk at West Horseshoe Park. It was very good and the elk were cooperating by bugling most of the time during the talk.
As it got dark we moved over to Sheep Lakes pullout and watched and listened to the 50-100 females being herded by a number of bull elk. Used the night vision as the activity did not decrease as it got dark.
Looking at the sunset over the divide from Sheep Lakes pulloff.
We stayed at the Super 8 in Estes Park. The hotel was rather old but we got in late and left early. Next time we will find a better place in advance. View from downtown Estes Park looking West towards the Park
A look at Sheep Lakes pulloff in the AM
A small herd of elk along the road near West Horseshoe Park
Longs Peak 14,255 feet Hard to believe that in a few hours the thunderstorms would be towering over the mountain and that we would be driving through hail storms.
We parked at the Bear Lake trailhead and hiked to Emerald Lake. Very senic... But, lot's of people...
The first lake that we encountered was Bear Lake.
Greenback Cutthroat Trout in the lake and lots of squirrels
The next small lake along the trail was Nymph Lake The rocks above the lake were a good place for lunch.
Longs peak is a bit closer now.
Views along the trail
Emerald Lake... Well worth the hike. Flattop Mountain 12,324 and Hallett Peak 12,713 are to the West
Rather large herd of elk near the Cub Lake trailhead
Mary going horseback riding at Cub Lake stables
Hailstorm as we head West again over the divide
Across the top and its sunny again
Milner Pass on the divide
Camping at Timber Creek and the elk come through camp.
We camped at Timber Creek and the weather was rain on and off. We went to the campground evening program that was on native plants and cuisine. The restrictions on food / coolers were very tight as the bears in the area had caused problems this summer.