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Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

San Antonio, TX
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Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

We drove the 1000 miles from San Antonio to Estes Park over 2 days and 18 hours later with our ten-year-old granddaughter; her first trip to RMNP. I have been coming to the Park since high school and then I introduced my husband to the Park, our children, and now our granddaughter. We focused on things we thought she would enjoy and ended up experiencing RMNP through a child's wonder.

Day 1: Arrived in Estes Park at 3:30 Mountain time and unloaded our vehicle at our cabin in Estes Park. Headed to the Visitor's Center to learn of weekly events. Learned that Beaver Meadows Visitor Center was open until 9 pm, so headed over to get GD's Jr. Ranger paperwork. Stumbled into an informative 45 min. Ranger-led program on the Tundra. GD volunteered to dress up like one of the species that survive, the Ptarmigan. The ranger put on a parka over her clothes, feathers on her legs, and goggles on her eyes to demonstrate the Ptarmigan's transformation for winter. The Marmot and the Pika were the other two species discussed using skills of hybernation and storing food to survive in bitter cold. Beaver Meadows Visitor's Cntr. has nightly 7:30 PM Ranger-led informative and entertaining programs.

Day 2:Did the Alluvial Fan hike. GD had great fun climbing rocks and taking pictures of the falls. Next drove to Beaver Boardwalk. Since there have been no beavers here for over 30 years, there was no evidence of beaver dams to this untrained eye. We next went to the Junior Ranger Headquarters located at Hidden Valley along Trail Ridge Road. GD worked on her paperwork with some Ranger assistance. Shopped in the afternoon, found an Estes Park cap for GD and Trail Tags ($1.50 ea) for trails we plan to hike, at Brownfield's, across from the library. I will sew them on the cap each evening after our hike. Husband and GD drove back into the Park at dusk and spotted three large elk at Sheeps Lake. On the way back to Estes Park on Fall River Rd., they saw a bear cub. walking along the side of the road. Fortunately, they took a picture to prove that it was a bear cub, indeed. GD very excited!

Day 3: Hiked Lily Lake on a cold, windy and stormy day. GD completed her Jr. Ranger paperwork, went to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Cntr and had a Ranger review her work and ask her questions. She passed with flying colors and received her Jr. Ranger badge. Very proud of her knowledge. Due to the weather we spent the afternoon in the cabin working on a scrapbook of RMNP. I had purchased a blank scrapbook and supplies at home.

Then,I found Rocky Mt. Scrapbooking papers at Rocky Mountain Memories & Paper Arts, 140 Moraine, 4 doors east of the historic Park Theater. It is a great Scrapbooking shop.

GD had a new digital camera and had been taking pictures. Safeway has a digital photo developing kiosk where we selected pictures for the scrapbook. This has to be the best deal in town - 20 pictures for $1.00, or 5 cents a picture. The service was speedy. We would go to Safeway at the end of each hike/outing and get pictures developed for the scrapbook for less $ than postcards! Tip - Scrapbooking tape is easy to use and less messy than Elmer's.

Weather improved and husband played golf at 4PM at Lake Estes Golf, 9 holes, walking only. $15 fee, plus $4 for push cart. GD pushed his golf club cart, another great Estes Park deal!

Day 4: In the morning we all did three separate things: husband played golf, I went to the (Thurs 8 AM-12:30 PM) weekly Farmer's Mkt at Stanley Fairgrounds for produce, artisinal cheeses, organic meats, and GD attended "Photography: Just for Kids," one of several children's seminars offered by the Rocky Mt. Nature Association. www.rmna.orgllrmna.cfm. They limit classes to 12 children, so I had pre-registered several weeks earlier by calling 970-586-3262. GD loved it and got some great pictures. The class helped to improve her photography for the rest of the trip. Cost $15.

In the afternoon, we hiked the Hidden Valley Trail. At 4 PM we got in a short line to drive the Bear Lake Rd. We waited 5 min. and were on our way. We headed to Sprague Lake and there were only 3-4 cars in the parking lot. Once we crossed the bridge to start the trail around the lake, we saw a Mother moose with her male yearling at water's edge across the lake. I sat on a bench to watch them feed while husband and GD hiked the trail. As they neared the moose, the mother came out of the water to protect her young. All hikers retreated and waited until the mother rejoined her yearling at a safe distance in the water. I started walking towards the bridge to meet husband and GD as they ended their hike, when a herd of elk burst through a clearing about 10 feet from me, heading for the lake. They sounded like a freight train as they stampeded into the lake. I quickly backed up another 10 feet and got behind a tree as they thundered past. There were about a dozen elk in all, followed by a big bull elk with a tremendous rack. Talk about up close and personal with nature! This grandmother has never experienced such a close call - it was frightening and thrilling as well. The herd of elk went right through the middle of the lake. The moose intently watched the elk and waited until they were on the other side of the lake before returning to feeding. GD has experienced more wildlife on this her first trip, than my husband and I in all of our previous trips. Day 4 was the highlight of our trip.

Day 5: We got up early and left Estes Park by 7:30 AM to drive Trail Ridge Road. We drove with only one stop - to stretch our legs and walk to pretty Lake Irene. I had make reservations for GD through the Kawauneechee Visitor's Cntr (970-627-3471) for her to participate in "A Walk Backwards" at the Holzwarth Historic Site. (Reservations can only be make 1 wk in advance and are free.) Children choose pioneer clothing to put over their own clothes and get in the spirit of what life was like in pioneer days. They washed clothes over a wash board, gutted trout, sawed wood, sewed a pioneer doll & baked biscuits. GD had a grand time! Parents/guardians are expected to escort their children and it is about 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot to the Holzwarth property. A golf cart will supply a shuttle for those who are handicapped. Just ask the Ranger.

We drove to Grand Lake for lunch and hiked Adams Falls luckily before it rained. Then we drove back to Estes Park over Trail Ridge Rd, stopping at sites previously mentioned on this forum.

Day 6: Husband and GD had reservations for a two-hr. trail ride from the Cowpoke Corner Corral. The horses were sure-footed over a very narrow and high trail in the mountains. 2166 State Hwy 66, Estes Park, CO 80517; 970-586-5890. $50 each. GD was given an old horse shoe to remember riding Mr. Wilson! Highly recommend.

Day 7: We got up early and drove to Wild Basin in the Park. We were fortunate to get a parking spot at the Copeland Falls TH. Copeland Falls were beautiful and the walk through the forest cool and refreshing.

All in all, we had a fabulous seven days in RMNP. Before, we have always used Bear Lake TH's as starting off points. Due to the current construction, we avoided those with the exception of Sprague Lake, and enjoyed some new adventures.

We enjoyed the deck at our cabin watching tree swallows feeding their chicks in a bird box attached to a tree right in front of the deck. Rufous hummingbirds competitively swooshed around a feeder trying to get to the nectar. One afternoon four mule deer grazed and rested in our front yard. GD excitedly captured as much as she could on her camera.

Thanks to the knowledgeable destination experts and posters for help in making the most of our trip. I used the liscense # game tip and had purchased a lamenated US map with plastic stars for GD to identify states. She found all but 9 states, plus two provinces from Canada and one state in Mexico. It helped to provide excitement during a LONG drive! She wants to return bringing along her parents and brother next year!

rky
Estes Park, Colorado
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for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park
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1. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Nice report! Glad everyone had a good time and thanks for taking the time to let us know about your trip!

Nederland, Colorado
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2. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

What an excellent trip report! Loved reading about the moose and the elk stampede. What great memories for your granddaughter.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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3. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Your granddaughter will never want to go anywhere else. I am so glad some of the ideas we discussed worked out well for you and your granddaughter. You said she would love the scrapbooking! RMNA has programs throughout the summer. I sometimes forget to tell folks about them. :( Your report does a terrific job of reminding people to check out those ranger programs for kids and adults. The program schedules are available online and in the park newspaper. It is always good to stop by the visitor centers and see what is planned. Those rangers are the true experts! One of my nieces gave me the license plate map and stickers idea. I just passed it along.

Your report will be so very helpful to others that I will add it to the Top Questions. I will also post the family friendly ideas and links from your trip planning. You have helped many people and brightened my day!

San Antonio, TX
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35 reviews
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4. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Thank you for your kind responses. I am so thankful for all of the help that I received. I never knew these programs existed when we took our children to the Park in the 70's & 80's. We stayed at the YMCA of the Rockies where they did the day programs and we did our own hikes.

For this trip,at the end of one day our granddaughter commented, "This is the best day of my life!" That was enough for me!

Uden, The...
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for Road Trips
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5. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Thanks for you TR Scooter. So nice you could do this with your granddaughter who's the same age as my eldest granddaughter. Hope your last years trip to Ca was a success as well.

Cheers

Tet

WestSlope,CO
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for Colorado
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6. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

What a wonderful trip report! RMNP really put on her best face for your granddaughter!

May I ask where you stayed?

Edited: 2:31 pm, August 03, 2012
Denver, Colorado
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7. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Great trip report, thanks for sharing! Our kids loved the Holzwarth Historic site also; great program! Your granddaughter will never forget her trip.

San Antonio, TX
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723 posts
35 reviews
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8. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Missp, We stayed in my cousin's cabin which was built in 1956. I stayed there when I was in high school with my parents when my aunt and uncle owned it. No TV, internet, cell phone coverage; but not totally roughin' it either. I remember going into Estes with my cousin and sister roller-skating. Can't remember exactly where the roller-skating rink was. That was 50 years ago!

Tet14, California was great! We are so fortunate to love traveling. Next is Maui in September!

florida
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9. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Best trip report I have ever read. All the activities, etc sounded fun, but the most touching part was about you going to EP/RMNP since HS, introducing your hubby, kids and now grand kids to the area.

I never evenheard of EP until I was in my early/mid 40's, visited for the first time when I was 45, bought a home here at 46, and a new home just a month ago. We've enjoyed making this city and home a special memory with our kids, and one day, our grandchildren.

Don't stop visiting.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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10. Re: Trip Report - 7 days with our ten-year-old granddaughter

Here are some TA discussions SAScooter found helpful when planning this amazing trip.

App for Rocky Mountain National Park

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143048-i3489-k534…

Travel tips and ideas-See reply #3

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143048-i3489-k556…

Family friendly hikes and activities for Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park - including the Trail Ridge Road timeline/itinerary which is already in the Top Questions. See reply #2.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g33324-i831-k54611…

Edited: 7:41 am, August 04, 2012