The Brighter Writer


Rocky Mountain Way

Last summer, I wrote a list of things I wanted to see and experience in this breathtakingly beautiful state of Colorado. I was fresh off the move to Fort Collins from Orange County, California and all I wanted to do was just day trip every tiny corner of "God's Country" that I could find. I wanted to really see for myself why everyone seems to be so in love with the Rocky Mountains.

Since then, I've learned.

Oh, I've learned!

Colorado has no rival.

There's no place in the world like the Rocky Mountain range.

It is absolutely stunning.

And it isn't just the views, it's the people.

Mountain people are of another breed.

So anyway, last week we took a trip up through Rocky Mountain National Park to one of the stopping points of the Continental Divide which was on my Colorado bucket list from last summer. Although I've driven the canyon up to Estes Park many many times in my life, I've always taken the same highway 34. For whatever reason, it never dawned on me that there may be another route up. So when my sister took a right at the Glen Haven split, I was a little unsure as to why.

Glen Haven General Store, Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

But then I smelled the smell and everything became very clear.

Glen Haven General Store sign, Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

Glen Haven General Store cinnamon roll, Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

I'm telling you, these cinnamon rolls are taste bud blowing delicious. They're gooey, they're sloppy, they're melt in your mouthy. I ate mine in record breaking time.

The whole town has 5 buildings. The Glen Haven General Store, a fire department, a bed and breakfast, a trading post and a town hall. With a town population of 11 (I assume) there was still a line out the door for these cinnamon rolls. Cyclists, townies and tourists come from all over Colorado and Wyoming for these things. I'm not even kidding.

There's a perfect cinnamon eating spot just around the corner with a tiny picnic table nudged against an old truck and Indian teepee.

Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

Glen Haven Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

Once we had our cinnamon and coffee fix, we headed up Devil's Gulch Road which dropped us off at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park for our ride up to Alpine Visitor Center.

The visitor center is a nice little resting place to decide whether you'll make your way to the other side of the continent, or return to your original side. It's only open from May through October because of winter snow conditions and sits just 2 miles north of the highest point of Trail Ridge Road.

The views of the Alpine Tundra from up here are out of control, especially if you take the time to climb to the very top.

Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

One of us wasn't very happy about it.

But we did it.

Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

The other one of us was twirling around because the hills are alive with the sound of music...

Ute Trail, Ute Indian Trail @ Alpine Visitor Center, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

Just across the street of the visitor center is the beginning of the Ute Indian trail. It's believed that these Indians traveled by foot thousands and thousands of years ago to get through the Rocky Mountains going from East to West. To walk a small portion of something made so many years ago is truly humbling. It was one of those times I reminded myself that I'm just a tiny speck when it comes to the history of our giant world.

Last fall, an illegal campfire sparked a forest fire that burned from October to December. In late November, a crazy strong wind storm doubled the size of the fire and pushed it 3 miles in just over half an hour taking out a large chunk of the historic Ute Indian Trail. During its peak there were more than 600 firefighters on the line trying to contain the blaze. The Fern Lake Fire is the largest forest fire in Rocky Mountain National Park history.

Stupid people...


Next stop, The Continental Divide!

I was so excited to cross off something from my Colorado bucket list but my crabby kid was way beyond nap time, hungry, over the car ride and ready to be back in civilization with Bubble Guppies and her Cabbage Patch kids. I was annoyed and she wouldn't look at the camera. What you see is what you get.

Continental Divide sign in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

The Continental divide runs high peak to high peak all the way from the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan and separates the drainage of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. There we were, me and my kid, on opposite sides of the continent and opposite sides of the excitement spectrum. It honestly couldn't have been a more fitting circumstance.

Poudre Lake @ Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

We also got to check out the Poudre Lake, which starts the beginning of the Cache La Poudre River. This is a river with which we are very familiar. The Poudre's headwaters are located right in our town of Fort Collins, we camped next to it last summer and we visited it on our day trip up Poudre Canyon. Cache La Poudre literally means "hide the powder" in French referring to a giant snow storm in the 1820's which forced French trappers to hide their gun powder in the river banks.

Poudre Lake @ Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO #RMNP #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

All in all, it was a great trip with my family (of which you'll see no pictures of because I never got their permission) and I can't wait to do it again in the future when my daughter is a little bit older. Maybe next time we'll make it all the way to Grand Lake? You never know...