June 14, 2016
The Royal Arch sits at 6,915′. Most information will tell you that it is a 3.2 mile round trip hike, but that is from the sign, it’s about 4 miles round trip from the start of the road and the last mile getting to the arch has a gain of 1,417′.
The parking for this hike is packed as there are multiple hikes you can do from the parking lot. We chose to park on the street so we didn’t have to circle. You can bring your dogs!
As you take the road you come to this large sign so you can’t miss the trail.
It was still easy as we walked along. The scenery was beautiful and it didn’t seem as packed as we thought it was going to be.
Then you get to this spot. You cross the river and then comes the climb…
It doesn’t seem like it is going to end, but then you reach the top and it’s really cool! There isn’t a lot of space to sit, so it feels really crowded, but at least there are people to take your picture.
The view of Boulder is perfect.
After the hike we went into town to find some lunch. We found Terra Thai across the street from University of Colorado – Boulder. This is the first time we have had Thai since we have been on the road. It hit the spot for sure. We walked the campus and then to the popular Pearl Street Mall.
We then headed to Estes Park to check out the town. We stopped at Lumpy Ridge Brewing and Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ. If you check them out on yelp, they are as nice as the reviews say and they are as busy as the reviews say. We were able to get a spot at the bar and share a combo with three meats and two sides.
Since we were already in Estes Park we decided the best thing to do would be to drive Highway 34 from Estes Park to Grand Lake (which is where we were boondocking). This road is also known as the Trail Ridge Road. If you do the entire drive you get to experience all the park has to offer. The amazing thing about this park is the elevation change, which creates different ecosystems within the park. You start in lush forests and by the time you reach the top at 12,183 you are in an alpine tundra. It started at 75 degrees and when we got to the top it was 44 degrees. Even in June there was still about 5′ of snow!
I can’t begin to explain how beautiful it was. How different it was. Even with how little we did here, it’s one of my favorite National Parks.
We drove through in the evening, it was quiet and not a lot of cars. You still have to drive slow, minus the drop offs in areas, you don’t want to miss the elk that are grazing. We saw small groups and large herds. They were even walking through the campgrounds! Here are some pictures:
It baffles me when I see people driving through and they are just driving, missing everything or when people get annoyed that someone wants to take a picture of something, wildlife or not. We are there to enjoy the natural beauty of things and not let life pass us by. We will not take for granted the time we have to enjoy these amazing things.