To be completely honest, we did not really know what to expect from Rocky Mountain National Park. This was a last minute addition to our trip. Perched on the continental divide, the park is nestled among the towering Rocky Mountains. I came to love the Rockies twenty years ago when I lived in Colorado for a brief time as a ski bum. Last year when we visited my cousin in Breckenridge, the entire family got a glimpse of what I had been jabbering on about all these years. The Rockies are just special. The air is different, the sky is different, even my thoughts are different here.
Once we got to the campground and did the obligatory parking of the Rv ritual, we all stepped out in complete silence and stared at the scene before us. Our site was perched 400 feet above a giant green meadow with a perpetually meandering creek running from one end to the other. We were too far above the grassland to hear the creek, but this was a good thing. In Poudre Canyon the roaring of the whitewater lulled us to sleep each night. It was a beautiful sound, but it was constantly there. Here was different. No sound at all. Only the occasional gust of wind gently rustling the trees. As we stood admiring the meadow, we could make out a heard of elk crossing into the open from the tree line. These were much bigger animals than the elk that we encountered at Yellowstone. Perhaps their diet was more nutritious than the leftover tuna sandwiches that the Yellowstone elk were being fed by drive by tourists.
Shortly after setting up camp we began to see other reverent campers quietly pointing toward the western sky. For a solid 10 minutes as the sun set we were treated to the most spectacular light show that I had ever seen. The interaction between the clouds, the mountains, and the setting sun was a beautifully choreographed dance that we had the honor of watching from the front row. For once, I think the camera really captured the moment. You can see from the pictures exactly what I am talking about. I feel blessed to have found this place. It is the antidote that I needed for our experience in Yellowstone.