I have been to Colorado many times, so I decided that for this road trip, I was going to skip the cities and head straight for the Rocky Mountain National Park [RMNP].
As I crossed my 3rd state border I was soooo excited! I couldn’t wait to see those gorgeous Rockies! [fast forward through this small road trip and you’ll find my Colorado adventure turning into an entire solo 48 state road trip…read all about it here.]
Let me show you why exploring Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my absolute favorite things to do!
As the mountains [still slightly snow covered in the summer], tall grass, wildflower meadows, and endless evergreens came into view my breath was taken away.
I realized it had been about a decade since I was here last. Why did I wait so long to return?!
I found a campsite, parked and realized there were two deer hanging out in the meadow next to me. How sweet of them to welcome me! 😉
National Park campgrounds are full of families in the summer. I met my camp neighbors and ended up chatting and smore-making over the campfire. It is so much fun to enjoy the great outdoors with others on the same agenda.
We were warned that a baby black bear had been a frequent guest at the local YMCA trashcan lately so properly bear proofing the camp was a must. I’m sure he is adorable but I don’t want to meet his mother. 😉
I fell asleep under a star-filled sky but woke up multiple times throughout the night to scuffling sounds. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to investigate. [If it was a horror movie you would have been yelling at me to “Stay in the tent!” Lol]
Turns out, the deer that had given me the nice welcome earlier decided to have meadow grass for a midnight snack. I was so tired but could only giggle at their loud chomping. #chewwithyourmouthclosed
I got an early start so I could fit in a few hikes the next day. There are so many beautiful trails and lakes to explore. I saw more deer and even 2 moose throughout the day!
After driving through Arizona and New Mexico, it was extra fun to hike on spots of leftover snow. You really can’t go wrong when choosing a hike here…they are all gorgeous. However, I do love me some Emerald Lake! All the greens and blues you can imagine!
Last time I was here I hiked the Emerald Lake trail with my parents. It was such a treat to hike it again and remember them along the way! [Also, my Dad jumped in that freezing cold lake – as he always did…I stuck one toe in and couldn’t believe how cold it was!]
Estes Park is the town that hosts the entrance to the park. It is super cute with lots of riverside shops and restaurants. They also have a gondola for those that want a quick trip up one of the mountains for spectacular views.
I took a trip into town for some much needed wifi action. There is only so much work you can get done in a tent! Haha!
And then…an idea was born!
On my second night camping at the Rocky Mountain National Park campground, it began to rain. And then rain a bit harder. I decided to relocate to my car for the night.
I had such a great sleep in my Prius [her name is Priscilla and I love her]! My car was rain-free, climate controllable and best of all – bugless! That’s when I realized…oh my goodness, it is also completely FREE! I had already decided to keep venturing on and see how far this road trip would go BUT I was super limited on funds, so I knew I had to be very tight with my budget.
And thus officially began my solo 48 state road trip on a budget! I was only a week in, and all my friends and fam had a million questions for me. I knew I needed to share my story and prove that you can travel on a VERY limited budget if you choose to decrease some luxuries.
Starting now, I would make sure my lodging was free as often as possible. [best idea ever = cars CAN be hotel rooms!]
Colorado is a great state to explore but obviously I highly recommend the RMNP all day, every day!!
Thanks for reading! Have you explored the RMNP? Any other fav spots in Colorado I can check out next time? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! 🙂
P.S. Read about Amy’s solo 48 state road trip [on a small budget] here.
Amy’s 48 state road trip route [starting @ home = Southern California] to: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming [again], Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada & UTAH!
Shop Amy’s Colorado Inspired Favs Here: