We searched the internet and narrowed down our choices, then made a direct contact to see if they had a room available at almost the last minute. Only because of the major flood a few weeks before, which scared some tourists off, were we lucky. So do not wait, if this might be one of your top picks.
The condo unit was almost new, and featured a view of the river from the nice redwood terrace. The fireplace was gas and kept the room toasty. They have satellite tv, microwave, fridge, couch, comfy chair, and a huge bed which made a nice night's sleep. Bathroom was clean, the whole place was spotless and well kept.
There is a barbecue 25 steps from the front door.
The management seemed to be very nice and polite.
The park entrance is 5 minutes by car.
We lucked out in staying here, and I think you will also appreciate Beaver Brook, as we did.
View of river is nice, and the sound of the water was pleasant in the evening on the deck.
There is a hot tub, but we did not use it.
All of this place is new, and clean, well kept.
They answer the phone when you call, no recording and no "put on hold".
This past September was our second time saying at the Woodlands. We especially like the location of the Woodlands since they are close to Estes Park, but not within the major traffic areas of town.
There are about a dozen condo style units along the river, with plenty of outside seating along the river to soak in the views. Our second floor unit had a full kitchen, livingroom, dining area and full bath and bedroom. We also had a large balcony where we enjoyed watching the hummingbirds. The units are modern and clean. The owners also make available a washer and dryer next to the offce for guests who need to do laundry.
We had everything we need at Woodlands to make our stay enjoyable.
Our second and final night in Rocky Mountain National Park's backcountry was spent at Upper Mill Creek. This was a dark and unpleasant spot and a sad way to finish up our 27 days in the backcountry of US National Parks in the summer of 2008.
It was good that we arrived so late as we basically just ate dinner and got in the tent. We had spent some time at Mill Creek Basin Campground not all that far from here and were glad we did. If I was to do this circuit again, I would prefer to camp there as it was more open with nicer views.
Upper Mill Creek is located in a very dense new forest so the trees are very thin and closely packed together. It allows very little light through especially late afternoon. Mill Creek provided your water source and it was more pleasant down there so not a bad idea to take your meals closer to it. We actually walked to Bierstadt Lake for breakfast in the morning as it was not too far and was on our way back to complete our three-day circuit.
Our first night in Rocky Mountain National Park's backcountry was spent at Odessa Lake. Though this was not the trip I had envisioned doing in the park, it turned out to be more scenic than anything I had planned. Ironically, the trail to it is initially the same as the one to Flattop Mountain which was my planned circuit.
It was late September and it was crisp and clear. We only saw one other person at the lake and that was just as we were leaving our second day. I am sure this is a crowded spot in summer but if you camp at some point you will have it to yourself or at least with just the people from the only other spot! We did a nice walk along the lake shore which looked to head to a possible climb of one of the surrounding peaks.
The only downside was this crazy kamikaze chipmunk who just would not take no for an answer. He came sneaking up behind us in an attempt to steal some food so eventually I tried throwing stones at it to scare it away. The stupid thing thought I was throwing food and the next thing you know he ran up my back when I had it turned to him! To be fair, it was obvious he had been fed by other lake visitors which led to this very unnatural behavior. Do not feed wildlife, let it remain wild.
Odessa Lake Campground has only two spots and they are quite spread out from each other. One of the spots is a lot nicer than the other though its better scenery could spell a lot less privacy if you do this trip in the middle of the summer as it is closer to the lake and literally on the trail to the pit toilet which is located in a small group of boulders away from the lake. It is not covered so gives great views and is not as stinky as run-of-the-mill covered outhouses. Our spot had a very nice little “kitchen” in the forest not too far from the tent area. It was a very short stroll down to the lake and its lake shore made for a great spot for breakfast as the sun shone on it fairly early.
Moraine Park Campground had a tough act to follow. After two superb campgrounds at Grand Teton National Park, it was only natural to expect a letdown when arriving at Rocky Mountain National Park but that did not happen. Well, to be honest, the first night was spent at a KOA near Estes Park, the park's gateway town due to a late arrival. It was not a particularly nice KOA and at $31 a night, not a cheap one either. So, Moraine park would have had to be awful to sink to that depth but compared more to the great spots we had in the Tetons. The campground was not very busy as it was a Monday in late September. Despite it being late in the season and the chill in the air, those in the campground knew they were in for a special treat at this very special time of year. Not only was fall foliage coming into full swing but we were right in the peak time for elk bugling. Though it had been rainy the first night at the KOA, it cleared out the bad weather and it was wonderful at Moraine Park the two nights we were there. Sunny cool days and cold clear nights. It would have been quiet except the elk were bugling all night, sometimes very close to the tent!
Moraine Park is a wonderful campground with a combination of treed and open sites. The more open ones are on the edge of the campground, overlooking the valley and have wonderful views. The treed spots are equally nice with partial views into the valley and plenty of privacy from the trees. Restrooms are rustic but modern with running water. Our spot was great, up on a hill and far-removed from anyone around us but quite close to the restroom. The hill made this not a problem as though we were close in distance, no one walked through our spot (too lazy to climb the hill!) to short-cut to the restroom. The valley is noted for wildlife and is one of the prime elk viewing areas during the bugling season of late September. This makes for great evenings going to watch the elk and still being able to get back to camp for a meal or doing the reverse. Very convenient compared to say Yellowstone where you have to drive for miles between your camp and noted animal viewing areas.
We paid $20 per night which was good value for such a big private space.
We stayed for 6 days. It is along the river. The guy in the next cabin caught two fish. The owners are pleasant and accomodating. They keep their prices lower than most other of these types of places, and they serve warm muffins in the morning. Blue Spruce is located outside and south of the town of Estes Park, which has become a tourist trap. If you want to stay near a river with lots of trees and birdlife, this is the place for you. It is not a fancy place, but clean and your cabin comes with stove, refrigerator and plenty of hot shower water.
The entrace to the park from the cabins is 5 minutes away by car.
Well away from the crowd of people.
Not as expensive.
Kitchen, shower, tv, and barbecue areas.
No pool or hot tubs. This place is meant to be more rustic.
There are many businesses that have cabins and condos; however, it is best to call ahead and make a reservation as they are all quite popular.
There are no actual non camping accommodations IN Rocky Mountain National Park. Overnighters will usually either stay in Estes Park or Grand Lake. One of the most visible sites in Estes Park is the Grand Old Stanley Hotel. This was the setting for Stephen King's "The Shining". Remember Jack Nicholson's son riding his big wheel up and down the halls of the empty hotel? Stop by and walk through those very hallways. Have lunch or dinner at the hotel restaurant. Walk the grounds. You won't be disappointed.
There are five campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park and three which are open year-round; there is no water available at campgrounds from mid-September to mid-May. We camped for three days at the Moraine Park Campground with our grandchildren in July, 2004, and had a thoroughly delighful experience, although the evenings became very cool for late summer.
Moraine Park Campground is first-come, first-served from Labor Day to mid-May; it then becomes a reservation campground. Timber Creek Campground is first-come, first-served year-round, though its roads are not plowed in winter. Aspenglen Campground is open mid-May through late September and is first-come, first-served. Glacier Basin Campground, which has group camping is open June to Labor Day and is a reservation campground.
The Morain Park Campground had a parking pad and/or tent platform, picnic table and grill at each site. There are modern restrooms available, but no showers. An evening campfire program is held during Summer.
The one word I have to describe the night that I spent at Odessa Lake.
If you were to look at photographs of the campsite, you would surely think that this is a ideal spot to set up camp. And you would be right...at first glance it is. It isn't until you stand on the bank of the lake that you realize exactly where you will be staying.
Odessa Lake is surrounded on one half by the Bighorn Flat mountains. Very scenic, however this geographic layout creates a wind tunnel that blows across the lake and directly into the tent set up at the first campground! Luckily, the ranger working at the Backcountry Office (where we picked up our permit) told us to face our tent doors away from the lake. He had experienced a thunderstorm there which almost blew his tent over. After spending a night there ourselves, we realized that it does not take a thunderstorm to blow over a tent. We had a clear night.
Our camping experience started out just fine. We noticed that it was a little windier than normal and chilly, but we were 10,020 ft above sea level. We ate our lunch, which was actually Ramen Noodles left in the bear box by someone else. We didn't bring warm food for lunch and since we were cold we needed something warm in our bellies. Then we decided to take a side hike, but cut it short because I was tired. As soon as we got back to the campsite, lightning struck and we could tell that it would begin to rain any second. We climbed in the tent as fast as we could. Sure enough, a thunderstorm ensued. We were stuck in our tent for about 2 hours. When it seemed like the rain was stopping, we left the tent to get some food for dinner. In the time it took me to walk to the bear box and walk back, storm clouds overhead gathered again. I quickly ran back to the box and traded our dinner food for something that we could eat in the tent (under normal circumstances this is a very bad idea, but we would have starved otherwise). When I returned to the tent again, the heavens opened up and showered SNOW on us! SNOW! We got back into our tent and ate our dinner. Darkness came and along with it, the end of the snow. It dried up, but along with the dryness, the wind came. The wind came all night. It rocked our tent and tested its durability. We didn't sleep much all night and couldn't wait to get up and leave by morning. Even as the sun rose, the wind didn't let up. At 6:30am we were forced to get out of the tent and attempt to pack it up along with the rest of our belongings. It wasn't easy, but we did it. We hiked down, back to our car and got the heck out of dodge!!
Stay: September 13-14, 2004
We made our reservations online at:
The campsite we chose was the walk-in tent area. On our reservation request, we added "Scenic and secluded if possible." At other places that we have done walk-in camping, the sites were literally walk-in, about 100 yards or so from a main parking area. This was more like car camping. Our parking spot was only about 50 yards from the site and in order to get to it, we had to walk through other people's sites.
The site was very scenic though. We had no one camping behind us. There was a small hill behind us which faced an rocky open meadow. It was a great place to sit and watch the sun rise or set.
The campground has specific areas for you to pitch your tent. It is a raised area filled with a dense gravel. Our tent only has very fragile thin stakes, so we really had to force them in by banging on them with rocks. We now know that we should buy thicker stakes. The site also had a very nice fire pit with a grill cover over 1/2 of the pit. We used this to cook our hot dogs. We also had our own picnic table to use.
You must purchase an entrance pass (one per vehicle) to get into the park. This was $15 at the time of our visit and it was good for 7 days. Camping was $20. Firewood purchased at the campground was $2.50. The firewood man also had ice, ice cream, and soda for sale.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a beautiful area that has been wonderfully preserved while also making it fully accessible to everyone. Mountains are all around you and because of the changing seasons, they are constantly changing. Fall was a beautiful time to visit. The apsen trees were mid-change and were glorious in their bright yellow color, especially in the morning sun.
The wildlife of the park provided much entertainment! In the fall, elk come down from the mountains into the meadows to eat and mate. Moraine Park Campground is located in the middle of this area. All night we could hear faint noises coming from all directions of the park. It sounded like a child trying to play a trumpet. For a long time we actually believed that it was a misbehaving child. It wasn't until morning that we discovered exactly what the noise was. Upon waking up and exiting the tent, we witnessed a heard of elk feeding just yards from our campsite. Minutes later from the other direction, a male elk approached - making the same noise we heard all during the night. Apparently this is a mating ritual for the elk. The male makes this noise to attract females. Truly amazing. It was like being IN a National Geographic special!
Unless you're camping in the park (which is the best way to see it) this is a very nice, and very convenient place to stay.
The rooms are satisfactory - we had two double beds, a chest of drawers, tv, a table, microwave, small fridge, three comfy chairs, and decent bath. Not enough lighting, though. There's a balcony, or you can go sit on chairs placed right on the river bank and watch the swallows diving for bugs.
It is located just off the west end of the commercial district on Elkhorn Avenue, which is the main tourist drag through town. It was especially convenient because the Big Horn restaurant, is just around the corner, and it opens for breakfast at 6 a.m. When you want to get out on the trail early, but still need your coffee, this is the place in town to go. Lots of locals eat here. In addition, when you come back off the trail, sore and weary, you can get a massage next door to the Big Horn.
They have a pool, an outdoor hot tub, and very friendly and laid back front desk service.
Ask them about AARP or AAA discounts when you call. You'll save 10%.
Most centrally located motel, and reasonably priced compared to the competition.
A small campground near the Long's Peak trail. Its a good place to stay if you're attempting to hike Long's Peak.
Moraine Park is the largest campground in the park and is located near the Fern Lake Trail. There are more than 200 sites, but reservations are required.
This spacious campground sits near the edge of the Colorado River. There are 100 sites marked by tent pads and fire rings and space for your cars. A telephone anchors the entrance, and bathroom huts and bear-proof lockers are always nearby.
Some of the 100 sites almost sit within the basin of the Colorado River. By night its willows are filled with bugling or sparring elks, and by day its passages are used by the area's moose. Under starry skies, bats might appear above, soon lost in the silhouetted range to the west. Lodgepole pines tower 100 feet above the entire campground, the only place I can think of where elk are routine visitors. Even moose are infrequent intruders.
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