Monday, October 31, 2016

Old Fall River Road

August 23rd was our final day at Rocky Mountain National Park. Entering the park by way of the Fall River Entrance Station, we drove up the 11-mile, one-way, unpaved Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor Center, located at an elevation of 11,796 feet (3,595 m) above sea level.

Just after entering the national park, we saw two bull elk alongside the road. One stayed partially hidden in the bushes, but the other one was a more cooperative photo subject.

Elk Near Fall River Entrance

Before starting up the Old Fall River Road, we stopped to walk over the boulders to a waterfall in the Alluvial Fan area, created during a 1982 flood caused by the failure of the Lawn Lake Dam. For more information on that flood, click here.

Alluvial Fan

Next stop was the Alluvial Fan Picnic Area, where we used the restrooms and had lunch before starting up the 11-mile Old Fall River Road. In the picnic area parking lot, Doug struck up a conversation with a woman who was wearing a University of Michigan jacket. In the course of the conversation, we discovered that the woman is from the same area where Doug grew up in Michigan, and she now lives about 20 miles from where we currently live in Indiana. She knew some of the people Doug knew in Michigan, and we have mutual friends here in Indiana. It truly is a small world.

This Stellar's Jay was just one of many little beggars at the picnic area.

There are several beautiful cascades along Old Fall River Road, as well as Chasm Falls, a lovely waterfall viewable from a platform a short hike down the hillside.

Chasm Falls
A moose and her calf were relaxing in a meadow.
Several bull elk were feeding together in another meadow.
This one had been rubbing his antlers on bushes, attempting to remove the velvet covering. A strip of the velvet can be seen hanging from his left antler.
This is the view from the Alpine Visitor Center

After reaching the Visitor Center, we returned to Estes Park by way of the paved Trail Ridge Road.  At one scenic overlook, a Clark's Nutcracker proved to be an irresistible beggar.

Clark's Nutcracker
The bird would sit on the informational sign at the scenic overlook until it selected a target from whom to beg. That would be us. He came and sat on our outside rear view mirror, begging quite vocally. Demanding is more accurate. Now, we know the rules against feeding wildlife, but how could we resist this one? Doug yielded and gave him a peanut from our trail mix. The bird continued to sit on our rear view mirror as we pulled away from the overlook until becoming convinced that he would have more begging success by returning to his original perch on the sign.

As we neared the end of Trail Ridge Road, approaching Estes Park, we were treated to sightings of a bull moose lying in a meadow and a herd of elk grazing near the road.



Here are some video clips from August 23, in Rocky Mountain National Park:

We had planned to visit Mount Evans the next morning, August 24, before starting for home, but the weather was awful there. So we pointed the car toward home and put 500 miles behind us before stopping for the night in Salina, Kansas.

A text from a friend that afternoon said that a tornado had touched down near our home. My niece, Beckie, and her husband drove out to check on the house; and, thankfully, all was well. The worst of the tornado damage was about four miles away. It didn't even look as if the wind had blown at our house. 

Beckie did text this photo of our mailbox to me, though, with the tongue-in-cheek comment that she didn't think this damage was due to the tornado:


I texted back, "Any mail?"


  1. laughing at your mailbox damage - sort of. :) loved the elk and moose. and those cheeky, beautiful birds! how neat to run into someone mich/ind 'local'.

  2. What a ice selection of wildlife. I only see captive elk, and have tasted the meat a few times grown commercially.I'm just putting out feeders hoping to see more birds.

  3. They were working on the viewing platform for Chasm Falls the last time we were at Rocky Mountain, so we couldn't see much. I guess it's time to go back. I'm glad the tornado missed your home, but it's too bad about the mailbox.

  4. Thanks for sharing these fantastic pictures.The scenery and the critters are all lovely.

  5. So much beauty and a lot to see here, Linda!!! I am glad your survived the tornado, but thankfully there was only damage to your mailbox.

  6. That Stellar's Jay is stunning, and what a treat to get to feed the Nutcracker. (I'm a huge bird fan.) Love the elk, too. I wonder if they taste like beef, oh, never mind. ;)
    How cool that your husband met that lady from Michigan and now Indiana. It really is a small world these days.

  7. Glad that tornado did not cause any harm to your niece home.
    Thank you so much for such a wonderful sharing. It just refreshed my mind .
    Loved the blue bird most

  8. Theresa - A neighbor retrieved the mailbox and post from the road after they'd apparently been knocked down by a vehicle. The neighbor placed them neatly at the edge of our driveway and the sidewalk leading to the house. That same neighbor mowed our lawn for us while we were on vacation. We are blessed with good neighbors. Those Stellar Jays are difficult to capture in photos...except when they're begging.

    Steve - I'll be watching for photos of the birds coming to your feeders. I've never eaten elk. Not sure I want to.

    George - I remembered that you and Betsy had seen Chasm Falls when you were there. Doug and I had totally missed it that year. The platform provides a great view of the falls and the chasm for which they're named. You'll definitely want to see it on your next visit to the Rockies.

    Thank you, Ruth. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

    Thanks, Linda. We were thankful that the tornado spared our house. Some of the damaged homes are still under construction more than two months later.

    Toni, those Stellars Jays are nearly impossible to photograph under normal circumstances. But put them in a picnic area, and you practically have to shoo them away. It was the same with chipmunks.

    Baili - Thank you for visiting and commenting. That bird is a favorite of mine, too.

  9. Wonderful scenery and views. I love all the animals and birds in this post

  10. Thank you, Margaret.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Weekend-Windup.

  11. That Stellar's Jay and Clark's Nutcracker might have been demanding beggars but they let you take nice portraits of them! :) Love all the elk and moose captures, they look so calm in your photos and Doug's video footage.

    1. Thank you, Petra. The Stellar's Jay is a beautiful bird and is generally flitting from tree to tree. It was nice to see this one up close and personal, as they say. It's always such a treat for us when we see wildlife, especially elk and moose. And, yes, these were pretty calm.


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