Our Perfect Day continues

Rocky Mountain Wildlife

Rocky Mountain National Park


Our drive continued up Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park.  Hubby and I could not contain our smiles after watching the cute little Pikas darting amongst the boulders and through the alpine tundra wildflowers.

If it weren’t for the high altitude making me feel a tad woozy, I would’ve stayed on that trail all day.

Yep, pull up a chair and watch the Pikas and Marmots scurrying about the tundra!   Yes sirreee, I’m easily entertained.  Al and I could sit for hours and watch wildlife.  So hubby was equally enthralled.

bighorn sheep

We tore ourselves away from the Pikas and continued our journey, but we didn’t get far.  We saw folks with pointed cameras and a couple of park volunteers donned in orange vests standing along the side of the road.  I quickly found a place to park and joined the group.

bighorn sheep

The three male bighorn sheep were magnificent.  The orange clad volunteers directed traffic as well as ensured tourists maintained a nice distance from the animals.  It was clear the bighorn sheep were used to visitors.  They were more interested in munching the meadow grasses than they were in the shutters snapping.

bighorn sheep

Supposedly, the area near Iceberg Pass is a popular location to spot bighorn sheep.

Rocky Mountain National Park

hiking in ColoradoMoving on …. Near the highest point on Trail Ridge Road (12,183 feet – 3713 m), we spotted a herd of Elk in the distance.  We were getting accustomed to seeing Elk in the park, but those antlers were never the less impressive and check out those wildflowers – they sure were pretty!

We took a pass on stopping at the Alpine Visitor Center and continued our trek toward the town of Grand Lake crossing Milner Pass and the Continental Divide.  This marks the location of the direction of water flow.  All creeks and rivers on the east side of the divide flow easterly toward the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean.  Creeks and rivers on the west side of the divide including the Colorado River flow toward the Pacific Ocean.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Shortly after Milner Pass are a series of five switchbacks that helped us navigate the 2,000 foot drop in elevation to the town of Grand Lake.  We found a nice place to stop along the shore of Grand Lake to enjoy our picnic lunch.

Grand Lake Colorado

Grand LakeIt didn’t take long before we were joined by company looking to mooch a morsel.

One of these chipmunks was running across Al’s foot and even started begging.  When we threw him some lettuce leaves he actually had the audacity to spit out my fresh, organic butter lettuce. Then another chipmunk came over and tried the lettuce.  He too spit it out.

“Well guys…. if you were looking for junk food, you picked the wrong couple”.  Al and I have been trying to eat a little healthier lately and feeling much better for it.  Perhaps sometime I’ll post about our Paleo diet, but for now I’ll just say it’s made a huge difference in our overall health.

Grand LakeAfter a very enjoyable lunch, we headed into town to stroll some of the shops.

Grand Lake is a small town that Al and I would visit each winter when our family of four would spend the Christmas holiday near this part of Colorado.  Ah yes, wonderful times.  This little mountain town will always hold fond memories for us….. new and old.

While I made a quick dash to the Ladies room, Al stepped into one of the shops and upon my return, he surprised me with a gift.  You see, my birthday was just a few days away and hubby decided to surprise me with a necklace.

Five years ago I might have questioned his taste … I much prefer a combination of gold and precious gems, but our new lifestyle is so different from that of our suburbia world that most of my fine jewelry was either given to our daughter or sits in storage.  I was almost brought to tears by the lovely sterling silver moose hanging from a silver chain.  A moose necklace; how perfect.

TundraAl and I have been together well over thirty years, and we stopped doing the surprise/gift thing a long time ago and I’m totally fine with that.  As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure it was initially my idea.

Anyway, I found the gift very touching and adding to an already amazing day.  But the cherry on the sundae was yet to come as the guy in the fudge shop (yes, you read that right ‘fudge’.  Chocolate IS healthy and we’ll leave it at that)….. the guy in the fudge shop recommended we drive down Columbine Road if we wanted to see moose, thus off we went.

We drove around the residential neighborhood for about 15 minutes before deciding to call it quits.  We had a long drive ahead of us back to camp and figured we would just have to return next summer to focus on that moose hunting.  I no sooner turned the corner to head to the main road when Al urgently said, “Wait….. look”.


Can you see him?

I glanced between two houses out into the water, and there he was …. the largest moose I had ever seen.  He was standing in the water munching away.  I couldn’t get the little truck pulled off the road and parked quick enough.


Isn’t he gorgeous?  Oh my gosh, this was definitely the icing on the cake, cherry on top, pièce de résistance turning this day into one heck of a perfect day.  Boy, did we hit the Mother load of wildlife that day; pika, marmot, elk, bighorn sheep, and now a moose!

Colorado moose

It was tough pulling ourselves away, but we still had to cross the Continental divide back over Trail Ridge Road to get home to the Glacier Basin Campground.


Trail Ridge Road

What a fabulous day it was …. sheer perfection. A day I won’t forget.

Grand lake colorado moose

bighorn sheep colorado

Nature Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park
Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots


82 thoughts on “Our Perfect Day continues

  1. What a fantastic day if amazing views and wildlife! I must admit that seeing the Continental Divide is on my bucket list, and with any luck I will get out there! I so enjoy your stories and pictures. While Im still a desk jockey, reading your blog is like getting away each day!
    As for the moose…having been raised in Maine I can say seeing them never gets old. Whether its up at the mountain, driving country roads, or traveling main routes where moose are a dime a dozen, seeing them still holds a thrill!

    • I too don’t think I could ever tire of seeing moose. They are a magnificent sight. You MUST visit the Rocky Mountains. I grew up in flat Illinois but have called Colorado home for the past twenty years and I’m still in awe with it’s beauty!

      • I have actually been looking online at visiting Colorado. My son has a friend out there he is dying to visit and asked me if I would come out there with him. He may stay…but I could definitely spend some time out there, exploring and touring around. Definitely an adventure I can see in my near future!

        • Awesome…. I have some more posts on the area coming up that will hopefully provide you with more ideas and info. If I can be of any help, feel free to email with any questions. It’ll be a fun trip 🙂

          • My son is totally psyched about your reply…he said Oh so you have friends there too! ummm….in a manner of speaking. I look forward to your posts and sharing them with my son. You may just help him begin the next chapter…how lovely!

  2. What a great day, so glad you found your moose, living in VT we’ve seen many of them, sometimes in our yard while the kids were playing football.

  3. Viewing these beautiful photos and reading your post, I’m in tears… You capture the majesty of these animals and the beauty of the nature. How sweet of Al, that is so thoughtful. Thank you for sharing your surprise 🙂

  4. You are SOOOO lucky! I have always wanted to spy a moose, but, alas, no such luck for me. Looking forward to learning about your Paleo diet. My 21-year-old daughter was thinking of switching to Paleo, however her college budget couldn’t handle it. Isn’t it sad that eating healthily is more expensive than junk food! When I was a kid, Ding Dongs were more expensive than apples!

    • Yes, that day did require luck and we definitely scored. With the exception of the items for baking such as almond flour, I’ve found we’re not spending any more money to eat healthy than we did before. Gone are the bags of chips or loaves of bread which add up. Honestly, we haven’t changed things up that much except for purging the white flour and sugar and that in itself has made a difference in our energy and cravings.

  5. I just love this type day…tons of wildlife!! That moose is the cherry on your sundae for sure!! Perfect! And a bull at that:) It must have been an omen after Al bought you the necklace:) How sweet:) Happy Birthday!

    Don’t you love seeing the Big Horn Sheep with the major big horns! Exciting:) Perfect day indeed:)

    • It sure was a great day. I never expected to see ALL that wildlife in one day. I’ve driven Trail Ridge Road a few times before and never scored like this. Thanks for the b-day wish. It was definitely a happy one 🙂

  6. Ingrid, that definitely was a perfect day! Your wildlife sightings were fabulous, and your photos are gorgeous. The necklace was such a lovely surprise gift from your hubby — I bet it will always remind you of your perfect day. (BTW, we’ve been eating a Paleo diet for several years and feel great — with red wine and dark chocolate, which we consider to be essential food groups.) 🙂

    • Thank you Laurel and I’m not sure the day could’ve been any better. A special day indeed. I just assumed wine and chocolate WERE part of a healthy Paleo diet…. haha. I won’t believe anyone who tells me otherwise 🙂

  7. What a great way to start my day… Reading your post with the amazing wildlife photos, all found without hiking! I love it… And, I am not shy. That moose is my favorite. 😊 I’m glad you didn’t turn around and head to your campsite sooner. Perfect day indeed, Ingrid! Happy Birthday!

    • Thank you Holly. Seeing that moose just made my day. He was gorgeous and I’m teething at the bit to return but I’m afraid it’ll have to wait until next summer. The weather in Colorado has already turned and it’s about time to start heading south.

  8. I loved this so much… especially the photos… and especially that moose! Wow! We are definitely going to have to go back when it is not so crowded sometime. I also loved your story about your special gift, too. What a lovely story and one that you will no doubt treasure for a long time. 😉

    • This was the first opportunity we’ve had to spend enough time to just meander and take our time. We were able to just take it all in and we loved it. We’re already trying to plan out next summer to be able to spend more time in RMNP 🙂

    • Thank you Judy. I’ve seen moose before during our Boundary Waters Canoe Area MN days but not one as magnificent as this one. He was absolutely huge and looked so healthy. A very special experience.

  9. I love the little pikas and chippymunks! I could blow an afternoon watching them easily.
    I learned about moose recently. They are the only land mammal that eats aquatic plants for food. Lots more nutrition in those plants.
    Great shots all around!

    • Thanks and I did not know that. We did instinctively know to look in shallow waterways for moose but did not know about the nutrition value of aquatic plants. Makes sense considering how big moose get on a vegetarian diet. And yes, I could’ve sat and watched the pikas for hours 🙂

  10. “A perfect day” is right! Thank you so much for taking the time to organize and publish these photos and the accompanying narratives for us. I’ve really enjoyed them.

    • One of these days I need to figure out how folks add the customized Google maps to their blog posts. I’ve read the directions and I’ve tried several times to no avail. Some of us are just more tech challenged than others…. grrr!

  11. You made my day!! Great pics! I love the Rockies!! It’s truly heaven on earth. Estes park, the best!! Thx for sharing!!

    • Thank you Brenda and many years ago we stayed at the Stanley Hotel thanks to your recommendation. It was great fun coming back here after so many years and having a lot more time to leisurely explore RMNP 🙂

  12. So many great wildlife photos that I can’t choose a favorite!

    It’s probably a good thing that there were rangers near the bighorns. Last time I was in Yellowstone, I watched one jerk get flipped up into the air by a young bull elk, and another nearly trampled by a bison, people have no sense.

  13. Sure does sound like a perfect day! By the way, we saw a moose in that exact same spot on Columbine Rd. in the water last year. Maybe it was the same moose?

    • Could have been the same moose. He was gorgeous and huge wasn’t he? We’d like to spend more time in Grand Lake next summer so I’ll be checking your blog and Lisa’s for places to stay 🙂

    • Ah, but I know you are enjoying some fabulous scenery yourselves. I know after our summer spent in your neck of the woods we’ve become pretty partial to CO as well. It’ll be difficult not to spend summers in CO 🙂

  14. You hit the mother lode Ingrid! What an amazing day you had and what a sweet hubby to surprise you with such a lovely gift! Beautiful images! 🙂

  15. Wow your trip across the divide was perfect and has me wanting to return and do it. You got some amazing wildlife shots and I would have been thrilled to see any of it, much less the sheep, elk and topped off by the moose.

    • All these wildlife sightings were off the side of the road. No hiking needed. Should you plan a visit back to RMNP, be sure and email me and I’ll let you know where to look. From what the volunteers said these were the usual places for the wildlife 🙂

    • Thanks. We’re thinking of a day trip just to the east side of the park for fall colors and the Elk rut but the weather is already getting questionable with this rain (snow at the higher altitudes) but we’re not leaving Denver till the end of the month so I’m sure we can find a window in there.

  16. Believe it or not, I think that was the same place we spotted Big Horn Sheep …quite a few years ago!.I agree…spotting the wildlife is the highlight of a day…I always try to soak it all in as a memory, and get as many pics as I can…You and Al need to go to Alaska…I was rubber necking all the way to see the wonderful wildlife, and it did NOT disappoint!!

    • We had such a great week in RMNP, but then the trips we don’t have any expectations usually turn out to be the best. Al was stationed in Alaska and he could take it or leave it and has put me in charge of such an excursion. I’m still mulling it around 🙂

    • The perfect place to escape the Phoenix heat…. that is when you’re not on the other side of the pond. There is such a thing as Paleo fudge…. or at least I can pretend lol.

  17. This is just such a wonderful day… I actually could picture Al and you joining Linda and I at a water hole just sitting and watching the wilds happening around us… from Lion down to the smallest of birds could be witnessed… but your day here sounds like one of those I’d do my nut for… that Elk is a magnificent animal, looks as though that could easily weigh in at a ton… beautiful condition as well…

    • Oh, to see a Lion or any number of your African beauties in the wild would be an experience leaving me in awe and speechless. And top it off with hanging around a watering hole with my favorite South African blogging buds would be the best ever 🙂

    • Thanks and from what I understand – that one spot is definitely where the sheep hang out and frequently cross the road. This was the most amount of time we’ve ever spent in RMNP and I can’t wait to do it again.

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