Day 2
Trail Ridge Road - Berthoud Pass - Top of the Rockies

A herd of Bighorn Sheep graze precipitously on a ledge within sight of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Trail Ridge Road skirts stunted pines that have been contorted into odd shapes by the relentless wind.  Scattered among them are “banner trees”, whose short limbs grow like flags on the leeward side of their trunks.  As the road continues to ascend, even the trees disappear, yielding to tundra, a world of grasses and wildflowers only inches high.   

While having breakfast in the Alpine Visitors Center, we watched Elk play in the snow-filled valley far below.

After leaving the Trail Ridge Alpine Visitors Center we ran across a heard of Elk grazing along the road.  There were several very young Elk in the group along with this male with a tremendous rack.

The west side of Rocky Mountain National Park is greener and softer than the east side as storms moving in from the west drop much of their moisture before crossing the mountains. 

During the descent down the west side of the Park you look out over Kawuneeche Valley, the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River.  The river is so small at this point that you could easily step across.  Kawuneeche is Arapaho for “valley of the coyote”.  Moose also feed along the river.

The recent snow melt has filled the mountain streams to overflowing.
By the time we reached Winter Park we were ready for Smokin' Moe's BBQ. 
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