Trail Ridge Road taken from My Rocky Mountain Park.
We have referenced or Colorado Road trip in the 2 previous posts. This was our first big trip with our then 5 month old and it convinced us that road trips are THE way to travel with an infant! Its the real life experience that allowed us to come up with a list of Top 10 Essentials we will be taking on every road trip with baby from here on out.
So here is what we did and how we jam packed 5 days full of breathtaking sights and super cool experiences.
Day 1: Thursday November 3, 2016
We took the 6 am flight out of Detroit and stayed at a nearby airport hotel the night before to break up the travelling time, as we live 3 hours away from Detroit. We knew that Friday we needed to use for exploring right away, so we wanted to be at least somewhat rested. In our 'younger' days, we would have skipped the hotel and left at 2 AM to get to our flight. I guess age, and a baby, has been making us recently opt for comfort.
Upon landing in Denver, we successfully picked up our car seat/ stroller that had been checked, as well as our single luggage, and headed to pick up our car. At the rental office, we were told that the only vehicle available under our Economy class reservation was a 2 door hatchback. They tried to up sell us to a Full Size vehicle saying that we need a car with a large engine to have enough power to tackle the mountain roads. We agreed, but mostly for our own convenience of not having to struggle to get to the back seat when taking Baby in and out of the car. A personal side opinion: The mountain roads we encountered were very safe and so well maintained that a smaller car would have had no problem with the well paved winding roads and the gradual inclines.
Okay, onto the good part!
We checked the status of Trail Ridge road, which runs all the way across Rocky Mountain National Park, because we knew we were taking a chance to sight see it in November (historically, the road closes for the winter season in mid October due to the unsafe road conditions). On this Friday we were told that Trail Ridge Road was temporarily closed. Mt Evans was also on our list to see, its is the highest paved road in North America where you can drive to over 14000 feet! But even before departing we already knew that it was closed until the Spring. Next time...
We were blessed with sunny spring weather and the forecasts showed that it would remain that way all weekend however, and so we remained hopeful that Trail Ridge would open back up rather than remain closed for the season. We switched our itinerary around and off we went to Grand Lake taking a different highway, rather than through the Park. It was a 3 hour drive from Denver and a nice way to ease into the trip. It allowed the notion that we are actually here, sink in. The mountains we saw I would consider foothills (although I'm no expert) compared to the giant snow covered peaks we later encounter later. Nonetheless, it was awesome! And Grand Lake was lovely, very calm and crystal clear.
As I mentioned in the previous post about The Ultimate Trip to Take With Your Baby, the flow of the day was up to us, and so we could easily stop for feedings – which was around every 3 hours. Baby F would keep himself busy in the back seat with a simple toy or by looking out the window and then would smoothly drift off to sleep. It was so toasty and warm in the sun that we could jump out of the car in just sweatshirts to take our photos. Satisfied, that we got to see Grand Lake, we headed back the same way to Denver getting to appreciate the same mountains from a different angle.
Before checking into the hotel, we stopped for groceries. We had a suite with a kitchenette for these days so we cooked our own dinners and made sandwiches to take with us on the road. Baby F ate a mashed banana for breakfast, some kind of baby food jar in the evenings at the hotel and I breastfed for the remainder of his meals, which was usually in the car.
Day 2: Friday November 4, 2016
We got lucky! Today, Trail Ridge Road`s status was OPEN! We did a quick celebratory dance and headed to the National Park, about 1.5 hours from our hotel. We watched the foothills grow before our eyes. By the time we reached the entrance of Estes Park, we were in THE mountains! We made a quick stop at the visitor center and took advantage of their informative documentary about the history of Estes Park. Sprague Lake, that was on our to-do list that day, was named after Abner Sprague, one of the original settlers in the Estes Park area- who would later become the first paying visitor once the National Park was established. Oooh-ahhhh! The Loop around the Lake is less than a mile and is considered to be wheelchair accessible, so we were sold!
We thought we`d be using the stroller, but since Baby F was awake we decided to take the carrier. I got me some baby snuggles as I took in the spectacle around me! An all around win! Next, we arrived at the Bear Lake Loop, which is one of the most popular trails for its beautiful view of several peaks and their mirror image in the still reflective water. This loop was a little more challenging than the previous mile, as it had a couple of relatively steep sections in some places, so the carrier here was ideal for this "moderately accessible" trail! The last picture in this section was taken from the eastern shore of Bear Lake, with the commanding view of Hallett Peak!
By the time we were done both loops it was 4 pm and we had wished we had started our day sooner to be able to do another trail! You could spend days in the Park hiking and exploring the trails, waterfalls and bodies of water. We had no time to lose from this point on because we wanted to be out of the park by dusk. I am unsure of the names of the different lookouts, but we stopped wherever there was an epic view to snap some pictures and eternalize those moments.
The advice we read with traveling in the mountains with children was to have fluids on hand to have them stay hydrated in the higher altitude but also to prevent ear popping by swallowing. When we saw a noticeable incline ahead of us or would feel our own ears pop, Id turn my flexible self around to give F a drink of chamomile tea in a bottle. Thanks to the back seat mirror, I had assistance with aiming the nipple into his mouth!
We traversed Trail Ridge Road as far as we could go, which was most of the road for only the last end of the highway, that would have connected back with Grand Lake, was closed. We made pit stops at most of the designated lookouts.The snow covered mountains were glorious!
We thought we had seen all we could manage in a day, but on our way out of the park, we had one more beautiful view waiting for us. Herds of elk had emerged to graze in the grass! The sight of them was so captivating that we stopped the car and I got out to get some zoomed in shots. It was awesome!
Throughout the day, we had no problem with the altitude change bothering our little guy, but a kilometer out of the Park he abruptly started crying. We stopped so I could pull him out of the car seat but he was inconsolable until I offered him the breast. It hadn’t been the usual 3 hours since the last feeding, and because his cry was so sudden and shrill, it was probably because of pain. Poor little ears… Once he settled though, he was out for the rest of the ride back to the hotel.
Like us on Facebook to join the Adventure Baby Club! That is all I am able to fit in this post. Our remaining days will be featured in Part 2. It includes Colorado Springs, a drive up to 14,000 ft at Pike's Peak and a visit to the U.S Air Force Academy. Stay tuned!