Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Rocky Mountain National Park in bad weather

Driving into the clouds on Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park As usual when staying in a hotel room, I got a late start. (Which is one of the reasons why I try not to stay in hotels too much.) I only made it to Rocky Mountain National Park by 10:30, which didn't matter much because the weather wasn't cooperating at all. The sky was heavily overcast, and once again, just driving through and getting to more favourable weather seemed like the best option.

There's only one main road that crosses the national park from east to west, but one can take the 9 mile long unpaved "Old Fall River Road" for a while to get away from paved roads and a part of the crowds.

Near the top of the drive, I stopped for a while to try and take pictures of (small) wildlife, but overall the views were pretty much ruined by the overcast sky and resulting dull colors.

As soon as I crossed the highest point of the road and headed into the valley of Cache la Poudre river, it started raining. It would rain intermittently for the remainder of my stay in Colorado, which given the weather, wasn't very long.

Instead, I decided that I'd head back towards Utah and visit Dinosaur National Monument. What ensued was several hours of driving through terrain I don't really have any conscious memory of. I did stop for burgers somewhere along the way, but any other memory is pretty much lost.

Nice weather in Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument is named after, not surprisingly, a dinosaur quarry. However, as I would find out, the area that surrounds the rather unimpressive collection of fossilized bones is a much more worthwhile destination.

An unpaved road in Dinosaur National Monument For one, the sun had come out again; and the scenery also looked like rain was much less abundant in general. There was plenty of wildlife to be seen even from the paved roads, even though my small zoom wasn't really powerful enough to get full-frame pictures of a lot of them.

I was making good progress of heading into the Monument when I looked at the fuel gauge; and reconsidered. In an emergency, would I have enough fuel to not just get me out of the park, but also towards the next big city? I thought not, so I opted against heading deeper into the park for the night, and turned around.

I fueled up in the small town of Dinosaur, and then decided that rather than heading back into the national monument, I'd just take a small dirt road off the main highway, and sleep for free on public (BLM) lands. I backed up behind some shrubs that somewhat shielded me off from the highway (even though I was probably still visible to a trained eye), and prepared the trunk of the Blazer for another good night's rest.

Miles driven: 354mi (570km)

Campground Accommodation: BLM land (A few miles outside Dinosaur, Colorado): $0