Montana RV Vacation, Days 11-12 in Estes Park, CO

Day 11 – Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Today was a big day with lots of firsts for us!

We all slept in a little bit, which was nice, and since Nick had seasoned his new Blackstone griddle the night before (which we gave him for Father’s Day), he cooked breakfast for us on it! We had sourdough pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon and enjoyed it on our picnic table outdoors!

One of our traditions while in Estes Park is for Nick to take the boys to play golf, so today was Behr’s turn to go with Nick first. They left mid-morning. Beau and Carmen played on the playground while I washed some towels, and then we all took Rio for a walk around the RV park, played putt putt, and I did some of Beau’s skills lessons with him (Math and Language Arts), while Carmen played with Picasso tiles.

We ate leftover burgers and soup for lunch, and then loaded up for the Rocky Mountain National Park- our timed entry was 2PM, and included the Bear Lake Corridor. Even though Carmen had not napped yet, I decided we would try for a new challenge as a family- our first hike labeled “moderate” by the National park service, instead of “easy.” 😅

In the past, the easy trails we’ve done have included Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and Lily Lake- all gorgeous and ones I recommend! But this time we tackled Bierstadt Lake! It was definitely a challenge, and due to a wrong turn at one point, my watch showed that we hiked over 700 feet in elevation and went a total of 4 miles in three hours! We had lots of conversations along the way about how life is a lot like hiking, and there were plenty of teaching points for all of us, I think. Nick deserves the biggest prize since he carried Carmen part of the way, as well as patiently walked slowly beside her holding her hand (we were on the edge of a steep mountain several times!).

It’s been neat to see the maturity and growth in each child from summer to summer on these hikes. Beau has grown in stamina and enjoys them way more than he used to. Behr maturely stays on the path and doesn’t wander off or feel the need to climb every rock along the way (or else we wouldn’t have trusted him on this trail!), and Carmen walks 2-3 miles by herself with a very cheerful attitude!

After this hike, we drove a little ways down the road to Sprague Lake, and got out the kids’ fishing poles. Carmen was going to fish for the first time! As we approached this favorite lake, we walked up on a moose feeding in the middle of the shallowest end! I’ve wanted to see a moose my entire life so this was quite a treat!

We then went a little farther around the lake and the kids fished for about an hour. And Beau caught a rainbow trout!

We were pretty hungry and tired at this point, so we circled the lake and returned to our truck around dusk. We decided to try a new restaurant in town that opened this past March, and enjoyed dinner outdoors in the cool evening air!

Day 12 – Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

We enjoyed another breakfast of eggs and bacon on the Blackstone, and then made our way mid-morning back into the RMNP. We looked for Beaver Ponds to fish, but this location was more like marshlands than ponds, so we went instead to Hidden Valley and enjoyed what Nick termed a “recovery hike” since we all felt pretty tired and sore from yesterday’s 4 miles, haha! It was a lovely brief walk with lots of trees and valleys, and we decided to picnic next to a teepee made out of trees. We are mainly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and some leftover burgers from the night before, and the kids played in the teepee and chose sections of it for their “rooms.”

Next up was a request the kids beg to return to each year- the Sugar Shack in town! We all got ice cream and enjoyed it outside the shop before returning to the RV. C took a nap, Behr and I did his skills lessons, and Nick took Beau for his turn at 18 holes of golf.

Afterwards, they picked us up again and we headed to Kirk’s Fly Shop for a guided tour for fly fishing! Fishing is one of those sports our boys have taken great interest in, and of which we don’t know that much about. But we promised them we would learn since they’ve continually shown interest. We definitely don’t know anything about fly fishing, so we thought this two hour lesson/experience would be good for all of us. We only paid for Nick and the boys, but C and I enjoyed watching.

The tour included all the necessary gear so the boys were outfitted at the store, and then we followed our guide about ten minutes outside of Estes Park to a piece of Big Thompson River. They had a blast and everyone made at least once catch! We didn’t get a pic of them all before releasing the fish, but here are a few shots.

The tour ended at 7, and of course Nick wanted to grill one last time before we head home, so we stopped at the store and he got some New York Strips, filets and potatoes. It was all delicious, and we enjoyed our final dinner in Estes Park under some beautiful stars!

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