I was lucky enough to get a parking spot at Bear Lake (the lot was full, but someone pulled out to leave right as I got to their location). So I headed out for a hike up into the hills, along a string of four mountain lakes. Here is Bear Lake:
Before beginning the ascent, I walked in a circle around Bear Lake. Here is the view from the other side:
About half a mile away and up from Bear Lake was Nymph Lake:
A bit further on the trail, you could see Nymph Lake again from an overlook:
Here is some snow up close and touchable (a nice cool and refreshing feel between your fingers or toes on July 25th):
Another ways on was Dream Lake:
Continuing on the trail, there was an elk grazing very near the path. Here he is looking up from his meal:
After a few minutes, the elk walked down onto the path itself!
The end of my trek that day was Emerald Lake:
Here you can see the emerald-colored water that gives the lake its name:
It began to rain lightly as I headed back down the mountainside to Bear Lake. The elk had moved on by the time I reached his former position, but I did talk with some people who had had to climb up into the woods (the other option would have been to jump in the lake), in order to get around the elk in their path.
I stopped for a picnic at this spot, in Beaver Meadows:
I continued along Trail Ridge Road, which is the “highest continuous paved road in North America”, according to this sign from the highest visitor center in the US:
The sign shows them plowing through 35-foot snow drifts to re-open Trail Ridge Road at the beginning of a typical summer. Here is the highest elevation sign I could get a photo of, though the road actually gets about 100 feet higher:
Here is the view from Trail Ridge Road near that sign:
One interesting feature along the road was the Lava Cliffs:
And then, for at least the fifth time this summer, I crossed the Continental Divide:
This particular place on the Divide has very simple water drainage, and connects back to many rivers I have crossed on this trip (in fact: all but the first smallest creeks in each direction I have posted pictures of). The Mississippi, the Missouri, the Platte, and the Colorado Rivers. So perhaps some of the water I saw in those rivers came from snow melting on this very spot, one drop flowing east while the next drop flows west!
After leaving Rocky Mountain National Park, I headed into Denver. I saw this sign with what seems like a relatively unassuming claim:
However, it takes on a bit more of an edge when you look across the street to another burger joint, also in the 300 block of East Colfax Street:
Confused by the logical contradiction in the two claims, I did not avail myself of the chance to test out their veracity; I ate instead at a Mexican restaurant.
Right along Colfax Street in downtown Denver is also (and even more famously than the burger places) the Colorado State Capitol: