Monday, October 16, 2017

Rifle Falls State Park

Just 25 miles west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where my husband and I spent a few days enjoying our anniversary, was the 48 acre large Rifle Falls State Park.  Here, in this limestone and travertine grotto are triple seventy foot waterfalls that run year round from East Rifle Creek.

One of my daughter's neighbors camped in this area this summer and I was amazed by her photos of the falls, and wanted to see them myself.  This area is very popular in summer and the parking lot fills up quickly, but since our visit took place in October we almost had the park to ourselves on a beautiful fall day.

 We were able to walk right up to the falls...

 ...and even behind them for a bit....

...where there was a bench to sit on to watch the water fall. 

We walked to the other side where I took this photo....

...and this video. Turn on the sound to hear the power of the water!

The Coyote Trail on the right side of the falls is a 1.5 mile trail that winds past limestone walls...

..and past many caves.

Most of the caves had a low entrance and would require one to crawl so a flashlight and old jeans would be handy if one wants to do this. We were not that adventurous..

There was one cave that had a high entrance that we walked into to look around.

We continued to hike on the trail upwards...

...until we were able to walk across a bridge that went over Rifle Creek.

There we could see areas where the water went over the ledge... form the waterfalls!

There was a viewing platform on top where we had a wonderful overlook at the falls and all the lush greenery that surrounds them.

If you'd like to see a video of how the falls look and sound from this vantage point go to my Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook Page, at this link, or you can see it on my Instagram page here If you follow my Instagram you will see I share many more photos of Colorado, my other travels, and daily life.

Rifle Falls State Park has year round camping sites. Check out the park's website at this link for further information.

Adjacent to Rifle State Park is Rifle Gap State Park, a 350 acre reservoir, with clear aquamarine water.

It is a reservoir popular for swimming, boating, windsurfing, water skiing and fishing. Anglers can catch rainbow trout and German brown trout, walleye, yellow pike, and largemouth and smallmouth bass and perch. Migrating waterfowl can also be seen. There are 89 campsites available by reservation at Rifle Gap State Park, and many picnic areas.

We enjoyed our side trip to Rifle State Park and seeing this NW part of Colorado. We weren't done taking side trips on this long weekend get away, however, come back next time to see some more beautiful scenery and a hiking feat that I almost thought I could not accomplish, but did!

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Maroon Bells in the Aspen Snowmass Wilderness

My husband and I celebrated an anniversary recently, and spent a few days in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. While we were there I wanted to take a side trip to the Aspen Snowmass area where the iconic Maroon Bells Mountains are located.  We began our drive early in the morning on CO 82 East passing beautiful autumn scenery along the way.

Although peak autumn color was probably a week before, there were still plenty of color to light up the hills in shades of gold.....

...and a few reds and oranges were also in the mix, making a lovely patchwork quilt of tree color.

When we turned onto to Maroon Creek Road, County Road 13, to approach the USDA Forest Service Snowmass Wilderness Area where Maroon Bells are located, I was very excited to see their peaks in the distance!

We were fortunate to be able to drive into the Snowmass Wilderness area to see the Maroon Bells Scenic area, as between June 11 and Oct 2 only shuttle buses are allowed to bring visitors between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM, due to the high volume of visitors. Shuttle bus information can be found on the USDA White River National Forest web site at this link.  We visited at a later date in October so we were able to drive in, and our America the Beautiful Senior Pass was accepted as payment.

Driving along the aspen tree lined road was beautiful.

The pristine White River National Forest was filled with color

All the while I could see the Maroon Bells peaks in the distance beneath a blue sky.

The 14,000 foot Maroon Bell Mountains are the most photographed mountains in North America. They lie in a glacial valley with Maroon Lake in front of them that often reflects the mountains on a clear weather day.  The mountains are part of the Elk Mountain Range and are composed of metamorphic sedimentary mudstone that has hardened into rock over millions of years.  The mudstone gives the mountains their maroon color, and their triangular shape gives them their name.

After parking, we looked at the information placards...

...and then began walking on a short trail towards the mountains.  I noticed the blue sky we saw on the drive in quickly being replaces by heavy clouds

Finally, my first full view of the maroon Bell Mountains! Maroon Lake was not mirror like due to the weather, and the blue sky had disappeared, so my photos would not win any awards, but I was too excited to care.

I've seen so many photos of these mountains that seeing them in person was a thrill for me! 

This was the view to their right...

...and to their left....

....and the view looking back to where most people stand to take the mountain's photo, along the shore of Maroon Lake.  There can be hundreds of photographers there lined up here at dawn, to take their photo as the sunrise lights them in alpenglow.

There are many scenic hiking trail options in the area and we took the easiest trail along the lake towards the mountains to get a closer view.

 The autumn aspen color was still strong in this area and made a beautiful forefront for the mountains.

There was a foot bridge at the end of the lake, leading towards a continuation of the trail.

As we crossed over the bridge it began to snow!  I was so excited to see it snowing heavily on the mountains, as snowflakes also drifted toward us.

The mountains became almost impossible to see, due to the snow white out.  It was such a beautiful sight and an experience I'll always remember.

We waited awhile, but the snow continued, so we walked back towards the parking lot, taking a few last looks at the mountains in all their changing season magnificence.

I was very happy to have visited this area of Colorado in the fall season, and to be able to check off a sight on my list of places I've been wanting to see for a long time. We had some other long awaited adventures on our anniversary trip, and I'll be showing them on a future post!

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