The last few lines of Robert Frost’s wonderful poem “The Road Not Taken” completely summed up our last and final day on our US Western road trip which we spent at Rocky Mountain National Park:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
There are basically two ways to drive to the top of Fall River Pass and the Alpine Visitor Center – the paved, scenic byway known as Trail Ridge Road or the gravel-one-way-only-formerly-an-Indian-trail road known as Old Fall River Road. Guess which one we took?? And like Frost’s poem, it made all the difference.
When we stopped at the Fall River Visitor Center, the park ranger convinced me that taking the slower, less populated (as well as motorcycle free) road was worth the trip.
Driving slowly (as in 15 miles/hour), I slowly edged my way up, hugging the side of the mountain when I could because there was no guard rail. The views were amazing and we found ourselves stopping often.
Our first break was to explore a waterfall.As the boys scrambled up and over rocks, my oldest decided to get a little TOO up-close and personal and fell in. Shaking my head, I threw him the keys to our car and he changed into whatever clothes he could easily find in the suitcases before continuing his adventure.
The road was steep and although we found ourselves gasping at the scenery, I didn’t feel comfortable pulling over until we reached a flatter area and a mountain meadow. I truly think it was impossible to take a bad picture in this people-free area.
Soon after, we entered into the alpine tundra zone where snow never melts – even in the heat of the summer.
We continued to inch our way up to the top, the Alpine Visitor Center within sight until finally . . . we were there.
As we searched for a spot in a parking lot crammed full of motorcycles, tour buses, cars, and RV trailers, I silently thanked the park ranger for her recommendation to take the “road less taken.”
[box]Both the Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road are open seasonally. Check at park visitor centers to see whether they are open when you visit. [/box]
Next up: Our last stop on our US western road trip . . .