62 Parks Traveler started with a simple purpose: to inspect every U.S. national park in one year. Avid backpacker and public-lands nerd Emily Pennington saved up, built out a tiny van to travel and live in, and hit the road. The commons as we know them are rapidly changing, and she wanted to see them before it’s too late.

Pennington has returned to traveling and is committed to following CDC guidelines during the COVID-1 9 pandemic to ensure the safety of herself and others. She’s visiting new ballparks and closely adhering to best safety practices.

At Rocky Mountain National Park, I had one thing on my spirit: alpine lakes. With a short amount of time to explore one of the country’s most popular commons, I shaped site visits a search to discover as many shine sapphire tarns as I could during my stay.

As home to 147 pools, 450 miles of streams, 355 miles of developed paths, and 124 worded peaks, this outdoor mecca is a big playground for diehard elevation junkies looking to rack up some horizontal increase and detonator it off with a polar plunge into fresh snowmelt.

I strong-armed my partner, Brian, to rise extra early for the hour drive in from Boulder, Colorado. Our mission was to nab a coveted parking recognize near Bear Lake and hike the most popular trail in the park, a 3.5 -mile stroll to Emerald Lake. At 8: 30 A.M ., the trail was already carried with day-trippers skidding all over the engulf June snow without a microspike in sight.

It was far from the idyllic scene I had envisioned of pixies feeding me grapes while I savor in the sunshine on the edge of a secluded mountain lagoon. Exasperated, I grabbed my things and tramped back down the trail.



Bierstadt Lake Trail

( Emily Pennington)

Fern Lake

( Emily Pennington)

Next on my schedule was Mills Lake in the Glacier Gorge section of the ballpark. While Brian napped in the van, I refilled my water bottle and went off with an ambitious goal of hastening through the 5.5 miles solo in merely two hours. It was time to burn some rubber.

My boots crunched along as I climbed past reverberate Alberta Falls, rock-hopping to avoid late-season minced potato blizzard. Though I was speed-walking on a tight timeline, the pond itself moved me stop dead in my tracks.

As a lifelong hiking aficionado, I can confidently say that this trail was one of my all-time top five. To my left, Longs Peak and its craggy thumbs, called the Keyboard of the Winds, protruded straight up into the vapours, while Chiefs Head Peak, an impose granite slab on the horizon, reigned the other half of my view. I could have readily stood and looked until nightfall, but I was expected back at the van.

Day two would be different. Armed with a hope, a Kindle, and a knapsack full of snacks, I rose early and drove through the honeyed morning illuminate in the Moraine Park area, progressing clusters of elk and wild turkeys along the way. My aim? Fern Lake.

I hiked up through a charred burn zone from the 2012 Fern Lake Fire, across a wooden bridge, and past a boom waterfall that scattered cool fog onto my necks. By the time I reached the lake’s gently lapping water, I was primary for eventual loosening. I eat an enormous lunch, cast off my boots, and sprawled out on the grass near the coast like a cat in a spot of sunlight.

After three hours of unencumbered ridge bliss, I was feeling brave, so I stripped down and leapt into the freezing water, sending a shock through my method that included my entire figure in goose bumps. Then something remarkable happened. Other parties hanging out by the lake began to jump in, extremely, shrieking and laughing at the morsel temperature. It was as though being loudly and publicly myself in the wild established others the excuse to do the same, and it was a jolly epic room to aim my lagoon quest.

The first one was too populace, the second too quick, but this one … this one was just right.

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62 Commons Traveler Rocky Mountain Info

Size: 265,769 acres

Location: Northern Colorado

Created In: 1915( national park)

Best For: Hiking, mountaineering, fishing, descending, panoramic drives, waterfalls, and wildlife viewing

Before You Go: The northern division of the park is currently closed due to wildfires. Check the National Park Service’s site for informs before you visit.

When to Go: Due to a wide range of raisings, Rocky Mountain’s weather runs wildly. Summer( 37 to 71 magnitudes) produces the best temperatures and the biggest bunches, while springtime( 16 to 53 positions) and autumn( 18 to 61 magnitudes) are quieter and good for lower-elevation employs. Winter( 11 to 31 magnitudes) is frigid but super for snow sports.( Temperatures scheduled were taken at the Bear Lake Ranger Station, raising 9,583 paws .)

Where to Stay: If you’re staying in Boulder and want to splurge, the St. Julien is an eco-friendly outlet hotel that’s merit your while( from $232 ). Enjoy post-hike spa therapies and incredible views of the Flatirons from your balcony. If you’re on a budget and looking to stay within the national park, Rocky Mountain offers many reservable campsites; nonetheless, Moraine Park Campground stands above the respite for its frequent elk sightings, year-round availability, and broad views of the neighboring high peaks.

Mini Adventure: Hike from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake. Go ultra early to avoid swarms of people, and enjoy an easy promenade through a thick-witted pine forest that spits you out at the foot of Hallett Peak’s superb alpine cirque. Keep an heart out for sneaky marmots.

Mega Adventure: If you’re looking for a strenuous trek and an up-close look at Longs Peak( the only fourteener within the park ), Chasm Lake is a splendid 8.5 -mile day hike. Topping out at 11,823 hoofs, the route affords tourists a great chance to check out subalpine and tundra zones.

Read more: outsideonline.com