The first of April is very early spring at 7,500 feet in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, but we had a lovely time in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Even though most of the plants were dormant, they were beautiful--
Aspen (Populus tremuloides) leafless for a few more weeks
|cattail, Typha sp.|
|unidentified, possibly as small sunflower|
certainly a member of that family
Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) with the reddish willows in the background
|Rocky Mountain juniper|
The snow had mostly melted off the ground, but while we were there snow showers fell, lightly dusting everything with a layer of white. The daytime temperatures were in the 40s, so the snow quickly melted off.
Since it was so early in the year, the city of Estes Park was still in winter mode. Many stores and restaurants were closed for the season or opened only on weekends. We quickly learned to check to see what was open. On the other hand, the crowds of summer were missing, so driving and parking were easy and in the shops and restaurants everyone was relaxed and welcoming.
I asked, when I could, about recovery from the floods of 2013. There was a period last fall when Estes Park was pretty cut off, with several of the roads in and out destroyed by the flooding and the rest open but very slow going due to road damage. That was months ago, though, and the major routes are open. The people I talked to mostly spoke of things returning to normal. There are still unrepaired roads farther out into the mountains and in many cases home repairs have a long way to go, but recovery is well under way. My observations driving to Estes Park through Big Thompson Canyon matched that: we saw lots undercut banks, fallen pines and some damaged houses along the river, but Route 34 was fine.