Day 21 – Estes Park, CO

We were unable to get entrance tickets to Rocky Mountain National Park for today, so we leisurely explored the area outside the park.

A friend recommended we go to Estes Park, so we started the day driving there.  It’s funny, but I thought it was a park, but it a city named Estes Park.  We found a place to park on MacGregor Avenue near the Police station.  We walked down the hill and walked down Elkhorn Avenue mostly window shopping and looking for souvenirs.

In Estes Park we did the short hike in the Knoll-Willow Open Space in the heart of town.  We hiked up to the Birch Ruins and then back down again.  It was sprinkling a little as we walked back to the car.

Since tomorrow we have admission to Rocky Mountain National Park, we decided to drive to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center just outside the park.  A thunderstorm was rolling in as we waited in line to get into the Visitors Center.  It made a lot of noise, but no rain.  We made it inside, asked a few questions, did a little shopping, and then left.  As we were headed to the car, we changed course and decided to use the restroom before we left.  That is when the bottom dropped out.  It started raining and then the temperature dropped ten degrees.  Mixed in the rain was hail.  I took a brief video of the storm.

Next we drove to St Catherine’s Chapel on the Rock.  A small old church that is famous because St John Paul II said mass there in during his visit to Colorado for World Youth Day in 1993.

St Catherine’s Chapel on the Rocks

When we finished at the chapel it was late afternoon.  We decided to drive back to the hotel.  It’s a one hour drive on Highway 34 through Big Thompson Canyon.  It is a beautiful drive.  On our way back we saw a few Pronghorns walking down the road.

Pronghorns
Big Thompson Canyon

At the hotel we freshened up and looked for a place for dinner.  I’m in the mood for italian tonight.  Shari found Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano which was near the hotel at the Promenade Shops at Centerra not far from our hotel.  We chose a table on the patio.  The temperature is nice and the weather is dry, so it was nice to sit outside.  Albert and I both ordered pizza and Shari had a pasta dish.  It was all delicious.

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