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5.30.2009 - 36 comments 

Not too far from the location of my last post from Denver, Colorado is a place called Estes Park, Colorado and it is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park which just happens to be one of those National Parks that should be experienced rather than just viewed. But frankly, the viewing is perhaps as staggering to the eye as many of the other National Parks in the United States.

Although having said that, I still plan to upload several of my favorite shots of the park along with this post. But, as you can see from these pictures, the park itself has a very diverse population of not only plants and trees, but also of animals who inhabit the park in almost every corner of its huge size and the fact that it's also a living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, with its elevations ranging from 8,000 feet in the wet, grassy valleys to 14,259 feet at the weather-ravaged top of Longs Peak, provides visitors like us with opportunities for countless breathtaking experiences and the many adventures to be found everywhere you look in the park. We also picnicked in the park, but I will spare you the shot of our picnic table, but it was right near to where I took the moose picture.

Throughout its 416 square miles of rock-ribbed wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park truly is a land of superlatives. Here you will find that at least 60 mountains exceed 12,000 feet, topping off at 14,259 feet on the football field-sized summit of Longs Peak. Names such as Cirrus, Chiefs Head, Isolation, Mummy, and Storm evoke the grandeur of this high landscape.

Among its many attributes, Rocky Mountain National Park has also been the home to Native Americans for at least the last 12,000 years. This even makes me feel young, but the remains of all the known prehistoric cultures except Folsom (ca. 10,000-8000 years ago) have been found in the park. The basic prehistoric sequence is Clovis (11,000–10,000); Folsom; Early, Middle and Late Archaic (7,500-2,000); and the Early, Middle, and Late Ceramic cultures (2,000 to 300).

The major inhabitants of the Park area in historic times were the Ute and Arapaho. Ute origins may have been in the Great Basin and/or the mountainous areas of the State and we strongly suspect that Uto-Aztecan speaking ancestors of the Ute have occupied the Colorado Mountains for at least 6,000 years. The Apache appear to have been in the park for at least 400 years as based on the presence of their pottery and historical accounts of a battle with the Arapaho in the 1830s in Upper Beaver Meadow.

The Arapaho homeland was originally in Minnesota, and they migrated into Colorado by about 1790. No less than 36 place names in the Park are of Arapaho origin. By about 1880, the Ute had been moved to reservations in Colorado and Utah, and the Arapaho to Oklahoma and Wyoming. Due to the high altitude and severe winters, occupation for these hunter-gatherers in the park was confined to the warmer months. Major occupation may have been in the fall of the year when the high altitude elk game drives were in operation. Present evidence indicates that winter occupation was at lower altitude along the Front Range, and in Middle and North Parks.

Historic archeological sites include the remains of roads, resorts, ranches, mines, mining towns, cabins, sawmills, water control structures, three CCC camps, signs, and several old National Park Service campgrounds and entrance stations. Some 400 prehistoric and 600 historic archeological sites have been recorded thanks to a five year long survey of the park by the University of Northern Colorado.

Although the great peaks comprise the essence of the park, the delicate alpine flowers, clear lakes, rushing mountain waters, and impressive forests appeal to all the senses. An array of wildlife - bighorn sheep, ptarmigan, coyote, elk all adds life to the landscape almost around every corner. As you can see I caught a few shots of many of those my self as well as a marmot which look a lot like the woodchuck I found in my yard last summer. Can you see it on the rocks in the first (top) shot? Well, if you can't a also put in a closer shot down below.

The wide variety of elevations and habitats create a choice of activities for visitors. From scenic drives and short strolls along a gentle trail to more ambitious daylong hikes to vertical mountain climbs, Rocky Mountain National Park offers many ways to experience nature in all of its splendor.

Going to the highest point of the road that runs through the park from a starting point in Boulder Colorado then up to Estes Park then on to the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station of the park we went all the way through the park from visitor center to visitor center and finally exited the park out of the Southwestern corner of the park which finally lead us down to Grand Lake and eventually south back to Highway 70.

This day long auto trip through the park made for a whole day of stopping and looking over the views of the valleys below and seeing the interesting wildlife around almost every corner of this wonderful park.

I can’t wait for another trip around and through this wonderful National Park someday in the not too distant future.

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."~ Barry Goldwater



5.01.2009 - 23 comments 

As many of you know, when Mrs. LZ and I are in a different (either medium or large sized) town, we usually try and venture out to check out the local botanical garden to see what they have to offer. Some of these have turned out to be real treasures and not always necessarily expected.

I would say that was exactly the way we thought about our experience at the Denver Botanic Gardens. We were not expecting anything as nice or certainly as large as perhaps the Chicago Botanic Gardens but also nothing as nice as what we found there.

The Denver Botanic Gardens are located at York Street right downtown between Cheeseman Park on the West and Congress Park on the Southeast of gardens. The gardens actually presents a very wide range of gardens and collections that illustrate an ever-widening diversity of plants from all corners of the world. Not just from the Colorado area. These distinctive gardens define and celebrate their Western identity and a unique high altitude climate and geography.

An additional uniqueness about the gardens here in Denver is that many of their innovative gardens are in fact models of drought-tolerance and they also showcase native and adapted plants that thrive in many Western gardens in several of the adjoining states.

Throughout the Denver Botanic Gardens, there are time honored traditions of European horticulture merged with a dynamic diversity of plants and design that represent the best in local horticultural achievement.

Denver Botanic Gardens is an accredited museum by the American Association of Museums, with scientifically documented living collections and two preserved collections. The garden’s Plant Records Department manages botanical and horticultural information for over 16,000 taxa (plural of the name applied to a taxonomic group in a formal system of nomenclature) in over 250 plant families.

While there we had to evade several little downpours, which could help explain my "less than normal" amount of photos. Of course it could be that I was just busy enjoying the beauty all around me.

This Denver Botanic Gardens was a hit in LZ's Places to see while you are in Denver.

"Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country." ~ Margaret Thatcher