Rocky Mountain National Park
I wish I could say that I’m such an avid landscape photographer that I would seek and hunt down the world’s greatest sceneries no holds barred.

But in truth I was merely seeking the cheapest place to visit this summer that the family hasn’t been to yet and was surprised that it was actually cheaper to fly to Denver from New York than it was to some parts of the east coast.

I also didn’t know if Rocky Mountain retained its alps during the summer so I was surprised when a fellow passenger pointed out the snow-capped mountains in the distance when our plane was about to land in Denver.

At the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, I thought we would only reach a spot on the ground where all the tourists go and take the same pictures and that would be that. To my surprise, we were allowed to drive all the way up to the top -- all 12,000 feet of it -- and frolic in the snow just when New York City was experiencing its second hottest day on record.

And driving up the mountains -- no hiking involved -- involved curves that offered new vistas at every turn and landscapes that perhaps no other photographer has yet captured. The photographic opportunities were limitless!

So Denver was surprise after surprise. There was a surprise at every turn both literally and figuratively.

I guess the only downside after seeing Rocky Mountain National Park is that most other sceneries in life become somewhat pale by comparison. So I’m guessing this is how serious landscape photographers get their start. After seeing something like Rocky Mountain National Park with a camera in hand -- easily one of the most beautiful places on earth -- like a shot of adrenaline any lowly photographer would be so inclined as to dream of pooling all of life’s earnings to achieve one goal only: to seek and hunt down the world’s greatest sceneries -- no holds barred.

Click on a picture to enlarge.
On the highway to Rocky Mountain is a rest area strategically placed at the top of an incline to offer the visitor a view of what's to come -- snow-capped mountains.
As soon as we paid the $20-per-vehicle admission (good for one week), we stopped to snap some pictures.
The highway kept going up. As we achieved some elevation a little a time, we stopped to take more pictures.
We saw a small stream probably created by melting snow.
I followed the stream and took this picture of the road below.
Inside the alpine woods.
The alps kept getting closer.
We’re level with the snow that caps the mountain.
Some drives were actually pretty scary if you#8217;re not used to looking down a steep ravine on one side of the road with no barriers to keep you from falling.
We did#8217;nt really expect to reach the top. Yet we did.
Climate is harsh enough to prevent trees from growing.
I remember reading the phrase “above the tree line” on various signs at Rocky Mountain National Park. The first few times it didn#8217;t make an impression. But after seeing it mentioned incessantly almost as if hammering the phrase inside the visitor#8217;s head, I paid attention. I then understood it to mean a certain elevation -- about 11,000 feet on Rocky Mountain (it varies in different earth regions) -- where the climate becomes too harsh for trees to grow. The highest elevation that sustains trees is called the “alpine” and the terrain is called the “alpine tundra”. (source: The line where trees stop growing -- and where the alpine tundra starts -- can be clearly seen here taken from above 11,000 feet.
Parking lot at the top of the world.
I was actually praying for clouds before our trip to Rocky Mountain for more dramatic shots. I didn't think my prayer would actually be answered. Either that, or clouds that add drama are the norm at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Sun was setting... we headed back down.
This bend in the road was the first realization that we can touch the snow. We saw many people going up. But it was a steep climb. The people were careful going up and slow going down. So we passed. At the rate things were going, we were pretty sure there'd be more snow up ahead.
Sure enough, there was. “Above the tree line” you just walk to it. Vi took this picture.
New York City was having its second hottest day on record while we were at Rocky Mountain National Park. So while many of our friends were melting in the heat, we were out frolicking in the snow.
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