A socially distant vacation
Over the first half of the last 12 months I was fortunate to be able to take several trips. From October to January I went to 3 different islands in the Caribbean. I was finally working an adult job and getting adult paychecks, but as a nurse I would find myself with 4-6 days off at a time.
Then came Covid-19. My job got crazier than ever. Not to mention, travel restrictions limited air travel and opportunities for tourism and travel. The tourism and hospitality industry has taken a major hit during the pandemic. I patiently awaited the day when I would feel comfortable enough with the social norms and mandates of our new reality to travel again. Covid-19 quickly made it clear for us in the United States that we would not have many opportunities to travel internationally in the near future. However, that hasn’t stopped many Americans from exploring the gorgeous landscapes of our own country.
This is where I feel I need to be honest about something. As much experience as I feel I have had traveling, I am guilty of a major fault in my experience. Being from North Carolina, on the east coast, I had never been west of Tennessee (excluding AK and HI). I have been to almost twice as many countries as I have states in the U.S. In many ways, I believed this pandemic would limit my travel experiences, but it also inspired me to stop neglecting the beautiful destinations and journeys within my own country.
One of those beautiful (and social distant) destinations was Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. My two best friends have taken several trips out west recently, camping and exploring America’s national parks. They inspired me to take my first trip to a national park, and it did not disappoint!
There are many different drives and hikes you can take at Rocky Mountain National Park. Here is what I did, and would recommend anyone who is visiting the park to do too.
My friend and I hiked the Emerald Lake Trail from the Bear Lake Trailhead, stopped at Bear Lake, passed by Nymph Lake, and also visited Chasm Lake before reaching the final gem in our journey, Emerald Lake. This hike was the perfect mixture of views, distance, and difficulty.
We also drove down Trail Ridge Road. Side note, I would highly recommend having a car to get around while in Colorado, whether it’s your own or a rental. Trail Ridge Road is the main scenic byway in the park and is 48 miles long, 11 miles above treeline. The road can get a little narrow, and there were steep drop offs without guardrails; so we had to take the drive very carefully. However, the views are amazing! The highest elevation is 12,183 ft. At Milner Pass you will cross the continental divide. Along this drive you will get views of Wyoming to the north, the Great Plains to the east, and the Rockies to the south and west. It takes about 2 hours to drive each way and is worth every minute.
Pro tip! If you are traveling out west and are looking for an extra socially distant destination visit Wyoming. The population density is only 5.85 people per square mile!