|Independence Pass CO|
All the mapping software takes you this way as it's the shortest route, so we had to force our GPS by giving it other towns to go through. This meant we had to drive the long way around and approach Aspen from the north, going through places like Vail. The colours going down the I-70 were spectacular. Roadworks at one of the tunnels added another hour to our trip as we were at a standstill for a while and just as we got to the tunnel they were packing up!
We hadn't decided when we would leave the Rocky Mountains so I didn't want to book a campsite. There seemed to be many sites available that would accommodated us, but four days out we were unable to see or book anything so we just had to keep our fingers crossed. Going around the first loop there was nothing but small sites. I was in trouble. I walked the next loop and found only one that was promising. It was a pull through but Lindsay couldn't get the trailer in as it was just too tight. He was however able to back in - just, and it was a tight fit. This is the first National Forest campground we have been to and it will probably be our last. They just aren't made for 5th Wheels.
|This is probably how they got their name, in the morning glow they are sort of maroon|
Maroon Bells is best photographed in the morning but we went up the night before just to have a look. The road to the Bells is closed between 8am and 5pm to reduce the traffic. To see it during the day you need to take a special tour bus. Useless for us as we wanted to be there at 5am. Outside these hours you need a permit aka an entrance fee - they actually open at 7am, but I guess the people who come in beforehand get in free. Our annual National Parks pass covered us, so we were in there legally. At our campsite, there is zero reception for CDMA or digital so it was lucky that I did some research while we were in Estes.
|Just passed the ghost town of Ashcroft|
|When the sun broke it kissed the top of the bells, but that is about as far down as it came|
|It was like Colorado was embracing Australia's olympic colours|
The next morning at 5:30am, there were no queues, but the carpark was already half full. You needed a torch to see where you were going and there were quite a number of photographers already there. I wasn't totally happy with my pictures so we went again the next morning but half an hour earlier as we had heard that there would be two photographic workshops there.
|Yes, the stars were still out when we arrived both times|
Difficult Campground (National Forest)