Thursday, June 28, 2018

Paradise on the River, May 24 to June 2, 2018

Rating:  4.0 on a scale of 5

Location: This is a fantastic location due to its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park, but also because it is right next to the Big Thompson River. We saw elk crossing the river and in the forests on numerous occasions. Each of the RV sites and cabins along the river all of individual decks with table and chairs. Multiple good restaurants are nearby as well as a small grocery store (although we usually went to the Safeway on the other side of Estes Park). It was a great home base for visiting RMNP and the surrounding area. 

Lot size: When we first arrived, I was concerned that our lot (#2) was too small. But the guys that work here, help direct you in and our of your site. 

Our private deck over the river was just fantastic! We could hear the soothing sound of rushing water in our bedroom at night, loved it. 

One downside was that our site only had 30-amp service. We, of course, have a 50 to 30-amp converter, but it means that we have to be manage how we use our air conditioning, microwave, and other utilities that use a lot of amps. It was not, however, a problem for us during our stay because we never needed both air conditioners going at the same time.

In addition to the RV sites, there are numerous cabins (positioned along the river). 

Amenities:  The park provides cable TV (they provide a remote to use) and their wifi is relatively good. The 2-washer/2-dryer laundry was small but adequate (get quarters from the office). 

There is a covered sitting area next to the for guests to use. A strip of grass near the fence, was a the doggy park area (bags provided). Sadie loved it there. It was located near the cabin where our friends, Angela and John, were staying.

Since we were having our refrig repaired during one of the weeks we were there, it was convenient to have plenty of ice ($2.50/bag) available (day and night) to keep our food cold. 

Cost: $962/15 nights; $64/night

Management: The people that work here are great. Everyone is very helpful, cheerful, and friendly. It sets the tone for the entire park! Paradise on the River is beautifully maintained with flowering plants everywhere, thanks to the staff. 

We loved all of the tree carvings in the park. 

General Comments:  While the entire park is tight, it is all manageable because of the wonderful staff that work here. Our friends rented a cabin (Antler Pointe) for a week while we were at Paradise on the River. It was a really nice “tiny house” with an upscale kitchen and bathroom, one bedroom, and large sitting area. They had a large L-shaped deck with great views of the river. It was so convenient for us to be close to each other during our shared vacation in Estes Park. 

Ultimately, the reason I rated this park a 4 (instead of 5) is because of the cost for a back-in site with 30 amp service. Of course, the river view was well worth the back-in. We usually do not spend this much. When we were looking for a place to stay with nice RV sites AND cabins, Paradise on the River fit the bill. We had a very enjoyable stay here (except for our refrigeration issue!) 


Monday, June 25, 2018

Refrigerator Repair...Cha-Ching!, 6/01/2018

Last Saturday over the Memorial Day Weekend, we awoke to a non-functioning refrigerator. We have a 4-door Norcold with an ice maker. After calling several mobile RV repair services (with no luck due to the holiday weekend), we checked with the office at Paradise on the River for recommendations. They suggested Gary’s RV Service (970-372-7033). 

Gary made a service call to check out the situation. Sure enough, we needed a new cooling unit for the refrigerator. We considered replacing the entire unit ($5,000+), but opted for the replacement of the cooling unit ($2,000+ including installation). The RV refrigerators are so expensive because they automatically switch between electricity when we have power (50 amp) and propane when we don’t. Some opt for a residential refrigerator (will not run on propane), but we decided to stick with the Norcold. 

The part could not be ordered until thee days later (Tuesday) after Memorial Day. When we asked about an overnight delivery, we learned we needed a 90-pound cooling unit that essentially fits on the entire back side of the refrigerator. Freight shipping was the only option. And a delivery on Friday, June 1, was the earliest delivery date. 

We purchased dry-ice for the freezer food and cleaned out the refrig, putting most remaining stuff in the cooler. When we tried to purchase more dry ice, the local Safeway store was out. And there was nowhere else in Estes Park (or within a 30 mile radius) that had any. We tried to eat all of the stuff that thawed, but had to throw out some.

Our plans were to leave Estes Park Friday, June 1, but we were able to extend our stay by just one night at Paradise on the River. Fortunately, the cooling unit arrived Friday afternoon and Gary brought it to the RV for installation (which took 4-5 hours). In the second photo, you can see all the way to the other side of the RV through the access panel (where the refrig should be!)

The refrigerator had to be pulled out onto the floor of the RV to install the part. You can see our alternate cooling unit (the red cooler) in the background. 

We were so thankful that we found Gary to do this repair for us. He knew exactly what he was doing and had replaced Norcold cooling units on many occasions. He came back over Saturday morning to make sure everything was working properly (and it was). The total cost was well over $2,000, but a refrigerator/freezer is not something we wanted to do without!  Our motor coach is a 2011 model, so we did not expect this repair at this stage of the game. Hopefully, our new cooling unit will continue working for many years. 

Thanks to Gary for his flexibility in fitting us into his schedule and working Friday night to install the cooling unit. He was great and we highly recommend him for virtually any repair.

Farewell to Estes Park. We departed for Grand Junction, CO, Saturday morning with everything in order. Yay!

Beaver Meadows to Grand Lake on Trail Ridge, 5/30/2018

Even though this is our second visit to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), we have never been to the western portion of the park. So, today, we decided to drive to Grand Lake from the Beaver Meadows entrance on Trail Ridge Road (Rte 34). Below is a map that shows the route we took.

We stopped at Forest Canyon, hoping to see some yellow-bellied marmots (as we have seen them here in the past). No luck with the marmots, but there are awesome  views of the canyon and tundra from here. 

The trail to the overlook is still snow-covered, but that did not deter any of us from walking out to it.

As we were driving past Rock Cut, we saw this coyote cross the road. Check out his thick winter coat! At first we thought he was a wolf (as coyotes on the east coast are much smaller than the ones who live in the Rockies).

Continuing on Trail Ridge Road, our next stop was Lake Irene past the Continental Divide. There is a lovely picnic area here, but the trail to the lake was obscured by snow. I did catch a glimpse the frozen lake though the trees. 

Farview Curve is the next overlook along Trail Ridge. Below is the view to the east and, the second, is the view to the west (Never Summer Mountains). 

There are multiple trailheads accessible from Trail Ridge Road (Colorado River, Timber Lake, Bowen/Baker Trailhead) from Farview Curve to the Coyote Valley Trailhead. We hiked this .5 mile trail that offered views of the upper Colorado River. We have seen this river in so many states! It was fun to see it near its source in the Rocky Mountains. 

It’s just a short walk to the nearby meadows where we saw elk grazing in the distance. 

We stopped at Harbison Meadows picnic area to eat lunch. 

The first homesteaders here were two sisters (Annie and Kitty Harbison), who began a dairy farm here in 1895 that they operated for 30 years. There were, also, several herds of elk grazing in here.

Past the Grand Lake Entrance Station is Kawuneeche Visitor Center (the fourth visitor center at RMNP). This is our first visit to it (and you know I love visitor centers!)

We checked out the displays inside. One lists the differences in the ecosystem on the east and west side of the Continental Divide that runs through the park. The second one provides information about the Colorado River that drains to the west of the divide.

From the Visitor Center we drove around a portion of Grand Lake to the Adams Falls Trail at East Inlet. It is a short (.3 mile each way) hike to the falls, but several other trailheads are here as well. 

These falls are so interesting. The water rushes down the small gorge and then makes a 90-degree left turn. An observation area enables visitors to get a good view of the falls.

While returning to the parking lot, we saw this squirrel eating a dandelion (too cute). 

Retracing our route, we made a quick stop at Grand Lake Lodge, the historic hotel located on the lake. Touring cars used at RMNP by the lodge are on display in the parking lot. 

The lobby is reminiscent of many other national park structures in the western parks.  

The view of Grand Lake was fantastic from the front porch where guests can enjoy the rocking chairs. 

We re-entered RMNP at the Grand Lake Entrance and drove straight through to the Beaver Meadows exit and then to our campground (less than a mile from the eastern entrance). If you have the time, it is fun to see the western part of the park. It is really quite different from the eastern side. Both, though, are beautiful. This is one of our favorite National Parks. 

For additional information about RMNP, go to