Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Scenic Drive (Highway 7 S to Highway 36 N) - 7/15/14

In an Estes Park Visitor Guide that I picked up at the Visitor Center when we first arrived here had recommendations for two majestive drives: Mountain Peak Splendor and Pioneers and Pathways. After getting some chores done this morning, we decided to check out the Mountain Peak Splendor route (as the weather was overcast and we did prefer to hike in the morning).

From Estes Park we took Mary's Lake Road to Route 7 towards Allenspark. Below are photos from the spots where we stopped.

When I started walking toward Mary's Lake, I startled this doe that was foraging in the area. She was only about 5 feet away from me!

View from Mary's Lake.

Sadie discovered some critter in this crevice ...

We pulled her away before finding out what it was...

Heading south on Colorado Highway 7.

Lily Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park).

Chipmunks everywhere!

This one came right up to John and put his paws on his hand (hoping to get food, I'm sure). John just had some paper in his hand, but these critters are so used to visitors.

The St. Catherine of Sienna Chapel (aka Chapel on the Rock).  Msg. Joseph J. Bosetti an avid mountaineer) saw a fiery meteor fall from the sky in 1916 to the base of Mt. Meeker. He searched for the meteor but was never able to find it. He did, however, discover an impressive rock formation and vowed to build a chapel on the site (as he believed the meteor was a sign from God). The man who owned the site (Malo) donated the land and in 1934 gave $90k to build the main lodge for a religious center plus an additional $15k for the camp's stone chapel.

Dedicated in 1935.

View of the chapel from the side. Can you see that huge rock upon which it is built?

Sculpture of Christ erected in 1916. It is located atop a rock formation just north of the chapel.

In 1993 Pope John Paul II came across the chapel while en route to Denver and stopped to see the beautiful church. He gave his personal blessings to the chapel (as well as to the surprised tourists that happened to be there at the time).

In 2011 there was a terrible fire that destroyed the St. Malo Center but the chapel was not damaged. In severe floods in September, 2013, did severe damage to the area surrounding the chapel, but, once again, the chapel did not suffer any structural damage. Today weddings are still held at the chapel, but the fate of St. Malo Center is undecided.

Continuing on Highway 7 towards Lyons, the road follows the course of the South Saint Vrain Creek. This area was seriously damaged by the 2013 floods, but road work has been underway for quite some time (and will continue). The debris along the creek including destroyed homes were evidence of devastating flooding. However, the beauty of the creek and surrounding landscape remain.

South Saint Vrain Creek.

Loved these purple flowers.

And beautiful rock formations.

Views along Highway 36 North towards Estes Park.

Arrival at Estes Park.


Even though it rained on and off during our drive, we loved the scenery. This part of the country is just gorgeous.

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