Rocky Mountain – Kawuneeche

(Grand Lake CO)
The west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Kawuneeche Valley, promised abundant wildlife and fewer tourists. Both were appealing to me. Together with a ‘first-come’ campground at the foot of the 12,000ft plus Never Summer Mountains I was hopeful for a rewarding few days.

Mountains, river, trees

Rocky Mountain National Park – Kawuneeche Valley

The Arapaho called it Kawuneeche, meaning valley of the coyote. And, Never Summer Mountains because it remained cool, and the high peaks were usually snow-capped the year round. Things have changed as there was little snow, and no coyote were seen or heard.

Never Summer Ranch
It was a short one mile hike from the campground to see the Never Summer Ranch. A family had homesteaded with intentions to ranch. However, the father broke his hip while working the fields. So, the plan changed and it became a dude ranch with rental cabins, fishing in the Colorado River, hunting, and horseback riding in the surrounding mountains. It became a popular destination after the Trail Ridge Road was built over the mountains.

Log cabins, trees

Never Summer Ranch Cabins

Wash bowl, chair

Wash-up table in cabin

Shed, trees

Wood shed at the ranch

Colorado River Headwaters
Another hike from camp followed the Colorado River to its headwaters. No bigger than a creek, it meandered through a marshy area northward in the valley. I walked for about an hour and a half hoping to perhaps see moose; but, no luck for me. The Beaver Ponds were along the way. However, there was no sign of beaver or their work.

River, mountains, trees

Colorado River near headwaters

River, log, rocks

River no bigger than a creek

Ponds, mountains, trees

Beaver Ponds

Big Meadow
A two mile one-way hike up the mountain with a 1200ft increase in elevation took me to Big Meadow. The ranger said that elk and moose could usually be seen there. At about 10,000ft, I was hopeful to find them; but, none showed up. My timing was off, or they were gathering elsewhere.

Boulder, trees

Boulder along the trail

Mountain, meadow, creek

Big Meadow stream

Meadow, mountains, creek, wildflowers

Big Meadow and mountains

I chose the west side of the park because it was promoted as the best chance to see wildlife. Perhaps it was the wrong time of year; or I didn’t get far enough into the mountains. I was disappointed as I only saw a few birds, and a couple of squirrels during my entire visit.

Camp: Rocky Mountain NP-Timber Creek CG
Scene: Mountains, river, ranch, meadow

Also see: Rocky Mountain-Alpine and Rocky Mountain-Adams Falls

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4 Responses to Rocky Mountain – Kawuneeche

  1. gumo September 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    I sure am enjoying your most recent entries from some beautiful landscapes and very interesting historical spots. I keep a record of places bloggers visit that would interest me in later trips and your blog has a lot of my spot to see. Thanks for sharing with us and keeping us posted on your travels.

  2. Pleinguy September 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    Glad you’ve enjoyed the posts Norm. Hope you get to visit some of those fabulous places. Your blog has also helped me. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Judie Ashford September 3, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    This area has special meaning for me. There is a quiet type of peacefulness. Maybe it is because it is one of the first places where I encountered this sort of terrain, and it is the “yardstick”, so to speak, to measure all others that have come along since.

    Virtual hugs,

    • Pleinguy September 3, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

      May these photos and narrative bring some of that peace back to you. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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