We will travel by van over the highest Federal Highway in the U.S.: Trail Ridge Road. Morning hike, Ute Trail, 3 miles, elevation gain 800 feet, highest elevation, 12,150 feet. Afternoon several short interpretive hikes to viewpoints along highway
Breakfast at local restaurant
Today you will travel on Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the U.S. We will start in the Montane ecosystem, below 9,000 ft, travel to the Subalpine, 9,000-11,400 ft, and end up in the Alpine ecosystem above 11,400 ft. We’ll drive to the Ute Trail and hike for several hours. This is an out and back hike. You’ll experience the beauty of the alpine tundra and beautiful views. It’s important to stay on the trail because plants are very fragile in this harsh environment. We’ll get back in the van and drive to the Alpine Visitor center. It’s a great place to look at the views, shop in the gift shop and eat lunch outside.
Picnic box lunch at Alpine Visitor Center or adjacent location depending upon weather.
On our way back we’ll take a short hike at high altitude on the tundra trailhead. Hopefully, we’ll see herds of elk along the road. If there is interest we’ll stop by the Alluvial Fan. In 1982 a dam broke and washed down rocky debris creating alluvial fan. Return to motel.
Dinner in local restaurant
Short "debrief" on today's hike and planning for tomorrow then time for reflection, relaxation