Trip Report: Rocky Mountain National Park

January 29, 2023  |  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

There's something special about starting out on the trail in the pre-dawn hours, the temperatures well below freezing, a light snow falling. Headlamps switch on, illuminating the 15 feet in front of you. Snowshoes or spikes on, ensuring proper footing on the trail. cameras tucked away in our packs, ready to go when needed. Packs hitched up on our backs, we began heading up the trail to Dream Lake. And thus began my week in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Longs Peak is visible from the Dream Lake trail on a winter morning in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Longs Peak

Longs Peak, covered in a fresh dusting of snow and surrounded by a brilliant halo of sunlight filtering through the thin layer of clouds in Rocky Mountain National Park. The stunning scene is further enhanced by the presence of Otis Peak in the middle ground , adding depth and dimension to the breathtaking vista. Towering spruce, pine, and fir trees cover the rugged mountainsides, providing a lush and verdant contrast to the rugged peaks. This is a rare and unforgettable moment captured, and would make a magnificent fine art print for your home or office.

This image was taken on the Dream Lake trail on a winter morning in Rocky Mountain National Park. Longs Peak is the tallest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park at 14,259 feet.

It had been a goal of mine for some time, to visit Colorado in the winter and photograph the snow-covered peaks, frozen lakes, and pine trees looking like they were covered with whipped cream. Last week I wrote about my favorite spot in the park- Dream Lake. Truly one of the most beautiful spots I've ever seen. But there was so much more to the park than just Dream Lake.

At the overlook on the trail viewing Long's Peak.

At the overlook on the trail viewing Long's Peak.

Kristen Wilkinson and I did the hike to Dream Lake three times. There was just so much to offer there. Between abstract ice designs, wide vistas featuring Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, and more intimate landscapes, such as "Lone Pine", below.

A lone pine tree emerges from the snow on Flattop Mountain just above Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Solitary Spruce

A solitary spruce stands in majestic glory on the side of Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado - surrounded by a blanket of freshly fallen snow. The delicate tracery of the white-on-white scene brings a sense of beauty and harmony that is hard to find in our hectic modern world. Whether gracing a wall of your home, office, or adding to your art collection, this unique print will be a cherished reminder of a breathtaking moment in nature.

One morning, we met local photographer Stephen Hamm, who showed us Moraine Park and the Big Thompson River, which provided a fantastic foreground while blowing snow created a fog around the peaks in the distance as the sun filtered through, shown in "Blow Winter Wind", below. The wind that morning was blowing at about 20mph, and coming straight off the peaks. It took some time for the light to come up, but as with Dream Lake, there were a lot of photographic possibilities so we spent a couple of hours wandering in the area of Big Thompson River before heading to The Egg of Estes for a well-deserved breakfast.

The headwaters of Big Thompson River flow through Moraine Park as Knobtop Mountain and Stones Peak stand in the distance in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colo
Blow Winter Wind

The beauty of nature is immortalized in this stunning fine art print of the frozen headwaters of Big Thompson River flowing through Moraine Park as the majestic Knobtop Mountain and towering Stones Peak stand in the distance, snow billowing from the heights. This fine art print captures the beauty of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, in all its winter glory. Add a touch of rustic beauty to your space and enhance your home decor with this statement piece.

The headwaters of the Big Thompson River are frozen on a winter day in Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado.
Frozen Flow

This stunning, serene photograph of the Big Thompson River frozen in winter captures the incredible beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park - Steep Mountain and Mount Wuh standing tall on the left and Beaver Mountain gracing the right as blowing snow billows between them. The blue-gray of the snow and ice, contrasted with the golden colors of the grassy meadow poking through the snow, give way to the stunning visuals of the distant mountains, while the smooth white snow gently cascades down the river's banks. This frozen moment in time is sure to be a beautiful addition as a purchased fine art print, speaking to the glory of the Rocky Mountains and their icy winter beauty.

Longs Peak stands in the distance in this view across a valley in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado.
Across the Valley

Experience the stunning beauty of Longs Peak, towering majestically across a breathtaking valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. On this winter afternoon, the sun shines down from overhead as billowing clouds move across the sky, casting a warm glow on the blanket of snow that covers the landscape. The intricate details of the rugged terrain are captured in perfect clarity, from the distant peaks to the numerous pine, fir, and spruce trees in the valley. With its breathtaking scenery and mesmerizing lighting, this photo is sure to be a cherished addition to any collection. Purchase a fine art print of this breathtaking moment in nature and let it transport you to the heart of the Rocky Mountains, every time you look at it.

There were some spectacular views along Trail Ridge Road and Bear Lake Road. Trail Ridge Road closes in the winter at Many Parks Curve, but it's still worth driving to the closure to take advantage of the vistas available. "Across the Valley" above is one example. Bear Lake Road also has some stunning views. I particularly liked the views from Storm Pass Trailhead, which you can see below in "Peaks of Winter".

Taylor Peak, the Stiletto, and Otis Peak are engulfed in blowing snow on a winter day in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Peaks of WInter

This stunning winter vista is a feast for the eyes! Three majestic peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, Taylor Peak, the Stiletto, and Otis Peak, are outlined against a deep, clear blue sky, with gusts of snow blowing across the mountainside. The photographed scene is bathed in a glorious light that enhances the ethereal beauty of the majestic mountains, pine and spruce trees, and sparkling patches of snow that cover the hills and valleys below. The clean white snow underneath the peaks creates a powerful contrast of texture and hue, resulting in a breathtaking print that captures the brilliant winter panorama.

Our last morning there, we decided on a final hike to Dream Lake. Kristen snapped a photo of me crossing Nymph Lake on the way, below. Even along the trail, there were numerous opportunities, including the Steller's Jay below, as well as the overlook of Long's Peak.

Snowshoeing across a frozen Nymph Lake.

Snowshoeing across a frozen Nymph Lake.

A Stellers Jay sits perched on an aspen branch in snow.
Steller's Jay in Winter

The majestic Steller's Jay, the only crested jay found west of the Rocky Mountains, perched on a bare aspen branch in winter. This photo showcases the beauty of the wildlife found in Rocky Mountain National Park. The sharp contrasts of the striking blue feathers of the bird against the frost-covered branches are sure to captivate and enliven any space. This is a perfect addition for any nature lover, bird enthusiast, or anyone who appreciates the raw, natural beauty of wildlife and the great outdoors.

A winter mountain scene at Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Frozen Dream

Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning and peaceful winter paradise. As the morning light shimmers off the snow and ice-covered lake surface and the surrounding snow-covered mountains, the air is filled with serenity and tranquility. The scene exudes a dreamy ambience, the pale blue sky dotted with delicate pastel hues. Nature engulfs the lake in its stunning beauty, inviting visitors to become lost in the enchanting atmosphere.

The ice that covers Dream Lake forms beautiful designs with bubbles, cracks, and fissures covering the surface and just below.
Dream Lake Ice Abstract

This breathtaking photograph of ice from Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park captures the beauty of nature in its most pristine form. The cobalt blue ice creates a stunning canvas for the intricate designs of fissures, cracks, and bubbles frozen in time. This captivating scene highlights the incredible power of nature and its ability to create art on its own. The image of sparkling ice, printed on museum-quality materials, sets a tranquil atmosphere perfect for any home or office environment.

I never set out with a specific number of photos that I'd like to make on a trip. Weather and subject matter will often dictate what I come away with, as well as my personal mindset. This trip to the Rockies was definitely one of my more productive trips. I still have images I want to edit and add to my Collections. Just something about the mountains. I very much want to go back and see it in the spring, summer, and fall. Hopefully I can make that happen soon.