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Rocky Mountain National Park, page 2

This is a collection of photos taken at Rocky Mountain National Park, July 11-13, 2005 during our vacation there.

The Tundra

Photo of  the Tundra with mountain peaks behind it.  Rocky Mountain N.P.
Tundra and Peaks.  

This is page 2 of 3 pages.  Links to other pages:  Page 1   Page 2   Page 3

The Tundra Community Trailhead (also called the Toll Memorial Trail) features a signed, paved nature trail leading out over the tundra to a small peak. It is just above the tree line on the Trail Ridge Road.

At first glance the Tundra looks very bare. But on close examination it is covered with tiny plants with tiny little flowers. The short growing season leaves no time to grow big in this harsh environment above the tree line. God created plants that are adapted to the environment, growing just a inch or two tall.

Schist layer over granite creating a low outcrop.
Schist Over Granite.

The hard schist rock protected the softer granite below it. The unprotected granite eroded away leaving these outcrops. This is near the end of the Tundra Communities Trail.

Schist over granite rock formations.
More Schist Over Granite. 

The trail is paved to protect the tundra. The large numbers of tourists would quickly trample all the tiny windflowers without a paved trail.

Looking down at the Tundra Trail from the summit. Rocky Mountain N.P.
A few from the small peak at the end of the Tundra Communities Trail/ Toll Memorial Trail.  This is looking back toward the parking area over the rise in the distance.

Jess Stryker at summit of Tundra Trail in Rocky Mountain N.P. at 12, 304 ft elevation.
Me (Jess) at 12304 Feet Above Sea Level

UFO hovering over Sundance Mountain.  Rocky Mountain N.P.
UFO over Sundance Mountain.  Yes, there is a U.F.O. in this photo, click on the picture to enlarge it.  Can you see it?  It is hovering over the left side of Sundance Mountain. What is it?

I think it's a flying insect and is just a few feet from my camera rather than over the mountain!

Mount Ida, Rocky Mountain N.P.
Mount Ida.

Tundra Wildflowers

Some examples of the tiny wild flowers found in the tundra. The keys to my rental car give an idea of size. Yes, I used a field guide to flowers to identify them. I'm not that good at plants!

Acomastylis rossii turbinata, Tundra Communities, Rocky Mountain National Park
Acomastylis rossii turbinata

Phlox sibirica pulvinata, Tundra Communities, Rocky Mountain National Park
Phlox sibirica pulvinata

Rydbergia grandiflora , Tundra Communities, Rocky Mountain National Park
Rydbergia grandiflora 

Erigeron melanocephalus, Tundra Communities, Rocky Mountain National Park
Erigeron melanocephalus

Eritrichum aretioides, Tundra Communities, Rocky Mountain National Park
Eritrichum aretioides

At the Summit

Elk grazing on road shoulder.  Rocky Mountain National Park
A large herd of Elk were hanging around the tree line. This elk has discovered that the heat from the pavement allows the grass next to the road to grow taller! The downside to grazing this close to the road is that you can quickly become tonight's main course at the roadkill diner.

Elk laying on hillside
Many of the elk were laying in depressions, with only their antlers showing. The males were on one side of a small rise, the females were on the other side.

Wind blown trees at summit of Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
Wind blown trees Notice how the almost constant wind has distorted the shape of these trees.

Tiny (dwarf) trees near tree-line in Rocky Mountain National Park
Trees at tree line These tiny trees are found at the tree line. They aren't dwarf, they just don't have much time to grow each year. Some may be over 100 years old, and only a few feet tall!

Summit of Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
The summit of the Trail Ridge Road, at 12,183 feet above sea level.

This is page 2 of 3 pages.  Links to other pages:  Page 1   Page 2   Page 3