We were up early and made our way to Horseshoe Park to hopefully see some animals – elk and big horn sheep – who usually hang out in this area.
Who is watching who?
We thought they were prairie dogs but they are Wyoming ground squirrels.
Well, no luck on the elk or sheep so we went further on down the road. We saw a few people looking up here:
Aren’t they just majestic!
We hung out for a while and then continued to the Alluvial Fan area. Do you remember this picture from the other day? The Alluvial Fan area is the whitish area.
We parked our car and started on the path that quickly disappeared. This area also suffered greatly from the floods last year.
Sue was our pioneer woman picking her way thru the rocks and we just followed her to the top or end of the path.
Before the flood, the pathway went down to the road but it was also taken out by the flooding so we slowly made our way over the boulders:
The river use to go under this bridge:
Now it has found its own way thru the trees:
And over what use to be the road to the Old Falls River Road (or rather the water took out that road):
Notice the brown sign – it is buried in over 3 feet of ruble that came from the flood waters:
The road partially cleaned of dirt and debris:
Once we saw the road, we understood why Old Falls River Road was closed and why it may not reopen – so much damage.
It was still early so we made our way to the town of Drake through Big Thompson Canyon. In 1976, there was a devastating flash flood that ripped through this canyon. It was the deadliest flash flood recorded in Colorado with a death toll of 140 people. The town of Drake is about 10 miles from Estes Park and at the confluence of two rivers. The flash flood was a 20’ foot wall of water and debris when it hit that town and pretty much wiped it out.
So why did I want to come here? In 1976, the day before the flood, I drove through this canyon and thought it was the most beautiful place on earth. At the time, I was living in Golden, Colorado looking for a job. I remember the news, the pictures and how horrific it was. So yes, I had to come back.
What is even more sad is that this area was devastated again by the floods last September (2013). As we drove down the canyon, we saw how powerful this water/flood was. So many homes were condemned. There were areas where homes were just hanging out over a cliff – the water washed the hillside away. And the town of Drake again was hit hard.
I only took a few pictures of the canyon area. There are many pictures and stories of both floods – just Google “Big Thompson Flood”. I have chosen not to put some of those photos on my blog.
Here are some I did take. This is a memorial to two officers who sacrificed their lives in the 1976 flood.
A lot of work is still being done and I am sure it will continue. We came back home by way of Fish Creek Road in Estes Park – another area that was devastated and they continue to repair.
Our prayers go to all those affected by these floods.
We came back home, had lunch, then went to downtown Estes Park. It is a cute little place – lots of historic buildings that now house touristy stuff.
The rivers that run through town:
Our last stop was supper at one of the local restaurants – Yum. (Sorry, I forgot the name.)