Johnna and Jeremy are big time road-trippers who drove into Colorado with their daughters and a handful of family members to celebrate their intimate wedding ceremony at Sprague Lake, one of RMNP’s awesome wedding locations. We had planned to hike out to the iconic Dream Lake (and maybe Emerald Lake while we were at it) after the ceremony, but a summer thunderstorm rolled in just as we wrapped up the ceremony and family photos. J + J were totally game to scrap that plan because we had all just heard the news that Trail Ridge Road was finally open for the season! So we outran the rain and drove up to 12,000+ feet of elevation for the rest of their adventure session.
Trail Ridge Road is the highlight of Rocky Mountain – it’s a high mountain pass, the highest continuous paved road in the US! This incredible road takes you right up to the fragile alpine tundra, past incredible rock features, lakes, tons of wildlife, and eventually the continental divide. The views up there are unbelievable – you can see for fifty miles in any direction, all pastel layers of mountains beyond mountains.
We could see the distant storms just dumping on right on the valley we were supposed to hike to, but had nothing but soft friendly clouds above us. We explored a few stops along the road, which was still super snow-packed on either side with larger than life drifts cutaway by the recent plows. Jeremy overcame his fear of heights several times when Johnna encouraged him to climb up on rocks with her, I seem to remember him shouting “THIS IS ALL FOR LOVE!!!” at some point while trying not to puke.
Because there are two of us, we were able to tell their story in a super cool way. At the very top of Trail Ridge Road there are these huge rock structures you can climb up – so Austin hung back and got a long shot with his zoom lens while I scrambled up with Johnna and Jeremy. So I got all the behind the scenes of their climb, and hid in the background shouting some directions at them over the wind. Once we were back on the ground, we traded place and Austin shot some epic aerial photos from the rocks while we strolled down the paths. Drones are illegal in RMNP, so this is as close as you can get! We really did have such a great time with them, just exploring the alpine meadows, huffing canned oxygen, and chatting travel. It seems like just about every cool place in the US we’ve got on our list is somewhere they’ve traveled to recently, I was super impressed at how much travel they’ve been able to prioritize while having children and conventional jobs. They’re dreaming of hitting the road full time one day and I really think they’re going to make that happen eventually! Hopefully we’ll cross paths in Yosemite, Banff, or the Cascades sometime in the next few years, I think we’ve got similar tastes in epic adventures.