To experience the full, pristine grandeur of the Rockies, and especially its wildlife, a visit to the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK is essential. The park straddles the Continental Divide at elevations often well in excess of 10,000ft, with large sections inhabited by elk herds, moose, black bears and bighorn sheep. A full third of the park is above the tree line, and large areas of snow never melt; the name of the Never Summer Mountains speaks volumes about the long, empty expanses of arctic-style tundra. The park’s lower reaches, among the rich forests, hold patches of lush greenery; you never know when you may stumble upon a sheltered mountain meadow flecked with flowers. Parallels with the European Alps spring to mind – helped, of course, by the heavy-handed Swiss and Bavarian themes of so many local motels and restaurants. Note however, that at a tenth of the size of Yellowstone, the park attracts a similar number of visitors – more than three million per year, the bulk of whom come in high summer, meaning that the one main road through the mountains can get incredibly congested.
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