We decided that the best thing to do would be to avoid having to go through Estes Park if at all possible. They were having their annual Celtic Highland Games festival, which is probably real interesting but wasn't really in our plans. As it turned out, this was a smart move as we ran into a lot of traffic when we finally came down, even though the games were over for the day.
We left Niwot and went back down to Boulder so we could get on US 36 north to Lyons. There are some shortcuts from Niwot to the highway, but we didn't have a good map, so we took the diagonal south and then headed north. This is a nice road and very interesting because the highway hugs the mountains. We will probably go back there to look at rocks.
We got to Lyons and found out they were also having some sort of town festival. Luckily, Lyons isn't very big, so we got through with a minimum of hassle. The map showed two ways to go, one being to continue on US 36 to Estes Park, the other was to take Colorado 7 south and west to Allens Park and come in the back way. This second route seemed like the better plan, for the aforementioned reasons. This is a longer, but less traveled route, and I think much more scenic (also more fun to drive). The highway is cut right through the side of the mountains with many overhanging rocks; it gives you a real sense of the sheer mass of the mountains; also the incredible efforts expended by the earlier inhabitants in their attempts to penetrate the mountains.
As you may know by now, some of the images on the following pages take a long time to load, so be patient. On to Longs Peak!