Summer’s last gasp

It’s Labor Day weekend, traditionally the end of summer. Family vacations are winding down, pools are closed, schools are open, and the next holiday with a day off is Thanksgiving. So it’s no wonder people have flocked to their favorite vacation spots for one last taste of summer.

Along Colorado’s Front Range, however, we locals know it’s best to avoid certain popular places. We probably couldn’t get near them if we tried.

Here’s the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park at about 3:15 this afternoon:

Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park (click for current view)

This is one of three entrances into the park, and once in the park, there’s essentially only one 2-lane road for all these cars to use. Some fun, eh? Try to enjoy the scenery without rear-ending the car ahead of you.

And a few minutes earlier, this was the scene on top of Pikes Peak:

Labor Day on top of Pikes Peak

Labor Day on top of Pikes Peak (click for current view)

Imagine navigating the 2-lane road all the way up to this 14,000-foot summit and then not finding a parking spot.

Is it any wonder the we locals stay home on holiday weekends?

 



Categories: Green, holidays, Rocky Mtn Natl Park

21 replies

  1. I’d be avoiding that little lot like the plague;

    I thought that summer officially ended in the northern hemishere on 21 September, the equinox; when the sun slips over to pay us a short visit; perhaps that’s only in England/ Gt Britain.

    In Australia we celebrate the seasons on the 1st of March 1st June 1st Sept and 1st Dec, for the simple reason that it’s too hard to do it properly XD

    • You’re right about the equinox and all. But Labor Day is sort of an unoffical change. Summer things like swimming pools close, fall fashions take over, most every school in the country has started. Everybody just sort of switches from summer mode to fall mode. Nothing official about it season-wise, but it is a official holiday weekend with most people getting Monday off.

      And yes, you don’t want to go anywhere near the popular tourist spots around here this weekend. In fact, they are best avoided on all weekends.

      • Makes more sense for the all the country to celebrate Labor day at the same time; for some unknown reason we celebrate out equivelant Labour day at various times; some states in March, others in May and the rest in October.

        We’re a weird mob. as the book written/ published in the late 1950’s will attest.

        “They’re a weird mob” written by Jon O’Grady under the pseudonym “Nino Culotta”

  2. Yikes!! True, locals have the edge, but wannabes also seem instinctively to know holidays/free entrance days are definitely to be missed 😉 (Shame no summit view on Mt Evans, but PP nasty enough)

    • I pretty much make it a rule to stay away from the touristy places on weekends. Always have. That’s when working people and those with kids in school have to go. So I don’t.

      I’m a bit surprised, actually, that no one has put a webcam on Evans. But they’re expensive to buy and maintain and Evans hasn’t been “adopted” by a city the way PP has. Pikes Peak is practically a Colorado Springs amusement park.

      I neglected to grab a screenshot of the PP train unloading at the summit. Looked like it was SRO.

  3. I live in a city that is popular with tourists. While I realize that they are needed for the local economy, I’m always happy to part with them when Labor Day arrives!

  4. The U.S.A. has changed dramatically in my day. I became an adult in the late 1950’s. One summer, I hitchhiked home over a distance of some 1,200 miles. The Interstate Highway system was just getting started and Route 66 was still the main way west.

    The automobile was the essence of adventure in those times. Driving on a trip or vacation usually included night driving on two-lane highways, passing slow cars on straighaways, frequently switching from high beams to low. Stops for the night often meant “cabins”, sans A/C. No TV in those early days. People like us never ate out except on travel, and then we ate at “cafes” featuring plain food. Thus, destinations were uncrowded by today’s standards. The only theme park was DisneyLand which opened in 1955. Now, well, it’s no parking at the top of Pike’s Peak.

    • I traveled in those days too. OKC to Denver was not a pleasant experience. No interstates, only two-lane highways out through the OK panhandle and up through southeastern Colorado toward Denver. Gas stations were far enough apart that you always kept one eye on your supply. A flood near Lamar, CO, forced a long detour one year. A major dust storm slowed us another year (lots of fun with no a/c and when you could barely see the road directly in front of the car. I think my dad looked out the side window and followed the center line.) And it being summer, we usually hit the wheat harvest at some point. Lots on convoys of big harvesting machines, combines, etc., that we had to leapfrog around. (Fortunately there were lots of long, flat straightaways between OKC and Denver.)

      The motels were almost always rows of single-story, white stucco “rooms.” The advantage, I suppose, was you could back right up to your door. Made loading and unloading easy, and your car was right there where you could watch it. Occasionally I still see one of those old motels. Can’t say I miss them. And meals were always at the nearest local cafe or truck stop. (What an innovation when a few Dairy Queens and Sonics starting popping up!) I can attest that Pikes Peak, Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park looked a lot more inviting in those days.

  5. There is a better way, and it’s called labor law. For the purposes of this reply I haven’t done any fact-checking, but, don’t the Germans by law get about 4 weeks paid leave per year? And do you suppose that this causes Germans over all to be less inclined to make a mad rush of German freeways on, well, 1-day holidays?

    • Sounds logical. I think most of the western European countries get/take more time off than we do. But don’t such countries all go in the same month, like just shut down the country for a month? That might be hard on the tourist-based businesses the rest of the year. Like you, no research done.

      • I’m guesstimating that when a peoples necessarily have paid time off, a substantial chunk of it every 365 days, that those people will be less inclined to participate in the mad rushes attendant to 1-day holidays, such as our American Labor Day. I think that some of those drivers and passengers packed-in at that “Fall River entrance” would have been inclined to say (but maybe in their own words) “Eh? Spouse and children o’ mine? There’s about 28 other days per year that I always get off, let’s skip this crush of Labor Day travelers, and go on up to, maybe Pike’s Peak when it’s not, well, peaking with travelers.”

        • “Peak travel days,” eh? Clever. I could have used that when I wrote the story.

          Yep, I agree. People turn out on those three-day weekends because it doesn’t count against their paid vacation days. A bit odd considering I saw a report sometime over the weekend that said ony 15% (?) of American workers use all their paid vacation days every year. Something like that. Yet at the same time we grouse about not getting enough time off. Go figure. (My excuse was that I had no back-up while I was gone. I either did the work ahead time or caught up afterwards. Heavy penalty for taking the vacation I had earned.)

"There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees." ~ Michel de Montaigne

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