After arriving in RMNP on Monday afternoon, I set up camp in the Moraine Park Campground and took a short hike up to Dream Lake and then to Emerald Lake above that. I took lots of pictures, but was unsatisfied with the results.
Tuesday provided opportunity for a strenuous hike (for me, anyway) to Fern Lake. The 8 miles round trip would have been easy but for the 1600 foot of elevation gain needed to get to the lake. Hmmm, no good photographs there either. I was chased off of the mountain by a rainstorm that afternoon and after returing to camp it rained (pretty heavily and windy at times) for at least 5 hours as I lay reading in my tent. I'm glad I had a good tent!
I awoke on Wednesday to complete cloud cover and steady drizzle. On Monday's hike, I hadn't stopped at Bear Lake (too many people), but this would be the perfect day for it. There were only a handful of photographers to share the experience.
That afternoon, I was in my tent cleaning my camera gear (OK, I might have taken a nap, too) when I heard an elk bugle nearby... really nearby. I grabbed my gear and unzipped the door to find over 20 elk within 100 yards of my tent - some much closer than that!. I carefully crawled out and started taking pictures. Here's the bull of the bunch trying to coax his harem out of the campground and back into the valley.
Tired of the cloud cover, I drove up toward the alpine visitor center on highway 34 near dusk. A magical scene awaited as I broke through the clouds and could see that the entire valley was beneath their cover. This picture is from the East side of the mountains.
This was the view a little further up on the western side, but looking South.
And here's an westward panoramic view (composed from four separate captures) after the sun was completely gone.