“Are ye the ghosts of fallen leaves, O flakes of snow, for which, through naked trees, the winds A-mourning go?” – John B. Tabb
It is often said that fall is the most beautiful season of the year, even though each of the four seasons undoubtedly has its particular share of qualities. However, there is something about fall that invokes melancholy and serenity in people, and when you couple that with the incredible colors of the wardrobe nature puts on during this time of year, it is impossible not to pause and admire your surroundings. That is particularly the case if you happen to live near a forest or grove, not to mention if you happen to be passing through a small town on your way to somewhere. It might be wise, dear traveler, to park your car on the side of the road for a few moments and just enjoy the sights, smells and sensations of fall. And if luck has it that you’ve stopped near Estes Park, Colorado, well then, you’re in luck in more ways than one.
When History Meets Top-Notch Hospitality
Conveniently situated along the Big Thompson River, at the 2010 census Estes Park had a population of 5,858, which makes it a classic small town. And let’s get one thing straight right here and now: its population is the only small thing about this place! The official headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park, this charming Colorado haven is a popular summer resort. The place has been welcoming guests ever since Griff Evans established a dude ranch in the area in the late 1860s. Spectacular scenery and hospitality to match are abundant, so expect to be treated as an equal, rather than a tourist.
The town’s reputation as a resort destination was further perpetuated some 50 years later by F.O. Stanley of steam car fame, with the opening of his sophisticated namesake hotel. From then on, the notable legacy of offering guests an exquisite experience, in addition to the history of the place, has been Estes Park’s strongest selling point.
A Little Something For Everybody
Estes Park can be said to truly sit in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, at an altitude of 7,522 feet above sea level. Given its location, this translates into majestic views spanning in every direction, especially since the town is situated some 70 miles northeast of Denver. Fertile valleys dotted with wildlife, iconic peaks and pristine fishing rivers are just a part of the incredible features one is more than welcome to not only witness, but also experience here.
The village itself can be said to represent an acknowledgment of its Colorado surroundings, with accommodations, restaurants and merchants decorating in lodge, Western or ranch styles, as well as serving regional fare and selling locally made products. On the other hand, a relaxed, casual vibe adorns the downtown, which is open year-round, is accessible and very affordable. What’s more, if you’re the type of person used to wearing sundresses and flip-flops while on vacation, you’ll be surprised to see that in this small town, jeans and cowboy boots are just as common. However, it should be noted that there are also options available for those on the prowl for an upscale night out, as some restaurants cater to such travelers. That being said, such variety can also be found in galleries and shops as well, which boast everything from whimsical trinkets to unique, high-end items.
Estes Park, Colorado – The Home Of Postcard Gorgeousness
In true spirit with Estes Park’s location, mountain exploration remains a mainstay. One example of an interesting way of getting to know the area are scenic drives, including the Trail Ridge Road, which rises to more than 12,000 feet through Rocky Mountain National Park. A number of other scenic drives also wind through the valley, past picturesque fish-filled rivers and historic landmarks. Other outdoor adventures range from rock climbing and snowshoeing to hiking.
When it comes to wildlife in the area, it is often said that the humans in Estes Park are outnumbered by the region’s furry critters. Elk, for example, are often seen wandering through downtown streets, with visitors spying on them, in addition to other animals. And if you’re looking to do some spying of your own, we recommend touring Estes Park’s last remaining working cattle ranch, MacGregor Ranch, driving toward the Historic Fall River Hydroplant or simply walking around Lake Estes.
The Owner Of Many Accolades, And Rightfully So
It is no wonder that Estes Park repeatedly earns recognition as a top destination when one considers all of its amenities and adventures, complete with the charming sculpture garden and bench-lined Riverwalk. A trademark easiness that goes hand in hand with a dream getaway to Rocky Mountain paradise is one of the main reasons why it boasts a strong history of hosting visitors from all around the world. That being said, it is also no surprise that it has earned awards from many Colorado newspapers, the Weather Channel, Colorado Parent and TripAdvisor.
When it comes to tourist experience, the age-old saying that there’s no arguing about tastes can certainly be applied; however, there are a couple of activities and places in and around Estes Park that seem to occupy the attention of tourists no matter which part of the world they come from. Bike rentals and river rafting are two of them, and they certainly come as no surprise, given the area’s breathtaking natural treasures. Another one is the Stanley Museum, dedicated to the aforementioned founder of the Stanley Hotel. Wine tasting, fishing and snowshoeing also make for very popular activities, as do horseback riding, renting a boat and, of course, hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. And the cherry on top of the Estes Park cake is – shopping, believe it or not! Virtually fun for the whole family, shopping in downtown Estes Park is a unique experience, offering everything from art galleries and restaurants to authentic local shops.
Well, Do You?
In the end, when it comes to visiting Rocky Mountain National Park (and Estes Park, at the same time), fall really is a favorite time. The summer crowds have thinned and the kids are back in school, the colors are spectacular and the air is crisp and clear, not to mention that no matter where you look, you’ll be able to see wildlife. Crisp air and clear blue skies punctuated with occasional snows is what makes fall in Estes Park so appealing, complete with the inevitable bighorn sheep and bugling elk butting contests. In late August, Aspen starts turning in at higher elevations and the golden leaves slowly begin to descend in late October, making that time of the year ideal for visiting the magical Estes Park, Colorado and enjoying the peak of the gold rush in the Rockies. So, dear traveler – do you still feel like getting back in your car and driving away?
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