Nestled on the front range of the Rocky Mountains at the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park sits at 7,522 feet above sea level. A cozy resort retreat approximately 60 miles northeast of Denver, Estes Park spans approximately 5.9 square miles. With stunning vistas and snowcapped mountains, Estes Park has long been a popular resort community. In fact, archeological evidence suggests that the Ute and Arapaho Indian families would spend summers in the region as far back as 10,000 years ago, making it Colorado's oldest resort town.
Founded by and named after Missouri native Joel Estes in 1859, Estes Park has continued to flourish through the years as a celebrated Rocky Mountain getaway. Today a number of intriguing attractions allow visitors to peer into Estes Park's storied past. Guests can step into a genuine log cabin or explore the restored original headquarters of Rocky Mountain National Park at the Estes Park Museum. Visitors who want to get to know the fascinating ranching heritage of Colorado should not miss out on a trip to the MacGregor Ranch Museum. Here, original furnishings, memorabilia, horse-drawn machinery and other items from three generations of a local ranching family are on display.
Meanwhile, guests can uncover the life and times of F.O. Stanley of Stanley Steamer automobile fame at the Stanley Museum. A prominent fixture of Estes Park's past, the legacy of F.O. Stanley can also be experienced at the famed Stanley Hotel, which was the setting for Stephen King's chilling book The Shining. The Stanley Hotel still "shines" to this day with spine tingling ghost tours that include a trip through the hotel's underground tunnel.
Outdoor activities are also a must on any itinerary in Estes Park. Located at the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is the perfect place to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery from new heights. Rocky Mountain National Park, considered one of America's natural treasures, offers a bird's eye view of rushing rivers, canyons, forests and a patchwork of flower-covered meadows. Meandering over 415 square miles of wilderness, this scenic wonder offers plenty of recreational options including biking, climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, stargazing, bird watching, picnicking and more. In addition to all this, the National Park and surrounding community boasts about having some of the best wildlife watching in the State of Colorado. With a herd of more than 2,000 elk roaming about freely, conference goers are likely to experience wildlife on any given day of the year.
Also at the park, visitors can drive around the 23-mile Bear Lake Road to enjoy some of the most magnificent scenery in the area, including the glistening Bear and Sprague lakes as well as the 12,713-foot-high Hallett Peak. No trip along Bear Lake Road would be complete without a stop at the Moraine Park Visitor Center, full of unique insights into the mountain terrain such as tectonic activity, glaciation, volcanism, weathering and more. Other Rocky Mountain State Park highlights include the Peak to Peak scenic byway and Trail Ridge Road – the highest continuous paved highway in North America and scenic byways the Peak to Peak Highway, both scenic byways.
Relaxing, nature-filled days in Estes Park spill over to starry nights lit up by eclectic eateries, cozy pubs and live entertainment venues. Visitors wishing to have their taste buds tempted can try out regional wild game fare such as elk, trout and buffalo at eateries such as the Other Side Restaurant. Those wanting to indulge in a hearty meal amidst a warm lodge setting can pull up a chair at Marys Lake Lodge. After dinner, visitors can enjoy live music and libations at venues such as Lonigan's Nightclub and Grill, or, during summer months, catch a free outdoor concert in Performance Park.