Boulder Brook Blog

Fall Colors in Estes Park

Exploring the incredible fall colors in Colorado can take on so many different attitudes. From leisurely escapes with scenic fall foliage drives and heart-warming comfort foods, to active autumn trips full of climbing new routes and summiting golden peaks. Whichever your dream fall vacation entails, you won’t find a more inspiring mountain location than Estes Park.

Surrounded by the protected lands of Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest, Estes is not only home to hundreds of miles of trails, breathtaking views and chilly mountain streams. We are also home to thousands of wild elk, and this time of year they are in full rut – or mating season. The fantastic sights and sounds of the bull elk mating rituals add another dimension to autumn in these mountains. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to start planning right away for your perfect Colorado fall getaway in the base camp to Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

Top 10 Trails for Leaf Viewing

 

Gem Lake – Lumpy Ridge Trailhead – 3.5 mi round trip

Not only does the Gem Lake trail offer a path through the aspen groves, it also gives a panoramic view at the Estes Park Lookout over the entire valley and Longs Peak.

 

Bierstadt Lake – Bear Lake Trailhead to Park ‘N Ride

This point-to-point hike offers beautiful hints of color as you walk through a forested area and final view across Bierstadt Lake to Long’s Peak and the Continental Divide.

 

The Pool – Fern Lake Trailhead – 3.4 mi round trip

Enjoy the soundtrack of the Big Thompson River as you hike through the aspens, eventually arriving at The Pool, the location where the Big Thompson meets Fern Creek.

 

Glacier Creek – Bear Lake Trailhead to Sprague Lake Trailhead

Start at Bear Lake and enjoy a mostly downhill stroll through close forest, then take the shuttle at Sprague Lake to your car.

 

Sprague Lake – Sprague Lake Trailhead – 0.9 mi loop

While you take a short hike around the lake, enjoy views of changing colors on the surrounding moraines.

 

North Deer Mountain Trail – Deer Mountain Trailhead – 6.2 mi round trip

Deer Mountain is an opportunity to bag yourself a summit while enjoying beautiful vistas of the Fall River Valley, Mummy Range and golden aspens.

 

Estes Cone – Long’s Peak Trailhead – 6.5 mi round trip

The hike to Estes Cone is a majority of lower elevation hiking through varied terrain, like aspen and pine forests, and past the Eugenia mine, and holds a steep last portion. Your work will be rewarded with views of Long’s Peak, Mt. Meeker, the Continental Divide, the Mummy Range, and a view of the Estes Valley.

 

Ouzel Falls – Wild Basin Trailhead – 5.4 mi round trip

Ouzel Falls isn’t the only attraction on this hike through the forest. You also get to see Copeland Falls and Calypso Cascade along the way. All while enjoying the vibrant autumn colors.

 

Bridal Veil Falls – Cow Creek Trailhead – 6.2 mi round trip

Hike up cow creek among beautiful transitioning colors, with the backdrop of the Mummy Range.

 

Mills Lake – Glacier Gorge Trailhead – 5.3 mi round trip

On this hike, you will pass Alberta Falls, a popular destination surrounded by aspen groves. You will also have great views over other changing forests from a distance on this hike.

 

 

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Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival

Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival

  • September 8, 2016 – September 11, 2016
  • Recurring daily
  • Location: US Highway 36 & Community Drive, Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival, CO
  • Phone: 800-90-ESTES
  • Time: 9 am 5 pm

 

Enjoy bagpipes & drums, Highland & Irish Dancing, Folk music and Celtic rock, jousting competitions, athletic and other competitions at the largest Scottish Festival in the West!

 

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Labor Day Weekend

September 3 – September 5, 2016

 

Enjoy the holiday weekend in Estes Park with many different celebrations!

Annual Arts and Crafts Show From September 3-5, The Labor Day Arts and Crafts Show will fill Bond Park and the adjacent downtown area with over 100 booths featuring a variety of hand-crafted goods. The Estes Valley Sunrise Rotary hosts this free unique shopping event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday. Available handmade goods for sale include paintings and drawings, jewelry, metal work, clothing and tapestry bags, gourmet pantry items, home décor, wood carvings, doll clothes and toys, pottery, glass and more.

 

13th Annual John Denver Tribute Concert Keeping icon John Denver’s legacy very much alive, Brad Fitch will perform Denver’s classics on Saturday. Doors for the tribute concert will open at 4 p.m. and the music will kick off at 5 p.m. with opening acts and Fitch to follow.

 

The list of things-to-do doesn’t stop at these three events; explore the trails of Rocky Mountain National Park, take a scenic drive or enjoy the last hoorah of summer at one of the family amusement parks. It’s a weekend that promises plenty of relaxation and enjoyment. Find your perfect place to kick-up your hiking boots at the end of the night; make your weekend lodging reservations in Estes Park today!

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Living History

 

MacGregor Ranch Museum and Maude’s Mercantile – Founded in 1873, MacGregor Ranch is both the last remaining working cattle ranch in Estes Park and one of the few sites operating as both a working ranch and youth education center in the northern Colorado area. It is unique in that its historic collection and structures are original to the 1873 homestead family, and its collection is completely intact.

The original 1896 ranch house has been in operation as a museum since 1973. All three generations of MacGregors lived on the Ranch; and today, the museum hosts over 7,000 visitors – over half of which are school aged-children.  Visit the Ranch Museum and Maude’s Mercantile Tuesday through Saturday from 10a – 4p.  Call 970-586-3749 or visit http://www.macgregorranch.org/ for more information.

 

 

Mary’s Lake Lodge is on the State Register of Historic Properties thanks to the Jones family and their Rockdale Cottages which were originally located just south of Marys Lake.  After the opening of Trail Ridge Road in 1920 enabled travelers to pass through Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time,  Roe Emery, head of Rocky Mountain Parks Transportation Co., recognized the need for hotel accommodations and quickly began construction on the Grand Lake Lodge.  This, along with the acquisition of Hot Springs Hotel in Idaho Springs, CO and the Mary’s Lake Chalet, made perfect components for the Scenic Circle Tour which allowed travelers to purchase a planned vacation package start from their home train station, to Denver, through the mountains, and back home.  In 1923 Lewis sold the three hotels to Emery at which time he began major expansion projects on the Mary’s Lake Chalet; a south wing was added and the main lodge and north wing were expanded allowing up to 300 guests accommodations.  Read more about the historic lodge at http://www.maryslakelodge.com/history or check out the history of Tavern 1929 at http://www.maryslakelodge.com/history-tavern-1929 where you will find an excellent selection of micro-brews and a delightful pub menu to enjoy on their mountainside veranda.

 

 

The Baldpate Inn began with newlyweds, Gordon and Ethel Mace, and Gordon’s two brothers, Charles and Stuart Mace. In 1911, while visiting Estes Park on their honeymoon, the Maces were so taken with the area’s beauty they decided to homestead the property upon which the Baldpate now stands.   Initially only a small Homestead cabin was built on the land and rhubarb was planted to fulfill the requirements of the Homestead Act. In order to supplement their income, the Mace family built several small tourist cabins which proved popular and successful.  To accommodate the overwhelming demand for hospitality, the family made plans to build an inn. With their homestead patent registered as complete on January 22, 1917, the family officially opened The Baldpate Inn.

 

 

The Inn is constructed from hand-hewn timber cut from the property. Massive stone fireplaces were built to provide warmth and hot water. The Baldpate  opened boasting hot running water, electric lights, and indoor plumbing!  Visit the on-site historic key room/museum where keys, stories and photos abound.  Visit the “Key-thedral” Theater for an evening of entertainment under the stars.  http://www.baldpateinn.com/index.php/?page_id=26

 

 

Elkhorn Lodge is a historic 1874 western ranch and lodge. Said to be one of the area’s most haunted hotels, some of the ghosts here are thought to be “original” residents of Estes Park.  Considered to be the oldest, continuously operated hotel in Colorado, the Elkhorn Lodge is a terrific example of a late 19th century hunting lodge built to serve the burgeoning demand from tourists for an immersive “Rocky Mountain” experience. Originally comprising several thousand acres that have since been deeded to the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Lodge property, which has structures dating back to the 1870s, now includes 65 acres and 35 buildings completed in the rustic style. The buildings include the main lodge, Estes Park’s first school building, the ranch house, the coach house that over time was both a stage stop and casino, a number of cabins, a horse barn, two dormitories and a small building in the rustic stick style known as the chapel. Elkhorn Lodge was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and was recently discovered to be the site of one of the first golf courses built in Colorado.

Along with historic buildings and believe it or not, stuffed elk heads in the old lobby, the lodge now features a working livery and Cheesy Lee’s Pizza and Bakery.

 

 

The Estes Park Museum welcomes visitors Monday – Saturday from 10a to 5p and Sunday from 1p-5p.  Exhibits include Call of the Wild in which visitors are challenged to identify local wildlife; return cattle to their ranches in Pursuing the Wealth of Land or examine a 1909 Stanley Steamer Runabout  in Roads to Paradise.  Guests can also visit the furnished 1908 Cobb-Macdonald cabin and the original National Park Service Headquarters Building.  The museum also houses seasonal and temporary exhibits. For more information please  visit https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/townofestespark/museum The museum is located at 200 Fourth Street.  Phone: 970-586-6256

 

 

If you prefer to experience history in a romantic, relaxing, mountain dining room with lovely service and a delightful meal please visit Twin Owls Steakhouse (1929 Homestead) www.twinowls.net;  The Dunraven Inn (Early 1930’s Homestead) www.dunraveninn.com; or The Rock Inn (1937)  www.rockinnestes.com.

 

 

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Astronomy in the Park

Ranger-led night sky programs are held in the park in the summer starting in mid-June.


In June, July and August the night sky comes alive through storytelling and fun activities. Celebrate darkness at Rocky!

 

Observe the night sky with the help of a park ranger and expert volunteer astronomers. Dress warmly, bring binoculars and a flashlight.

 

Each August, the Perseid meteor shower reappears—and Rocky’s dark skies make for a brilliant show. These shooting stars appear at a rate of one per minute or more at the peak. The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, occurs every year between July 17 and August 24. The shower tends to peak around August 9-13.

 

The best time to view the Perseids, or most other meteor showers, is when the sky is the darkest. Most astronomers suggest that-depending on the Moon’s phase-the best time to view meteor showers is right before dawn.

 

Get the Official Schedules:

Download the Program Schedule on the NPS website at www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/ranger_led_activities.htm

For more information about these programs in Rocky Mountain National Park, call 970-586-1206.

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Wildlife Viewing

 

Rocky Mountain National Park visitors have a passion for viewing wild animals, especially the big ones. With an elk herd numbering between 600 to 800 in the winter, about 350 bighorn sheep, numerous mule deer and a small population of moose calling the park home, it’s no surprise that wildlife watching is rated the number-one activity by a vast majority of Rocky’s three million annual visitors.
The park’s great large-animal population makes it one of the country’s top wildlife watching destinations. But there is much more to see than these so-called “charismatic megafauna.” Also found are nearly 60 other species of mammals; more than 280 recorded bird species; six amphibians, including the federally endangered boreal toad; one reptile (the harmless garter snake); 11 species of fish; and countless insects, including a surprisingly large number of butterflies.
Some basic knowledge of animal habits and habitats greatly enhances prospects of spotting Rocky Mountain’s wild residents. A few park favorites:

  • Elk can be seen anytime, a popular viewing period being the fall rut, or mating season. Look for elk in meadows and where meadow and forest meet. Elk spend much of their time at or above timberline during the summer, moving to lower elevations in the fall, winter and spring. Favorite feeding times: dawn and dusk.
  • Bighorn sheep are commonly seen at Sheep Lakes from May through mid-August.
  • Moose frequent willow thickets along the Colorado River in the Kawuneeche Valley on the park’s west side.
  • Otters were reintroduced into the Colorado River area and are doing fairly well. These animals are difficult to spot.
  • Mule deer are common and can be seen anywhere. They are most often found at lower elevations in open areas.
  • Bats feed over lakes and ponds at dawn and dusk.
  • Marmots and pikas favor rocky areas. Marmots are best seen on the alpine tundra along Trail Ridge and Old Fall River roads. Pikas – small, light-colored mammals – are common in rock piles. Listen for their sharp, distinctive bark and watch for movement.
  • Clark’s nutcrackers, Steller’s jays, golden eagles and prairie falcons can be seen along Trail Ridge Road.
  • White-tailed ptarmigans, some of the most sought-after birds in Rocky Mountain National Park, are common but difficult to spot. For best results, hike on the tundra and look carefully. Ptarmigans usually remain still, relying on their natural camouflage for protection.
  • American dippers, or water ouzels, can be found along most streams. Listen for their loud call, similar to the rapid clicking of two stones together, as they fly up and down their territories.

Despite their good intentions, some wildlife watchers are loving park animals to death. Feeding junk food to wildlife reduces its ability to survive the long mountain winter. When they panhandle by roadsides, animals fall easy prey to automobiles. As they become habituated to humans and lose their natural fear, the animals become aggressive and may be destroyed. Harassing or feeding wildlife is illegal in all national parks. Tips For Successful, Enjoyable Wildlife Watching Watch from a distance. Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to get close-up views. Following larger animals too closely to get a photograph or a better look can stress them and threaten their health. If animals notice you or if they seem nervous, you are too close. Move away quietly.

  • Obey all signs posting closed areas. At different times of the year, some park areas are closed to protect wildlife during nesting, mating and birthing seasons.
  • Keep pets in your vehicle. Pets may scare wildlife, and wild animals can hurt the pet.
  • Use of wildlife calls and spotlights is illegal. They stress animals and alter their natural behavior.
  • Some large animals such as elk, sheep, bears and mountain lions are dangerous. Check at visitor centers for tips on safety around wildlife.
  • Drive slowly. Watch for animals crossing the road. Deer and elk are seldom alone. If you see one animal, look for others that may follow.
  • Stop your car to watch animals only if you can pull off the road safely. Do not block traffic.
  • When possible, get away from roadsides and sit quietly to observe and listen for wildlife. Talk only when necessary, and do so quietly so you don’t disturb the animals or other wildlife watchers. If viewing wild animals from your vehicle, turn off the motor.

http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/wildlife_view.htm

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Rafting!

We are fortunate to enjoy the expertise and adventure offered by three excellent rafting companies, each of which provides fabulous fun, adventure, and something unique.

 

Raft on Colorado’s Best River, Cache La Poudre River with Mountain Whitewater Descents where they are enjoying a fabulous early season. With the river still in high water, you are sure to enjoy a great fast ride! While spring runoff keeps the river running fast and high, their minimum age for rafters is 13. Once the waters calm and lower a bit (until about June 20th) almost everyone can raft! They have lots of gear to keep you warm and safe (no promises about keeping dry) and as always, a safety boater will be with you on every high-water trip.  After your tour, sip an icy Colorado Micro-brew at their Paddler’s Pub.

 

 

The folks at Mountain Whitewater are very passionate about their business and your enjoyment. They put a lot of heart and soul into making sure your ride is a safe, thrilling adventure. Experience why they are different!

 

 

Contact Phone: 888.855.8874 or 970.419.0917 or visit www.raftmwd.com Mountain Whitewater Descents “Our Guides Make the Difference”  Send email or questions to lindsey@raftmwd.com

 

 

 

Experienced and first-time rafters alike will enjoy a great time on the morning or afternoon half day trip on the Cache La Poudre or spend the whole day on the Colorado River.  All Rapid Transit Rafting guides are professionals who surpass the state requirements with extensive training in first aid, river rescue and CPR.   Each trip starts with a rafting orientation and safety presentation. Rapid Transit is fully insured and licensed by the state of Colorado and has one of the best safety records in the state.  With that in mind, remember please, children must be both – at least 7 years old and weight at least 50 pounds to ensure the correct fit of proper safety equipment.  Rapid Transit does all the driving too!  You meet up at Estes Park High School (5 minutes from Boulder Brook’s Front Door) load up, sit back, relax and let the experts drive while you enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife between Estes and your final, rafting destination.

 

 

Contact Rapid Transit Rafting Call 970 577-7238 or 800-367-8523 for more info or to book your trip! Or stop in to their local office at 161 Virginia Drive, downtown behind Bond Park.  http://www.rapidtransitrafting.com/

 

 

 

A1 Wildwater Rafting 970-224-3379 or 800-369-4165  http://www.a1wildwater.com/   Offers several options for families and first-timers as well as Wild & Scenic adventures for the more daring or experienced.  Beginners and families with children age 7 and older will enjoy the easiest Wildwater trip – exciting not overbearing – in the Poudre River with views of lush mountain forests flooded in deep canyon sunshine.  With A1 you may also choose to raft Clear Creek River, North Platte River, or Upper Colorado River. Whatever you choose you are sure to have the adventure of a lifetime.  You’ll find their FAQ page loaded with everything you need to know to book and prepare for your very special whitewater experience. http://www.a1wildwater.com/faq.html

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Come Visit Boulder Brook

Nestled next to the rambling waters of Fall River, Boulder Brook is ideally located to take advantage of the unique shopping of downtown Estes Park or the rugged splendor of the Rocky Mountain National more