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Boulder Brook Blog


Bicycles are a common sight on Fall River Road and surrounding roadways in Estes Park where several kinds of rides – mountain, road and paved path – are available to fair weather visitors.  Bring your own wheels or visit one of the two excellent cycling shops in town that offer bicycle rentals, repairs, tours, gear and more. You can plan your own outing or tour with a guide at Estes Park Mountain Shop   (970) 586 – 6548 | (866) 303 – 6548  or at New Venture Cycling  (970) 231-2736.  Both offer guided tours, expert advice, and top-notch equipment.


Off-Road Mountain Biking   Roosevelt National Forest offers the most abundant opportunities for Mountain Biking as dozens of trails cover hundreds of miles in this preserved area. Pedal through pine-filled forests, across open grasslands and into terrain studded with rocks and hills. East of town, Pole Hill, also popular with ATV riders, is located just off 36, around mile marker 2. Ride here with care as epic boulders seem to appear out of nowhere on this nearly single track steep uphill climb. Hang in – the ride back down fast and thrilling!


Almost exactly across the street from Pole Hill, is Hermit Park Open Space, a Larimer County recreation area with access to the national forest trails. In addition to camping, cabins and hiking, mountain bikers can access the bike-friendly Homestead Meadows Connector Trail. This trail is 1.1 mile within Hermit Park, connecting to 12 miles of national forest trail. Find additional information, including maps, directions and access fees at


The one sweet spot for mountain biking enthusiasts in Rocky Mountain National Park is Old Fall River Road. Once open for the summer, this is a cars-only, one-way gravel road that climbs to the Alpine Visitor Center. However, mountain bikers flock to the switchbacks before and after the seasonal vehicle period to take advantage of the amazing views and unique terrain.


Remember: Trail bikes, mopeds, and bicycles are only allowed on established roads in Rocky Mountain National Park. Stick to the nearby National Forests for off-road trails and backcountry cycling.


Road Biking   There are 60 miles (97 km) of hard-surfaced road with a five to seven percent grade to challenge and delight any rider.  Highlights include Trail Ridge Road which offers road riders the experience of a lifetime with beautiful scenery, challenging altitude, switchbacks, curves, and hills where cyclists can let it out and fly. Do try to keep your tires on the road!  Trail Ridge Road is typically open between Memorial Day and mid-October. Check the current status of the road at 970-586-1222.


Other options for a challenging ride include the downhill slope from Estes Park to Drake (about 12 miles) which also provides an amazing uphill climb back to town.  Highway 7, the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, features long climbs and fast downhill coasts with mountain side, panoramic views.  Fall River Road is a steady uphill climb that culminates at Endovalley Road.  Take a break before coasting back to town to enjoy a picnic in one of the lovely riverside meadows.


Road Warriors and drivers alike are advised to share the road – ride single file, signal and use proper turn lanes, and ride the way you drive – with caution and courtesy especially on steep and winding mountain roads where shoulders can be narrow or non-existent. Bicycles are allowed only on park roads (not trails or foot paths).   Remember: Commonly accepted mountain road courtesy calls for slower traffic to pull over and stop to allow congestion behind to pass where appropriate shoulder space is available. Keep in mind when planning: Summer is “chip and seal” season. The work often leaves loose, fine rock on the road that can be very hazardous to cyclists.


Be aware!   Remember to inspect brakes for worn cables and pads as descents may exceed 20 miles (32.2 km) and elevation losses of 4,000 feet (1,219 km).  Carry tools and spare parts. Make yourself visible! Wear Helmets; brightly-colored layers and waterproof clothing. Remember to carry food and to carry and drink lots of water.


Be prepared!  You may ride solo or in groups in Rocky where entrance fees do apply.   A weekly permit is $10 per bicycle.  Any bicycle group of more than 25 riders (including non-commercial and commercial) must contact the park Concession Office at 970-586-1209 for information on regulations, conditions, and permit requirements for cycling in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Be safe!  It is important to consider that Park roads have narrow or no shoulders and are often congested with heavy traffic.  Minimize conflicts with vehicles – Ride in the early morning hours when it is less busy, cooler, and safer on the road.  Try to be off the road in late afternoon when mountain thunderstorms and lightening create serious road biking hazards.


Leisure Bike Trails   Cruisers and families will appreciate the paved Lake Estes Bike Path. The ride is challenging without being overwhelming and the views are lovely. Thanks to nearby bike rentals www.estesparkmountainshop  and the ease of the route, even novices and young riders will be able to complete the picturesque 3.75-mile loop around the lake.


Cyclists looking for an extended ride can take the Lake Trail South, under the highway and through Stanley Park. This route continues south along Fish Creek, where cyclists can head west along the ponds at the Carriage Hills neighborhood, or continue south along Fish Creek to explore the beaver dams.


The Lake Estes Trail also connects with the downtown River Walk, where cyclists are asked to hop off and walk the bike through the busy pedestrian area. West past the downtown area cyclists can pick up the paved trail or ride the shoulder on up the scenic Fall River Road.


Bike Estes gives visitors group riding options.  Enthusiasts may enjoy taking a Saturday morning Show-n-Go Ride. The group meets at Kind Coffee, located at 470 E. Elkhorn Ave, at 7:00 a.m. Route length and difficulty varies. There’s always spectacular scenery and great company! Ride rain or shine! Saturday mornings from May 23 – Sept 5.  For more info please visit  or Group Rides

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Why Drive?

You are on vacation! Relax and enjoy the scenery while a pro does the driving for you!


Rocky Mountain Conservancy (right across the street from Boulder Brook) offers several excellent opportunities to relax and enjoy the wild.  The Grand Lake Safari, offered every Tuesday through August 25, is an all day outing to and from Grand Lake and includes trail and historic highlights, famous places, lots of photo ops, lunch, wildlife and leg-stretch stops.  The Journey to the Top! tour takes you up to Alpine Visitor Center and runs every Wednesday and Thursday through September 3.  The new Sunset Safari over Trail Ridge Road is offered every Friday evening through September 4. Experience the changing light, active wildlife, and calmness of dusk as you ascend in elevation from 7,522 feet in Estes Park to more than 12,090 feet. And if you are an Autumn visitor, Elk Expeditions – tours designed especially for elk viewing during the rut – are offered every Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening from September 7 through October 17.  For detailed tour descriptions and registration information and access please visit  All RMConservancy tours feature professional education guides who lead interpretive walks, talks and discussions on geology, flora, fauna, and the cultural history of Rocky at a number of pull-outs. Participants are provided with abundant photo ops and enjoy the comfort of a 12-14-passenger van or bus. Bus Tour registration includes Rocky Mountain National Park admission fees.


If you just “Gotta Go!” sign up for a Waterfall Hiking Tour or Photo Safari in the neon Green Jeep that can also time travel! Take the Rustic Ranch Tour back to the early 1800’s over rough and rocky terrain through large meadows with galloping horses.  For more information and/or to book your tour please visit or  call 970-577-0034.


Great for the whole family, Rocky Mountain Rush offers several luxury on and off-road tours. Let their guides take you to the “Top of the World” a 3.5 hour tour up Trail Ridge Road for panoramic vistas and awe-inspiring nature.  The shorter “Sunset Tour” is great for families with younger children and features wildlife watching and many photo-ops in the lower valley. For the full list and to book your tour please call 970-586-8687 or visit


And for everything else – to meander, eat and shop downtown, enjoy the scenery on the way to dinner, or take the family on a day trip into RMNP, be sure to use the free shuttle and in-the-park hiker shuttle. Service began on June 27 and continues throughout the summer.  The free shuttle stops right in front of Boulder Brook and takes you downtown or to the visitor center where you can pick up a hiker shuttle and ride to and from almost any day-hike destination in Rocky!


No driving. No parking. No traffic concerns.  Just sit back, relax, enjoy and leave the driving to us!


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With over 350 miles of trails covering over 265,000 acres, there are numerous fishing opportunities for both the casual angler and the seasoned expert.   Fish here for all wild trout including Brook, Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat including the Greenback.  There are options for Catch and Release fishing as well as Catch and Keep throughout the park.


Anglers can choose to cast their lines in the Big Thompson River below Lake Estes where the first 8 miles is a Catch and Release area.  For a deeper river experience, the Big Thompson Canyon offers more than 20 miles of public water between Estes Park and Loveland with 10 miles of prime Catch and Release fishing between Olympus Dam and Waltonia Bridge where anglers will find Rainbows and Browns.


If you want to fish with bait and/or fry up your fresh catch for dinner, Lake Estes is stocked with Rainbow Trout and is populated by Wild Brown Trout, Yellow Perch, Walleyes, and a few, rare Tiger Muskies.


Within RMNP, Sprague Lake is beautiful, and with easy access from the parking area, is also stroller, wheelchair, and family friendly.  Catch Brook or Brown Trout with bait while watching for Moose that live in the surrounding area.


Lily Lake is the most accessible Greenback fishery with fish reaching the 20-inch mark. It’s also family, stroller, and wheelchair friendly and features abundant aquatic life and fun, mountainside hiking trails that meander off the sides.


If you have never fished before and would like to try it, Trout Haven is an ideal destination.  They’ll teach you how and, since you won’t be able to throw back your catch, they’ll even prepare your fish for cooking!


Several great resources for information, daily reports,  equipment purchase and rental, and/or guided trips are available in Estes Park. A Colorado fishing license is required for all RMNP fishing.




Fishing Estes Park

Kirks Flyshop

Estes Park Mountain Shop

Trout Haven Fishing Pond


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There’s nothing like hay-breath to start your day!  Enjoy beautiful views, exhilarating mountain climbs, lush meadows and mountain flowers, wildlife, riversong, summer sun and horseback fun.  You don’t have to be advanced or even experienced to ride in the Rockies.  The local liveries have excellent guides to help you mount, enjoy a scenic or athletic ride, dismount, and thank your horse with kindness, carrots or sliced apples. (You bring those! Think of it as a tip for your mount.)


For the adventurous spirit or the nostalgic meander, enjoy miles of scenic mountain trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. National Park Gateway Stables located at the Fall River Visitor Center features back country meanders in Hidden Meadow and Little Horseshoe Park as well longer rides to Lawn Lake or Deer Mountain. Learn more or book your ride at   Enjoy a true mountain riding experience to elevation in Roosevelt National Forest at Cowpoke Corner with friendly, knowledgeable guides to assist there is a ride to accommodate all ages and abilities. SK Horses features beautiful, cared for and well-kept horses; a clean barn, leisurely paced, safe, scenic rides; quality equipment, rain gear and saddlebags, and excellent service all around.


YMCA of the Rockies Livery,  provides guests with memorable and safe riding experiences on the historic YMCA property and within RMNP.  Authorized by the National Park Service, Department of the interior to serve the public in RMNP, all rides are guided. Guests can choose to ride for an hour or for the day. Pony Rides and Hay Rides are also available.  Reservations are highly recommended.


Elkhorn Stables at the historic Elkhorn Lodge!price-list/cwa4 offers trail riding as well as private and semi-private riding lessons and boarding for your horse/s while you are here.  You’ll enjoy a small group (8-10) relaxed ride with your own personal wrangler who will share with you the history of Elkhorn Lodge, Old Man Mountain and Estes Park while you enjoy breathtaking views of the Continental Divide and the Estes Valley.  Please call 970-231-8467 to schedule your ride or book your horse’s stay!


Aspen Lodge offers a completely different view. Located at the base of Longs Peak, they offer riding tours from Roosevelt National Forest to Rocky Mountain National Park.  With rides to suit every age and skill level guests can also choose to round out a true mountain cowboy experience with a wagon ride, sunrise breakfast and/or cowboy supper! Please book by phone with Beaver Mountain Livery at 970-577-3448.


Whether you go out for an hour or for a day, remember the basics for horsey fun and safety. Hydration and sun protection are primary (Water, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, wind-breaker, etc.) Wear closed toe, preferably hard sole shoes or boots with smooth bottoms, long pants, sun screen and appropriate clothing so you are prepared and comfortable if there are sudden weather changes while you are out on your ride!  And most important – remember to thank your hard working horse with kisses, carrots or apple slices.  After all, it’ the little things like hay-breath that turn special moments into special occasions.

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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 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 Marys 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 Marys 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 or check out the history of Tavern 1929 at 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.


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 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 lots of character, lovely service and a delightful meal please visit Twin Owls Steakhouse (1929 Homestead);  The Dunraven Inn (Early 1930’s Homestead); or The Rock Inn (1937)

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



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. High water raft on Colorado’s best river, the Cache La Poudre, with Mountain Whitewater Descents where they are now enjoying a fabulous early season. With the river still in high water, you will enjoy a challenging, breathtaking 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 (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.


Experience why they are different!  Contact Phone: 888.855.8874 or 970.419.0917 or visit Mountain Whitewater Descents “Our Guides Make the Difference”  Send email or questions to


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 weigh 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.


A1 Wildwater Rafting 970-224-3379 or 800-369-4165   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.

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June Centennial Celebration Classes

Rocky Mountain Conservancy, right across the street from Boulder Brook, is an amazing resource for everyone.  Appropriate and engaging classes for Families, kids, and professionals seeking qualifying credit will find a superb variety of fun, interesting, and educational classes and adventures.  Here is the June Centennial Celebration Line up:




Art Adventures with Kristen Mosier Hill – June 17, 24  –  $15 per child ages 6-9   Children will learn about nature through various forms of art.  Activities will include learning to view art in nature (leaves, butterflies, cones, rocks, lichen, etc.) and to express appreciation of nature through sketching, painting and making collages and sculptures.  Children will be inspired by learning and creating in Rocky Mountain National Park. ♦♦  Meets at Lily Lake


Campfire Ghost Stories:  Living History Tales of the West – Jan Manning (Iron Thumb)     June 18     $10 per adult/child, children 5 and under FREE   People from the past come to life in this hour-long presentation about the history and adventures of several past residents and visitors to the Estes Valley.  Join these characters as they recount tales of humor, exploration and danger; learn what life was like for them during their stay in and around Rocky Mountain National Park.  Time for campfire questions and roasting marshmallows will follow the presentation. ♦  Meets at Disco Center  Amphitheater  *** Iron Thumb is a fictitious character representation of a 19th century fur trapper in the West.  Participants will hear tales of hunting beaver, view what historical figures wore, and see the tools they used to get their jobs done.


Campfire Ghost Stories:  Living History Tales of the West – Sue Langdon (Isabella Bird)     June 25   $10 per adult/child, children 5 and under FREE    People from the past come to life in this hour-long presentation about the history and adventures of several past residents and visitors to the Estes Valley.  Join these characters as they recount tales of humor, exploration and danger; learn what life was like for them during their stay in and around Rocky Mountain National Park.  Time for campfire questions and roasting marshmallows will follow the presentation.  ♦  Meets at Disco Center Amphitheatre   *** Throughout her life, Englishwoman Isabella Bird did something women of her time would rarely consider or be allowed to do—traveled the world by herself.  During the 1870’s, her journeys brought her to the West to find “the most beautiful place in all of the Americas” –Estes Park.  She ascended Longs Peak with the notorious Rocky Mountain Jim as her guide. Her delightful tales of travel and adventures which usually included surviving great perils made her a favorite author of travel articles and books.




100 Years, 100 Flowers: Wildflowers of RMNP  –  Leanne Benton     June 27-28     $140 per adult for both days or $80 for each day  Explore the wonder and diversity of the park’s wildflowers with a former Rocky Mountain National Park interpretive naturalist. The park’s vertical topography allows for a variety of habitats; this class will search out lush wildflower displays from montane meadows to high alpine ridges. Get up close with the mountain flora to discover their adaptations for survival and interesting stories behind their beautiful faces.  Hone identification techniques and gain confidence using a flower key. Day 1: montane and subalpine wildflowers. Day 2: alpine wildflowers.  ♦♦ CSM credit available Meets at FI




Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years —Mary Taylor Young     June 27-28     $140 per adult   Cover a billion years of park history… in a weekend! Roam the park with Mary Taylor Young, author of the park’s centennial history Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years. Discover traces of park history that lie beneath the surface and off the beaten path. See billion-year-old rocks, a game drive wall used by prehistoric hunters, Apache Fort, site of an early Indian battle, and the location of the 1915 Dedication Ceremony. Discover the “phantom” Big Thompson River park entrance and old entrance road. Explore early ranches, the remnant of a guest lodge, the site of the park’s ski area, and a 1930s CCC camp. Witness the changes floods in two different centuries have left on the park. ♦♦♦ CSM credit available Meets at FI




Technology of Your Ancestors: Primitive Survival Skills — Doug Hill     June 6     $70 per adult  Every person alive descended from ancestors surviving – and thriving! – in the Stone Age.  More than 99% of our time as a species was spent in the Stone Age.  Explore how the three innovations of creating fire, a sharp edge, and cordage from plant fibers changed the world forever.  Through an overview of the peopling of the Earth, we’ll learn how these innovations look in the archaeological record of Colorado.  Then we’ll create fire, stone tools, and cordage for ourselves.  ♦♦ Meets at FI


For more information or to register for a class call 970-586-3262 or go to and click on the learn with us tab.


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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