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Boulder Brook Blog

Have you ever seen Elk play?

Did you know they are great swimmers?


One sunny afternoon at Mary’s Lake I watched a small harem of about a dozen females and their dozen or so offspring run like excited kids down the side of the hill straight into the lake. The cows guided their young ones with calls and pokes of nose and were only a little more sedate than the young ones who chased, frolicked, ran and swam in the beautiful, cool water.


Behind the last cow came a sleek and massive Bull – his smooth, copper hide almost glowing in the early afternoon sunshine. Unlike the gamboling youngsters, the Bull took the trail and entry into the lake at a stately pace, cooling first his legs and belly and drinking deeply, before plunging in for cooling dip.


While the Bull enjoyed his bath and the Matriarch watched from a short distance, the “children” played. A couple of adolescents poked, chased and teased one another – “Tag! You’re it!”  One of the littlest ventured out, swam for a bit and having noticed “mom” had stepped out of the water, ran, like an excited little kid to her side (Mom! I did it! I swam!) and received an obvious kiss and lick of apparent care and affection.


One of the larger adolescents, having trotted in and out of the water several times with the group, broke off from her sisters, raced into the water and splashed about behind “big daddy” – running closer, splashing, turning, kicking up a bit of spray, running out, and turning to do it all over again. The Bull remained sedate though it appeared he noticed and may have even been amused by her antics. I certainly was.



Enjoy our wonderful Elk and golden autumn in Rocky at this year’s Elk Fest – a free, fun and educational outdoor family friendly event.  Held on October 4 and 5, Elk Fest features bugling competitions, learning opportunities, live music, a Mountain Man Rendezvous, Native American storytelling and music, a display of raptors, a kids’ corral, a variety of vendors offering memorable souvenirs and plenty of good food. The “Wallowing Hole” beer garden serves daily from 11am – 4pm. The popular bluegrass band, Giddy Up Kitty, will be taking the stage on Saturday from 12:30pm – 2:30pm.


Rocky Mountain Conservancy will be on site for easy booking of your Elk Expedition. Thrill to spectacular displays of herding, bugling, posturing, playing, mating behaviors,  Elk Q&A and “Show-and-Tell” in the comfort of a mini-bus staffed by a professional educational guide.


Elk Expedition Tours are available each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening between September 11 and October 18 (View dates and times at: )  Fee: $40 per adult, $20 per child (12 and under).  Register: 970-586-3262 or visit


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It’s Bugling Season – View and Enjoy In Safety!

It’s pretty exciting around here.  The annual rut has begun. The Bull Elk are all antlered up, huge, sleek, powerful, and amazingly beautiful as they commence bugling and challenging one another for breeding rights.


Yes, they are awesome, amazing and beautiful. They are also wild animals in the throes of breeding season which makes Bulls especially vigilant, irritable, jumpy, and understandably “pumped-up” as there is very important work to be done, and the rut is energetically extremely demanding.


Avoid potential accident, injury or death by always viewing from a safe distance.  If an animal is carefully watching you and appears “jumpy” or “twitchy” you are way too close.  Avoid eye contact and back away. Use the zoom instead.


Keep dogs leashed and quiet. Do not allow them to bark, lunge at or chase wildlife.


Never block traffic. “Elk Jams” are a danger to everyone – blocking traffic on single lane roads creates all kinds of potentially dangerous situations.  Be sure to pull completely off the roadway, out of the way of through traffic.  Walk on the “sidewalk side” of the vehicle and remember too, not to surround or “corner” an animal while viewing.


Never, ever imitate an elk call or bugle during the rut. Not only does each elk have his/her own identifiable “voice,” different bugles actually mean different things. “Saying” the wrong thing at the wrong time could endanger both you and the herd.


Please respect private property.  Elk know no boundaries. We love that about them — especially when we can watch a big, beautiful bull bugling and herding his cows through the middle of town or through the neighborhood or if you are here at Boulder Brook, up from the river and across our front lawn.


Remember – Elk are wild animals. Be aware and be respectful. View quietly from a safe distance. Never attempt to touch or feed wildlife. Keep dogs leashed and quiet.  Use the zoom. And if you see someone who is being careless or unsafe, or making it unsafe for others, make the call.





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Scottish-Irish Highlands Festival

It doesn’t get any better than magnificent late summer weather and full days of music, entertainment, shopping, and spectator events. Here’s the schedule:


Opening Event: Thursday, September 4th 7:30p – Tattoo Estes – Fairgrounds at Stanley Park

An extravagant show of Bagpipes, drummers, dancers, clans in tartan, Dogs of the British Isles, brass military bands and precision drill teams give a preview of what can be seen on the festival field.



Daily Festival Hours, Events, Entertainment & Shopping 9a – 5p Friday, Saturday, Sunday, September 5, 6, 7



Friday 9a – 5p Music Seamus Kennedy, Ed Miller, Highland Way, Celtica, Tartan Terrors, The Elders, CAL Michael Callaghan, The Fountain City Brass Band, The 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes & Drums, The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, Band of America’s Few, Bag Pipe Competition.


Friday, 9:30a -5p US/International Jousting Championships Games, Light Armor & Heavy Armor

Friday 10a – 4: Scottish Athletics on the Festival Field
Strong Man Competition. Hammer throws,
putting the stone, and caber throwing contest (competitors toss a 19’7″ /140 lb. caber end over end!)


Friday, 11a – 4p Dogs Of the British Isles Dog Agility & Herding, Terrier Races & Canine Exhibit Booths


Friday, 7:30p Tattoo Estes Fairgrounds at Stanley Park:  An extravagant show of patriotism and celebration of international cooperation

Friday, 7:30p Folk Estes Celtic Concert
at the Events Complex at Estes Park Fairgrounds featuring Highland Way, Seamus Kennedy, Ed Miller, and Cal


Saturday, September 6th


Saturday 9:30a Highlander 5K (4mile) Run through the start of the Parade! Pre-registration required.


Saturday, 9:30a Downtown Parade Everyone loves a parade! Note: Elkhorn Ave will be closed from 8:30a through parade end and free shuttle services will be limited.


Saturday 9a-5p Music Seamus Kennedy, Ed Miller, Highland Way, Celtica, Tartan Terrors, The Elders, CAL Michael Callaghan, The Fountain City Brass Band, The 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes & Drums, The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, Band of America’s Few, Bag Pipe Competition.

Saturday 10a-4p Scottish Athletics on the Festival Field
Amateur Championships & Heavy Athletic Professional Championships. Hammer throws, putting the stone, and caber throwing contest (competitors toss a 19’7″ /140 lb. caber end over end!)


Saturday 9:30a-5p US/ International Jousting Championships Games, Light Armor & Heavy Armor


Saturday 11a-5p Dogs of the British Isles View the dogs in the main parade in Downtown Estes Park, 9am; 1 pm Grand March of the Dogs; 11am- 5pm, Dog Agility & Herding, Terrier Races & Dog Exhibit Booths


Saturday 1p Highlands Golf Tournament Team golf tournament at the 18 Hole Golf Course. Pre-registration required. 


Saturday 9a Highland Dance Performances & Competitions (Morris, Welch, Scottish, Irish)


Saturday 7:30p Tattoo Estes on the Fairgrounds at Stanley Park:  An extravagant show of patriotism and celebration of international cooperation


Saturday 7:30p Rock Estes Celtic Concert at the Events Complex at Stanley Fairgrounds featuring Tartan Terrors, Celtica, and The Elders


Sunday, September 7th


Sunday 9a-5p Music Seamus Kennedy, Ed Miller, Highland Way, Celtica, Tartan Terrors, The Elders, CAL Michael Callaghan, The Fountain City Brass Band, The 1st Battalion Scots Guards Pipes & Drums, The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, Band of America’s Few, Bag Pipe Competition.


Sunday 10a-4p Scottish Athletics on the Festival field Amateur Championships Competition. Hammer throws, putting the stone, and caber throwing contest (competitors toss a 19’7″ /140 lb. caber end over end!)


Sunday 9:30a-5p US/ International Jousting Championships Games, Light Armor & Heavy Armor


Sunday 9a-5p Dogs Of the British Isles  Grand March of the Dogs 1p. Dog Agility & Herding, Terrier Races & Disc Dogs 9:30a-5p


Sunday 9a Highland Dance Performances & Competitions (Morris, Welch, Scottish, Irish)



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Become a Junior Ranger or just get to know one!

RMNP Rangers are a wealth of engaging and helpful information. Whether you want to track animals, identify flora, learn about wildlife, geology, or trees, or just find your way through the Park, the Rangers are amazing resources and they’re ready willing and able to share their knowledge and experience with you!  Introduce yourself to a Ranger and ask away!


Become a Junior Ranger and Earn a Badge

Junior Rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park have fun discovering the natural world, while learning about why we need to protect the special treasures found in our National Parks. We need the help of all our rangers to keep Rocky preserved and protected for many more years to come. Pick up a free Junior Ranger activity booklet at any visitor contact station, learn about the park and become a ranger by earning your badge today!


Junior Ranger Headquarters is a Place Just for Kids!

The Junior Ranger Headquarters, located at Moraine Park Discovery Center along Bear Lake Road, is a place just for kids! Join a ranger-led program, complete your Junior Ranger book, and earn a badge all in one place. The Junior Ranger Headquarters is open from June 21 – August 17, in the summer of 2014. Programs are offered 4 times a day, 6 days a week, and times are 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 1:30 PM, & 2:30 PM. Programs last 30 minutes and are geared for kids ages 6-12. The Discovery Center is open daily from 9am -4:30pm.  It is free to participate, and a parent or adult must be present with children at all times.


Tuesday at Junior Ranger Headquarters is Discovery Day! This is a family-friendly walk-in program that goes from 9:00 AM -1:00 PM. Each week there is something new to discover.


For more information on becoming a Junior Ranger please visit


Free Ranger Led Programs


Every Saturday and Sunday at 3pm: Skins and Skulls Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Pet an Elk or Mountain Lion.  Cuddle up to a bear or Beaver.  Check out those fangs!  Come to Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to safely feel skins and skulls while learning about park wildlife. 20-30 minutes.


Every Saturday 7pm:  Beaver Meadows Evening Programs feature a wide variety of informative and entertaining topics.  Meet in the downstairs auditorium at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.


Daily:  See the stunning 23-minute park movie at the Beaver Meadows visitor center during normal business hours. This movie features spectacular aerial footage of the park’s rugged high country, as well as wildlife and other park resources. Available upon request. Available en español and English.


Visitor and Information Centers in RMNP


Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Open daily 8a – 4:30p Park information, free park movie, bookstore and park information.


Fall River Visitor Center Open daily 9a – 5p features life-sized wildlife displays, a discovery room where kids can touch objects and dress up as rangers, American Indians, and pioneers; and a book store.


Alpine Visitor Center – open daily (weather permitting) 10:30a-4:30p. Features extraordinary views of alpine tundra, displays, information, bookstore, adjacent gift shop and snack bar. Call 586-1222 for Trail Ridge Road conditions.


Sheep Lakes Information Station – open daily 9a -4:30p features information and ranger programs. Horseshoe Park is a good place to look for elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes and badgers.


Park Information: (970) 586-1206


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Time Travel – Historic Estes Park

Historical markers, buildings, trails and stories of early inhabitants, visitors and ancestors can be found throughout Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. Here are a few family friendly ideas for real time travel:


Baldpate Inn – With Longs Peak in the backdrop, the Baldpate Inn is home to the world’s largest key collection (over 20,000 keys with examples from The Pentagon, Westminster Abby, Mozart’s wine cellar, Frankenstein’s castle)  a remarkable Photograph Collection (Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Lana Turner, Wild Bill Cody, Jack London, Tetrazinni) and a world of history spanning 103 years.  The dining room features a daily fresh salad buffet, complemented by delicious homemade soups, breads, and pies.  The Baldpate offers fun family events including live Radio Plays at the Key-thedral Theater and weekly “Summer Enchanted Evenings” each Wednesday at 7pm.



Set at the base of “Old Man Mountain” Elkhorn Lodge is the oldest hotel in Estes Park and is home to the first Estes Park school house (1886), Church (1890) and the original stage terminal – the Coach House.  The ‘old main lodge’ dates back to 1871 and is still in use as the oldest continually occupied structure in Estes Park.  Prior to receiving its first guests in 1874, the property consisted of an old lodge and a barn.  In addition to casual, delicious family dining at Cheezy Lees (pizza, soup & salad bar, gourmet bakery) Elkhorn Lodge is also home to Ranahan Ranch – a classic dude ranch with access to wonderful trails and spectacular views.    Elkhorn Lodge boasts ghosts!  Unexplained phenomena at the Elkhorn Lodge dates back to when the property was still a cattle ranch in the early 1870’s.  Throughout the years, both visitors and staff members have reported encounters with “permanent” residents. Schedule a ride at or book your tour at



The inspiration for Stephen King’s famous haunted hotel, The Stanley proudly shares its historic “permanent” residents in a variety of activities including historical and Ghost Tours and Ghost Hunts.    The hotel itself is the brainchild of F.O. Stanley, who, in 1909, purchased 140 acres of land and designed a luxurious hotel for vacationing Easterners.  To foster tourism, F.O. Stanley built the road between Lyons and Estes Park and utilized specially built Stanley Steamer Busses to transport visitors and guests to and from the train station.  He also designed a power plant for the hotel, a manor house, casino building, tennis courts, a 9-hole golf course, trap shooting range and an airfield for small planes. The Stanleys were also responsible for the establishment of the first bank, and sewer, power, and water company in Estes Park. (Visitors can tour the hydraulic power plant on Old Fall River Road. ) An inventive family, the brothers established the first commercial violin manufacturing company; invented a home generator for gas lighting, and pioneered work in the development of early x-ray equipment.  In addition to ghosts, tours and history, The Stanley features a the beautiful Cascades Restaurant and a Whiskey Bar for “people watching.”


Need more?  Visit Estes Park Museum  take a free Downtown Historical Walking tour or best yet, come stay with us and check out the Heritage Festival  (August 23-24) where you’ll get to ride in a Stanley Steamer or an antique draft horse-drawn wagon, learn about our hearty pioneer settlers, and help build a long cabin – you know – time travel.



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Old Fall River Road – Closed To All Uses For Flood Damage Repairs

Old Fall River Road is a historic, 9.4-mile winding, narrow historic dirt road built between 1913 and 1920 that traverses Mount Chapin’s south face to the Alpine Visitor Center.


Both the road and the Alluvial Fan bridge sustained significant damages during the September 2013 flood. On Monday, July 28, Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park will close to all uses including pedestrians and hikers, as major repair work begins.


The closure area on Old Fall River Road will extend from the road west of the Lawn Lake Trailhead parking area to the Alpine Visitor Center.  This closure includes the Alluvial Fan and the east and west Alluvial Fan parking areas.  The closure extends 200 feet from the center line to both sides of the road corridor.  This closure does not include the Fall River waterway and bank.  Areas affected by this closure may be adjusted as construction work proceeds.


Repair work from flood damages has been completed in many areas of the park.  Work is ongoing on some backcountry bridges and trails.  For more detailed information and updates about flood impacts in Rocky Mountain National Park please visit the park’s website, or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.

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Amazing Tours – Gorgeous, Educational, Fun!

Why drive? when there is a brilliant resource providing a unique opportunity to learn from experienced, Park-endorsed naturalists right across the street from Boulder Brook! Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute, the non-profit partner of Rocky Mountain National Park, provides daily tours to Bear Lake, Grand Lake, and Top-of-the-World Alpine Visitor Center.  Full day course registration includes Lunch and Park Entrance fees are always included.


If you are here on Tuesday, take a Grand Lake Safari!  Rocky Mountain National Park contains breathtaking scenery, ample wildlife viewing, and opportunities to connect with the past as you travel across Trail Ridge Road, the scenic and awe-inspiring by-way across the Continental Divide. Your guide provides a unique overview of the Park’s history, flora, fauna, and geology while traversing the breathtaking Trail Ridge Road landscapes from the comfort of a 14-passenger bus or 12-passenger van. Many photo-ops, and pull-off stops along the wayincluding the Alluvial Fan, Rainbow Curve, Alpine Visitor Center, Milner Pass (Continental Divide), Holzwarth Historic Site, and the historic town of Grand Lake. Both lunch and admission into Rocky Mountain National Park are included. Registration: Adults $85 Children 12 and under $55.  TIME: 8am-5pm


If you are here on Wednesday or Thursday take a Journey to the Top of Trail Ridge Road – the premier attraction of RMNP. The nation’s highest continuous paved highway meanders through various life zones on its way through the Park and over one of the largest, most pristine stretches of alpine tundra in the lower 48 states. Guides provide a unique overview of the Park’s history, flora, fauna, and geology as you view landscapes from the comfort of a 14-passenger bus or 12-passenger van. Great photo-ops, wildlife viewing, not much walking. Visit  the Alluvial Fan, Rainbow Curve, Milner Pass (Continental Divide), and the Alpine Visitor Center. Both lunch and admission into Rocky Mountain National Park are included in the registration fee. No driving needed! Take the free shuttle from Boulder Brook to the Fall River Visitor Center. Registration: Adults $65 Children 12 and under $35. TIME: 9am-3:30pm



If you are here on Thursday, Escape to Bear Lake! Enjoy a spectacular view of a high mountain lake with Continental Divide peaks as the scenic backdrop. Your guide provides interesting cultural and natural history and leads a short, gentle walk through the subalpine terrain. The driving portion of this tour provides both an overview of the Bear Lake corridor (including the geology of Moraine Park and the natural history of the subalpine life zone) and a chance to view wildlife (Moose!) along the shores of Sprague Lake. Take the free shuttle from Boulder Brook to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Adults $40 Children 12 and under $20 Time: 8am-12noon


Pick up a flyer at check-in or visit to sign up for one of these great tours and many other wonderful natural adventures!

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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