Friday, April 18, 2008
Estes Park is a favorite destination for many reasons. The drive takes you through a scenic canyon with high, rocky walls and rugged landscape that fringe the Big Thompson River that cuts through it. Estes Park marks the eastern entrance into Rocky Mountain National Park which affords endless hiking, picnicking, photo, and sightseeing opportunities.
The town of Estes Park also has a variety of restaurants, theaters, and shops where you can find places to dine and purchase every imaginable tourist souvenir. Of course, there is also a supermarket and hardware store for all your camping needs.
We stayed at the National Parks Retreat Campground. This is a nice facility with hot showers and a coffee shop, but be warned that it is set on the side of a mountain, and the campsites are terraced up the hillside. This means that almost every site has excellent mountain views, but it can be tricky negotiating the curves and maneuvering into your site. [Since the time of this posting, the National Parks Retreat Campground no longer offers camp sites]
During our stay we saw herds of elk and deer, which wander freely in and out of the Park. This area offers many wildlife viewing opportunities, so be sure to always have your camera handy. It is not all that uncommon to also see mountain goats and moose.
Be sure to allow time to visit the historic Stanley Hotel, named for F.O. Stanley of the Stanley Motor Company and manufacturer of the famous "Stanley Steamer". The hotel is also said to have inspired Stephen King's novel, "The Shining".