|Estes Park, Colorado|
Panorama of Estes Park as seen from Lumpy Ridge
Location of Estes Park in Larimer County, Colorado
|Incorporated (town)||April 17, 1917|
|Total||5.9 sq mi (15.2 km2)|
|Land||5.8 sq mi (15.1 km2)|
|Water||0.1 sq mi (0.1 km2) 0.85%|
|Elevation||7,522 ft (2,293 m)|
|Density||929.5/sq mi (359.1/km2)|
|Time zone||MST (UTC-7)|
|Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC-6)|
|GNIS feature ID||0204674|
Estes Park is a town in Larimer County, Colorado, United States. A popular summer resort and the location of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park lies along the Big Thompson River. Estes Park had a population of 5,858 at the 2010 census.
Before Europeans came to the Estes Park valley, the Arapaho indians lived there in the summertime and called the valley "the Circle." When three elderly Arapahoes visited Estes Park in 1914, they pointed out sites they remembered from their younger days. A photograph at the Estes Park Museum identified the touring party as Shep Husted, guide; Gun Griswold, a 73 year old judge; Sherman Sage, a 63 year old chief of police; Tom Crispin, 38 year old reservation resident and interpreter; Oliver W. Toll, recorder; and David Robert Hawkins, a Princeton student.
In the 1850s, the Arapaho had spent summers camped around Mary's Lake, where their rock fireplaces, tipi sites, and dance rings were still visible. They also recalled building eagle traps atop Long's Peak to get the war feathers coveted by all tribes. They remembered their routes to and from the valley in detail, naming trails and landmarks. They pointed out the site of their buffalo trap, and described the use of dogs to pack meat out of the valley. Their recollections included a battle with Apaches in the 1850s, and fights with Utes who came to the area to hunt bighorn sheep, so all three of those tribes used the valley's resources.
Whites probably came into the Estes Park valley before the 1850s as trappers, but did not stay long. The town is named after Missouri native Joel Estes, who founded the community in 1859. Estes moved his family there in 1863. One of Estes' early visitors was William Byers, a newspaper editor who wrote of his ascent of Long's Peak in 1864, publicizing the area as a pristine wilderness.
Griff Evans and his family came to Estes Park in 1867 to act as caretakers for the former Estes ranch. Recognizing the potential for tourism, he began building cabins to accommodate travelers. Soon it was known as the first dude ranch in Estes Park, with guides for hunting, fishing, and mountaineering.
The Earl of Dunraven arrived in late December 1872, visited repeatedly, and decided to take over the valley for his own private hunting preserve. His land grab didn't work, but he controlled 6,000 acres before he changed tactics and opened the area's first resort, the Estes Park Hotel, which was destroyed by fire in 1911.
In 1873, Englishwoman Isabella Bird, the daughter of an Anglican minister, came to the United States. Landing at San Francisco, she came overland to Colorado, where she borrowed a horse and set out to explore the Rocky Mountains with a guide, the notorious Mountain Jim. She wrote a memoir of their travels, including the breathtaking ascent of Long's Peak, where she was literally hauled up the steep pitches "like a bale of goods."
Alex and Clara (Heeney) MacGregor arrived soon after and homesteaded at the foot of Lumpy Ridge. The MacGregor Ranch has been preserved as a historic site. In 1874, MacGregor incorporated a company to build a new toll road from Lyons, Colorado to Estes Park. The road became what is today U.S. Highway 36. Before that time, however, the "road" was only a trail fit for pack horses. The improved road brought more visitors into Estes Park; some of them became full-time residents and built new hotels to accommodate the growing number of travelers.
In 1884, Enos Mills (1870-1922) left Kansas and came to Estes Park, where his relative Rev. Elkanah Lamb lived. That move proved significant for Estes Park because Mills became a naturalist and conservationist who devoted his life after 1909 to preserving nearly a thousand square miles of Colorado as Rocky Mountain National Park. He succeeded and the park was dedicated in 1915.
Enos Mills' younger brother Joe Mills (1880-1935) came to Estes Park in 1889. He wrote a series of articles about his youthful experiences for Boys Life and were later published as a book. After some years as a college athletics coach, he and his wife returned to Estes Park and built a hotel called The Crags on the north side of Prospect Mountain, overlooking the village. They ran that business in the summer while he continued his coaching career in winters at University of Colorado in Boulder.
Many early visitors came to Estes Park in search of better health. The Rocky Mountain West especially attracted those with pulmonary diseases, and in Estes Park some resorts catered to them, providing staff physicians for their care.
In 1903, a new road was opened from Loveland through the Big Thompson River canyon to Estes Park, increasing access to the valley. In 1907, three Loveland men established the first auto stage line from Loveland to Estes Park with three five-passenger touring Stanley Steamers. The following year, Mr. Stanley built nine-passenger steam busses and opened a bus line between Lyons and Estes Park.
By 1912, Estes Park had its own seasonal newspaper, the Estes Park Trail, which provided advertising for the local hotels and other businesses. It was a year-round weekly by 1921.
Today, Estes Park's outskirts include The Stanley Hotel, built in 1909. An example of Edwardian opulence, the building had Stephen King as a guest, inspiring him to change the locale for his novel The Shining from an amusement park to the Stanley's fictional stand-in, the Overlook Hotel.
Land was still being homesteaded in the area in 1914, when Katherine Garetson (1877-1963) filed on land near the base of Long's Peak. She built a cabin and started a business known as the Big Owl Tea Place. She proved up on her homestead claim in 1915, and left a memoir of her years there.
The town suffered severe damage in July 1982 from flooding caused by the failure of Lawn Lake Dam. The flood's alluvial fan can still be seen on Fall River Road. The downtown area was extensively renovated after the flood, and a river walk was added between the main street, Elkhorn Avenue, and the Big Thompson River.
Estes Park sits at an elevation of 7,522 feet (2,293 m) on the front range of the Rocky Mountains at the eastern entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Its location is . Its north, south and east extremities border the Roosevelt National Forest. Lumpy Ridge lies immediately north of Estes Park.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.9 square miles (15 km2), of which 5.8 square miles (15 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.85%) is water.
Estes Park has long been a destination for visitors seeking clear skies, fresh air, outdoor activities, and beautiful scenery. The humidity is typically low. Winter temperatures can drop to well below zero.
|Climate data for Estes Park, Colorado|
|Record high °F (°C)||53 |
|Average high °F (°C)||38 |
|Average low °F (°C)||17 |
|Record low °F (°C)|| 43 |
| 40 |
| 30 |
| 19 |
| 8 |
| 28 |
| 35 |
| 43 |
|Precipitation inches (mm)||1.52 |
In August 1900, Estes Park had a population of 218 in 63 households. Most (73) were born in Colorado. Eighteen were born in other countries: Canada (4), England (4), Germany (4), Finland (3), and one each from Holland, Scotland, and Ireland. Eighty had been born in midwestern states, and thirty from states in the northeast.
As of the census of 2010, 5,858 people, 2,796 households, and 1,565 families resided in the town of Estes Park. The population density was 929.5 inhabitants per square mile (358.9 /km2). There were 4,107 housing units at an average density of 570.6 per square mile (220.3 /km2). The racial makeup of the town was 91.0% White, 0.3% African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 2% Pacific Islander, 5.5% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14% of the population.
There were 2,541 households out of which 20.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.3% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.61.
In the town the population was spread out with 17.6% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 29.4% from 45 to 64, and 20.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 92.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $43,262, and the median income for a family was $55,667. Males had a median income of $31,573 versus $20,767 for females. The per capita income for the town was $30,499. About 3.2% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.6% of those under age 18 and 0.8% of those age 65 or over.
Estes Park was home to a number of now defunct ski areas:
Estes Park vicinity was also the home of other resorts and tourist attractions.
The town flooded in 1982 and suffered extensive damage due to the failure, "after years of disrepair and neglect", of an earthen dam several miles upstream.
Both U.S. Highway 36 and U.S. Highway 34, the major routes into town, were severely damaged. Hundreds of Estes Park residents were also isolated by the destruction of sections of Fish Creek Road and all nine crossings across Fish Creek. Damaged sewer lines dumped raw sewage down the creek and into the Big Thompson River.
The main airport serving Estes Park is Denver International Airport, located 75 miles southeast.
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