Auditors: We are getting closer to Big Sky of the Rockies, so we thought now would be a good time to start letting you know some great stuff about our conference location this year. In no particular order, here are 6 great things about Estes Park.
If you love mountain majesty, sweeping views, and breathtaking photo ops, Estes Park is going to tick all your boxes. Take a drive up Trail Ridge Road and stop at the many pull-outs to enjoy some of the best scenery anywhere. If you have extra time, keep going on Trail Ridge Road to the western side of the park and take in the views of the Kawuneeche Valley and Grand Lake.
Estes Park is on the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park, which has enough trails to keep even the most avid hiker busy for quite a long time. They range in difficulty from easy to hard-core. Watch for a future post on a few recommended hikes in the area.
Estes Park has some unique dining experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. The city has done a good job of mainly keeping chain restaurants out, so you get true, local flavor. We can personally recommend Ed’s Cantina (Mexican), Poppy’s Pizza & Grill, and Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ. Another nice place is the Trailhead Restaurant at the Fall River Visitor Center, which has a deck with nice views and great elk burgers. For eating in, Antonio’s Drive Thru Pizza stand is unbeatable. If you make it to the western side of the park, try the Sagebrush Grill & BBQ for fantastic sandwiches.
RMNP is a great place to see all sorts of wildlife. While we can’t guarantee you will see anything, it’s more than likely you will see something. In the past two years we’ve seen elk, deer, marmots, pikas, big horn sheep, pine martens, tons of birds, and just once, a bear. If you get lucky, you might also see a moose, though these are usually on the western side of the park.
If hiking is not to your taste, there are lots of other recreational activities. You can fish and flyfish, ride horses, visit a spa, take a jeep tour, rent kayaks, paddleboats and stand-up paddleboards (at Grand Lake, about 50 miles away on the west side of the Park), take a hayride, do go karts or bumper boats, play mini golf, or just stroll around downtown (see number 6 below).
Downtown Estes Park has a gorgeous pedestrian walkway that stretches from the Visitor’s Center to the end of the shopping district. It’s beautifully landscaped and decorated with potted flowers and many restaurants have patios that overlook both the river walk and the Big Thompson River. There’s also a fun “Find the Pika” activity that starts in the Riverwalk and is meant for kids but is fun for everyone and really takes you all over the downtown area hunting for the little bronze pika statues. It is a nice refuge from the traffic along the main shopping drag, both human and automotive.
Stay tuned for more information about RMNP and some of the topics we”re going to cover at this year’s conference. We are looking forward to a great Big Sky experience!