Estes Park, Colorado, is an iconic mountain town that is known for its stunning natural beauty, wildlife, and outdoor recreation opportunities. However, the town has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 1800s.
The first recorded visit to the area that is now Estes Park was by Joel Estes and his family in 1859. They were searching for a new place to settle and were struck by the beauty of the area. The Estes family built a cabin and began farming the land, which would become the foundation for the town that would eventually bear their name.
The town of Estes Park began to grow in the late 1800s, thanks in part to the arrival of the Denver, Utah and Pacific Railroad in 1904. The railroad made it easier for people to travel to the area and the town soon became a popular tourist destination.
One of the most significant events in Estes Park’s history occurred in 1915 when the Rocky Mountain National Park was established. The park covers more than 415 square miles and is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and black bears. The establishment of the park helped to ensure the preservation of the area’s natural beauty for generations to come.
Throughout the early 20th century, Estes Park continued to grow. Many of the town’s most iconic landmarks were built during this time, including the Stanley Hotel, which was completed in 1909. The hotel is famous for its role in inspiring Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.”
During World War II, Estes Park played a significant role in the war effort. Camp Hale, which was located nearby, served as a training site for the 10th Mountain Division, a specialized unit of soldiers trained in mountain warfare. Many of the soldiers who trained at Camp Hale went on to fight in the Italian Alps, where their skills proved invaluable.
In the decades that followed, Estes Park continued to grow and develop, becoming a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Today, the town is home to a vibrant community of residents and businesses, and the natural beauty of the surrounding area continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
Estes Park’s history is a fascinating and rich tapestry that tells the story of a small mountain town that grew into a beloved destination as the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. From the early settlers who first saw the potential of the area to the soldiers who trained for mountain warfare during World War II, the town’s history is a testament to the resilience and spirit of the people who call Estes Park home.
If you are thinking about visiting Estes Park and exploring its history, consider staying at our of our luxury vacation rentals Park Entrance Lodge or Lake Estes Retreat. They are conveniently located and either will give you the perfect base for exploration.