Old Fall River Road
This road is the original road up to the Alpine Visitors Center and down to Grand Lake. The road was built in 1920 with convict labor. The road was originally a two-way road driven by Ford Model T’s. Due to rock slides, the road was closed for many years beyond Chasm Falls. I drove on the road when it was a two-way road to Chasm Falls. The Old Fall River Road is currently a one-way road up only. The Old Fall River Road is a 9-mile gravel road that usually opens on July 4th and closes in mid-October. As you drive The Old Fall River Road you will reach Chasm Falls Parking Area about 1.4 miles from the Endovalley Campground and Picnic Area. Chasm Falls is one of the prettiest water falls in Rocky Mountain National Park. As you continue up The Old Fall River Road you will encounter the area where the rock slides wiped out the road. You will see the large wire baskets holding tons of rocks in a stair step formation, which is stopping the rocks from sliding down and damaging the road. As you get close to tree line, you will encounter the Mount Chapin Trail Head and Parking Area. Once you reach the top of The Old Fall River Road you will be at the Alpine Visitor Center Parking Area. The parking area fills up fast during the summer season, so you should plan on getting an early start to drive up The Old Fall River Road.
Trail Ridge Road
This road holds the distinction of being the highest continuous highway in the United States. Trail Ridge Road is 50 miles long from Estes Park on the East to Grand Lake on the West. Starting at the Beaver Meadows Park Entrance on U.S. Highway 36, we begin the drive-up Trail Ridge Road. After driving for 4.2 miles, you will come to Deer Ridge Junction where U.S. Highway 36 and 34 meet. Horseshoe Park is in the valley to the right. If you want to visit Horseshoe Park, follow U.S. Highway 34 down to the park.
To continue on Trail Ridge Road, go straight through the junction. After driving for 6.7 miles, you will come to the former Hidden Valley Ski Area. There is hiking there in the summer and sledding, snowshoeing and back country skiing in the winter. After driving for 8.3 miles, you will come to the Many Parks Curve Parking Area. Views of Horseshoe Park, Beaver Meadows and Moraine Park are available from this vantage point. After driving for 12.4 miles, you will come to the Rainbow Curve Parking Area, which is close to tree line and provides grand views of the Mummy Range.
As you continue on Trail Ridge Road you enter the alpine tundra. After driving for 15.3 miles, you will come to the Forest Canyon Overlook Parking Area. A short asphalt paved path leads to the observation deck. Across the valley is the Hayden Gorge and the Gorge Lakes. The highest mountain above the Gorge Lakes is Mount Ida. After driving for 17.4 miles, you will come to the Rock Cut Parking Area. This is the trail head for the Tundra World Nature Trail and the Toll Memorial. After driving for 19.5 miles, you will come to the Lava Cliffs Parking Area, which overlooks the rust colored 300-foot Lava Cliffs that were carved out by glacial action. Iceberg Lake lies at the base of the Lava Cliffs.
After driving for 21.6 miles, you will come to the Alpine Visitor Center Parking Area. The Trail Ridge Store and Alpine Visitor Center are located here. During the summer months, the parking area is very crowded and finding a parking spot can be difficult during the main part of the day. After driving for 22.1 miles, you will come to the Medicine Bow Curve Parking Area. The overlook provides a view of the Cache La Poudre River Valley and the Medicine Bow Mountain Range to the Northwest, which extends into Wyoming.
As you continue on Trail Ridge Road you drive back below tree line. After driving for 26 miles, you will come to the Milner Pass/Poudre Lake Parking Area. This is the point where Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide. The parking area is very small and does not hold very many cars. The Mount Ida trail starts at the Milner Pass/Poudre Lake Parking Area and those hiking to Mount Ida will take many of the parking spots. From here Trail Ridge Road descends into the Kawuneeche Valley, through which the Colorado River runs. The Never Summer Mountains are West of the Valley. The Colorado River Trailhead is also located in the valley and is the starting point for the Little Yellowstone hike. Trail Ridge Road continues on to the West entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake and Lake Granby.
The Church on the Rocks
The Chapel at Camp St. Malo on Colorado Highway 7 south of the Lily Lake and Twin Sisters Parking Area, is built on the rocks and is quite a breathtaking sight to see.
Built in 1955, the Aerial Tramway is located at 420 East Riverside Drive in Estes Park. It takes about 3.5 minutes to go up the 1100 vertical feet to the top of the Aerial Tramway located on Prospect Mountain. The Aerial Tramway is a free span with the car coming down pulling the car going up. The best time to go is shortly after they open at 9:00 am in the morning. The crowd is smaller and the sun light on the Front Range in the morning makes for great picture taking.
Devil’s Gulch Road
The Devil’s Gulch Road is Colorado Highway 43 that is accessed off of U.S. Highway 34 North of Downtown Estes Park. The steep drop down the gulch is quite something. You can drive to the village of Glen Haven, where they have an Old English Pub where you can relax and see the sights.
The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 by F.O. Stanley and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel was made famous by the movie The Shining with Jack Nicholson, which was shot on location at the hotel. My wife and I love to go to the Whiskey Lounge, which has a copper ceiling, to have a drink. There are tours of the hotel available. The Stanley Hotel is accessed off of U.S. Highway 34 North of Downtown Estes Park.
Enos Mills Cabin Museum
Enos Mills is the primary person responsible for the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915. The Enos Mills cabin was originally built in 1885. The Museum is operated by Elizabeth and Eryn Mills. The Museum is open year-round by appointment. They can be contacted by phone at 970-586-4706 or by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Enos Mills Cabin is located South of Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7 past the Lilly Lake and Twin Sisters Parking Area.
Eagle Plume’s Trading Post
Established in 1917, this historic trading post specializes in arts and crafts of the American Indian. Contemporary works in jewelry, textiles, basketry, ceramics, sculpture and beadwork, as well as historic pieces are available. Also housed at the trading post is the Charles Eagle Plume Collection of Native American Indian Art, comprising over 1,000 historic and prehistoric pieces from Native North America, Alaska and Canada. We took our children there to meet Charles Eagle Plume and he would enchant both children and adults with his tall tales and corny jokes during the summer season. He would always give each child a feather to remember their visit to the trading post. The trading post is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The trading post is located South of Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7 past the Lilly Lake and Twin Sisters Parking Area just across the county line in Boulder County before you get to Meeker Park.
Dick’s Rock Museum and Red Rose Rock Shop
Dick’s Rock Museum and the Red Rose Rock Shop is open daily from 8:00am to 8:00pm and is located on U.S. Highway 36 at 490 Moraine Avenue in Estes Park. Dick’s Rock Museum is a historical landmark that is free of charge to visit. The museum contains many rare and unusual geological rock formations. If you are into geology, Dick’s Rock Museum is a must-see attraction. The Red Rose Rock Shop offers a wide variety of rocks, minerals, fossils, jewelry, gifts and décor.