Estes Park is one of the cutest towns in all of Colorado and is a great example of how tourism can develop an area. Estes Park survives from tourism. Folks come from all over the world to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park and on their way they pass through Estes Park. The tourism industry has been a way of life for the people of Estes Park since the early 1900s when a road opened from Lyons to Estes Park. A stage coach, then passenger buses, brought visitors into the town who wanted to ski the Rockies, or stay at one of the resorts or lodges in the area.
The Stanley Hotel was one of the first luxury hotels in Estes. It was built in 1909 by Freelan Stanley, owner of the bus company. He wanted a luxury hotel to accompany his transportation line. The hotel catered to upper class Americans interested in enjoyed the natural beauty of the area. The hotel continues to attract hotel guests and those who want to experience the old hotel. The Stanley recently gained fame as the inspiration behind the hotel in the Stephen King novel, The Shining. The hotel was the location for the filming of The Shining movie in 1997. Visitors to Estes should and do visit the hotel. Anyone is welcome in the lobby or on the grounds.
Today the town of Estes Park caters to Rocky Mountain National Park visitors, skiers and those who want to see or hunt Elk. Visitors have the opportunity to go on horseback rides jeep tours, zip lining, and put-put as well as shop, eat and buy cold weather gear at one of the many Estes park stores.
Downtown Estes Park contains many restaurants, ranging from down home to fancy with excellent food. There is shopping ( the typical tourist shops with t-shirts, jewelry, postcards etc) as well as few antique and outdoors stores. The best part about Estes Park is the Estes Park taffy. There is at least 4 different candy stores in downtown that all make homemade taffy.
There are several small grocery stores and gas stations. The mountains are spotted with vacation cottages for rent either by the night or the week. Estes Park is the time of town where you can have fun and relax. You don’t feel bad about being a tourist in Estes Park because the people are so nice about it ( probably because they are relying on your money to make their house payment). The tourist feeling is not over the top however. One could almost feel like a local buying milk in the grocery store or taking a sunset stroll around the lake.
It is this idea of feeling like a local that many tourist towns in Colorado must achieve. Tourist hate to feel like tourists. Visitors don’t want to be looked at strangely or feel unwelcome when they are visiting an area. Even if local residents resent the influx or tourists, or get fed up with their rudeness they must still remain nice, friendly and welcoming to guests. If not the town would lose its appeal, which would result in those involved with the tourist industry losing their homes. After all, would the town of Estes Park be able to survive without all the tourists who come through it headed to the Rockies?