Estes Park Talk

We got to the Stanley Hotel around noon on Sat...

The Stanley Hotel (from Wikipedia)

It occurs to me that some definitions may be in order.  As in a great many places, those who live in Estes Park have their own way of saying things.  Since everyone here, including the elk, came here from somewhere else, we are possibly even more fiercely partisan about our town than people are who have been born in theirs.  So here are a few names and definitions:

Estes — What we call our town when we’re not being formal.  As in, to a summer resident:  “When did you get back to Estes?”

ParkRocky Mountain National Park, for which Estes is one of two primary gateways.  Sample statement:  “Let’s take a drive around the Park.”  Also called “Rocky” or, less often, “RMNP.”  I also call it “my big back yard.”  To see a map, please Google maps and specify “RMNP.”

Around the Park — Does not mean literally “around the Park,” which would be a very long hike.  Instead, it means a paved road of about eight or so miles from the Moraine Park entrance up to Deer Ridge Junction, then back down to the Fall River entrance.  Sometimes, this includes a side journey to Bear Lake.  Takes about a half hour, unless you stop and watch the elk cavort or happen to spy a bighorn sheep.

Locals — People who live for either part of the year or all year in the Estes valley.  Sometimes includes residents of Glen Haven (a small mountain community down a picturesque canyon), but does not include residents of Allenspark (a small mountain community up a very picturesque drive called the Peak to Peak Highway, otherwise known as Highway 7).  (Allenspark residents have a beautiful town and are very proud of it.  Also, by definition they do not live in the Estes valley (see below).)  Also a local restaurant.

Elkjam — Local term for the traffic jam that happens instantaneously whenever a car (all right, its occupants) spies an elk or an elk herd close to the road or crossing the road.  That car stops to take pictures and immediately, as if by magic, at least 25 other cars also stop, often in the road rather than on the verge, to take pictures of the elk doing what they do, which is mostly eat and stop traffic.  Those interested in seeing this (locals get very tired of it, actually, not the elk but the cars) should search for “elkjam” on YouTube.  There is at least one news feature about the phenomenon nearly every year.

Estes valley — What residents call the entire valley enclosed by mountains which encompasses Estes Park, with the continental divide to the West, Lumpy Ridge to the north, and lower mountains leading down to the valley.  As a local, I stake my claim that this is the most beautiful mountain valley on earth.

Valley — Term used by all locals (see above) and other mountain people to refer to the area of the United States between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains.  As in, “I’m going to the valley to shop today.”  (In this case, the speaker actually means Ft. Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Boulder or, less likely, Denver.)

The Stanley — The Stanley  Hotel, built by F.O. Stanley (of Stanley Steamer fame) in the early 20th Century as a resort hotel in NeoColonial style.  In order to build it, Mr. Stanley also had to create a hydroelectric plant, a sewage plant and a sawmill.  He also had to greatly improve the roads up to Estes Park from the valley (see above) so they could be used by his own Stanley Steamers to bring tourists to his hotel.  In doing so, he practically created the modern town of Estes Park and its primary industry, tourism.  The Stanley Hotel was a primary inspiration for Stephen King’s novel “The Shining” and his own television production “The Shining” was shot on location there.  It is most definitely haunted.  A picture of the Stanley is at the top of this post.

Fairgrounds — Actually and precisely, Stanley Park, which contains the arena, quite a few horse barns, and space for tents, booths, and so forth.  This is the venue for many summer activities, including the Rooftop Rodeo, the Hunter-Jumper show, the Scottish-Irish Heritage Festival and others.  Called the “fairgrounds” only by locals (see above), thus confusing all visitors because all the signs say “Stanley Park.”

The Bypass — Another confusing term.  Locals call this road the bypass because it does that, i.e., it bypasses downtown Estes Park.  All the signs, however, say Wonderview Avenue.  Which it also is; i.e., a wondrous view.

Longs — Local term for our tallest and most prominent mountain peak, Long’s Peak, discovered by an Army gentleman named, oddly enough, Long.  Of course, “discovered” is a relative term, since the Arapaho and Shoshoni tribes always knew it was there.  “Longs” is not to be confused with “Pikes”, which is another famous Colorado mountain peak west of Colorado Springs.  Longs, by the way, is several hundred feet higher than Pikes.  Sample statement:  “Are you planning on climbing Longs this year?”  (My answer is an immediate “no, I plan on looking at Longs this year,” as it always is.)  One of my own photos of Longs is published at the bottom of this post.

Elkhorn — Our main street, named (probably) for the Elkhorn Lodge, one of our oldest still-standing structures, a resort, tourist lodge and dude ranch that is now considered one of the six most endangered historical structures in the state of Colorado.  It should be noted that elk actually do not have horns, they have antlers.  Antlers are shed each year, while horns (see bighorn sheep, above) are permanent and grow incrementally each year.

Dunraven — Now primarily an exceedingly good and long-lived Italian (and seafood) restaurant out on Moraine.  However, in the 19th Century, the Earl of Dunraven (yes, a real British (okay, Welsh, I think) belted earl and no, I don’t know why earls would be more belted than, say, barons or even bankers), falling in love (as so many have since) with the Estes valley, decided ownership was the only possible course.  He spent years more or less bribing more or less unsavory types to “homestead,” after which he would buy the homesteaded land.  Theoretically at that time, one was only allowed to homestead 160 (I’m not looking this stuff up, so anybody out there reading this who begs to differ is probably right and I would love to hear the, well, facts) acres of government land, which the Estes valley was considered to be.  He planned on making the place his own private hunting reserve and to this end built a hotel, the first in town, I believe, for his friends.  (He also, with his friends and with the help of other tourists and hunters, killed off all the local elk population.  The big elk herds that have taken over the town now were originally imported in the 20th Century from Wyoming.)  The State of Colorado and the United States Government took issue with his version of “homesteading” and worked in the courts to break up his holdings, finally managing to annoy him enough that he left, never to return.  F.O. Stanley (above) bought quite a bit of his land for the Stanley Hotel.  However, statements that the Earl of Dunraven haunts the third floor are a bit strange, since the Earl left Estes years before the hotel was built.

Long's Peak