Tell Me About Estes Park Colorado---Trip Completed---Wrap Up

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AJGUNNER

Hunter
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Jan 15, 2007
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The Sticks---N.W. Orygun
I will be over to Denver in a couple of weeks and hope to have a free day. Can anyone tell me if the drive up is worth it to see some country and some big bulls. Wondering how long to expect the drive from Loveland over should take, and how long from Estes back down to Denver??? Both roads look pretty curvy----what about passes---how high can I expect to get??? Anything else I should not miss out on??? Good lunch place???

The trip wrap up.

My mom moved from Oregon To Denver last week and due to the expense, I volunteered to drive her car over, as long as she flew. There was no way I was going to spend 1200+ miles in the car with mom. :lol:

We got out of Portland about 5:30am on Saturday morning and headed East. I had checked out the fuel prices on this web site http://www.gasbuddy.com/GasPriceMap and strategically figured out where to fill up to avoid the places that are 20 to 50 cents higher. This also made for perfect stops to go potty along the way. We made it to Twin Falls early with no problems in about 9 hours. The cruise control was set at 73 in Oregon and 83 in Idaho. I showed my travel buddy the water falls (just a trickle this time of year), then we checked out Evil Knievel’s dirt ramp from when he attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in 1976. They are just starting a new housing development nearby and there is talk of dozing it. So we got to see and walk on a piece of history that may soon be lost forever. We met up for a nice dinner with one of my former customers then hit the sack.

Sunday we were on the road at 7am. Saw a few elk and antelope along the way towards Wyoming. After fueling in Evanston we hit the longest most boring drive I will probably never see again. :lol: Literally not much to see for 350 miles between Evanston and Laramie. The only good part is that you sure can cover the miles at 83+mph. :D For a Sunday we expected some traffic but were surprised at the huge amount of truck traffic---thousands of trucks on this major East-West piece of pavement. We decided to cut South at Laramie instead of Cheyenne just to see something besides the highway. Even though this is only 2 lane and posted 65mph, it was a nice break from the interstate. This also worked out for fuel with us squeaking into Fort Collins on fumes all the way from Evanston. Looking at the receipts, this stretch was the longest without a stop at 370 miles and right at 5 hours, making this about an 9 hour day once we hit the hotel.

Monday we headed from Fort Collins up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw a few bighorn sheep on the way up and a nice big bull elk and a few cows in town. Just before we hit the park we spotted a huge urban bull and turned around for a few up close (20 feet) pictures. Once inside the park we spotted deer and elk all over, but no really big bulls or big herds like we were expecting. Most of the places (lodges and restrooms) had closed for the season on Sunday, so we decided to just hit a few of the loop drives. We topped out at over 12,000 feet with snow sticking and coming down hard. Glad we had passed on the 11 mile one way gravel route that would have taken us a bit higher. We missed seeing a really nice bull moose by about 2 minutes. We had pulled into a roadside stop to get a closer look at a cow and calf elk, and some people there taking pictures showed us on their camera what we had just missed. We tried hiking down the trail that he had left on, but we turned back after about 10 minutes figuring he had left the trail and ducked into the timber.

Back in the town of Estes Park we asked around trying to find all the elk. We were told to check both golf courses and the school. When we found the school we did a double take. :shock: Laying in the grass 10 feet off the pavement was a really nice 6x6 bull. About 50 yards up the road (school parking entrance) was a herd of about 35-45 cows and calves bedded down with a monster big bull laying right in the middle of them. We went up the road another 50 yards and found a couple more rag horn bulls and a couple of spikes also just bedding down for the day. As we rounded a corner almost to the parking lot, there was another 6x6 bull laying right in the middle of the road. I drove on by him and could have grabbed his antlers out the window as I went by. We turned around and drove back by so my buddy could get the close up view---we were so close he could not get the entire body and antlers in a picture.

There were no elk on the 9 hole golf course, so we headed for the 18 hole course. When we pulled in there were a group teeing off so we asked them where all the elk were. They said we were an hour or 2 early because they usually showed up around 3-4pm. As we pulled out of the golf course right across the street there was about 5 big bulls sparring about 75 yards out in a field. I was turning right but as I looked to the left there is a huge herd crossing the road about 50 yards from us. Traffic came to a standstill as a bunch of cows and calves crossed the road. When there was a break we decided to turn left and see if we could catch a better view of them. After turning left then making a u-turn elk just kept coming across until a big bull showed up and stood in the middle of the road. We were first in line to stop, and got to watch this big boy bugling back and forth with the other bulls with cows and calves wandering on both sides of the road. Needless to say we had found the town herds and also managed to get up close and personal. I shot a bunch of video and hopefully I can figure out how to post some once I get around to it.

We headed down the Boulder canyon that must have had an amazing huge run off this past spring because there was lots of property damage along the way. We made a quick stop at the Coors plant to sample a few beers and buy a t-shirt before heading into Denver traffic. We got to moms new place and unloaded all the stuff that could not go in the moving van. Tuesday we were up at 5:30 for an early flight home All in all a pretty quick trip with no problems and we got to see some awesome scenery (not including most of southern Wyoming) and wildlife.

The stats:
1550 miles
Average fuel price $2.22
Fuel cost $157
Total cost including fuel, 2 hotel nights, meals, and flights home---$683

The prices I was quoted for having the car shipped, ranged from $750 to $1125
 

gw425

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 2, 2010
Messages
275
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Nebraska
Loveland to Estes Park takes approx 45 minutes depending on traffic. Beautiful drive. Very curvy road around Big Thompson Cayon. You may see Elk all over the place in Estes, especially around the golf course. You can head into Rocky Mountain National Park and take a scenic drive loop thru and undoubtedly see Elk. Estes to Denver takes about 1.5 hours. Not sure exactly how high in elevation you can get this time of year--they are starting to close the roads for winter. You can probably get up to around 10k tho. Trail Ridge Road ends up at 12k +. You can check with the park on a daily basis for road info. Great place to eat downtown is Mama Rose's Italian restaurant. Right off of Elkhorn Avenue (main drag thru downtown). As you head thru Estes to the West on Elkhorn there is also the Wapiti Restaurant and bar. Lots of different beers on tap. If you like bbq, there is Smokin Daves and Big Horn. Enjoy, as this is a pretty time of year up there.

Greg
 

Bull Barrel

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Feb 22, 2008
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The Liberal held left bank of the Mississippi Rive
AJGUNNER said:
I will be over to Denver in a couple of weeks and hope to have a free day. Can anyone tell me if the drive up is worth it to see some country and some big bulls. Wondering how long to expect the drive from Loveland over should take, and how long from Estes back down to Denver??? Both roads look pretty curvy----what about passes---how high can I expect to get??? Anything else I should not miss out on??? Good lunch place???


How high can you expect to get? How much ya wanna spend? It is Colorado...
 

cas6969

Buckeye
Joined
Oct 11, 1999
Messages
1,215
Very beautiful, worth the ride IMO. The drive through RMNP as well for sure. I didn't spend a lot of time there, but it's still a vivid memory 15+ years later.
 

Viking Queen

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Joined
Apr 29, 2011
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Northern Colorado
gw425 said:
Loveland to Estes Park takes approx 45 minutes depending on traffic. Beautiful drive. Very curvy road around Big Thompson Cayon. You may see Elk all over the place in Estes, especially around the golf course. You can head into Rocky Mountain National Park and take a scenic drive loop thru and undoubtedly see Elk. Estes to Denver takes about 1.5 hours. Not sure exactly how high in elevation you can get this time of year--they are starting to close the roads for winter. You can probably get up to around 10k tho. Trail Ridge Road ends up at 12k +. You can check with the park on a daily basis for road info. Great place to eat downtown is Mama Rose's Italian restaurant. Right off of Elkhorn Avenue (main drag thru downtown). As you head thru Estes to the West on Elkhorn there is also the Wapiti Restaurant and bar. Lots of different beers on tap. If you like bbq, there is Smokin Daves and Big Horn. Enjoy, as this is a pretty time of year up there.

Greg

Yup, what he said. I live in Ft. Collins, about 45 min from Estes Park. It is a beautiful place to visit. Nice day trip. If you do spot Elk in town or on the Golf course be sure to keep your distance. I have seen some very scary close encounters and there were too Elk attacks of tourists this week. One guy on foot, too close taking pictures, got tossed and stomped and another was a vehicle which was too close and was attacked. RMNP is one of my favorite places to visit. I am headed up there in a couple of days to play tourist for the day. The road up to Estes Park fromLoveland is curvy but not all that intimidating ....it's an easy drive. Enjoy your time in Colorado.

Viking Queen
 

AJGUNNER

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Enjoy your time in Colorado. Viking Queen[/quote said:
Delivering a car from the Portland area to Denver---1150 miles, then flying home the next day. Decided to throw in 1 extra day just in case something goes sideways along the way. If all goes well, I'll head over from Loveland for a day on the way in. Looking forward to it.

Do I actually want to pay to get into the park or is there plenty of bulls to see outside??? If all goes well I should be there around lunch time mid week. I have heard all the real good rutting action goes on in the evening---is it worth staying late in the day for it???
 

Diamondtreo

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Apr 7, 2011
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Lake Stevens, WA
Don't miss the Stanley Hotel, where you can lay in bed & watch "The Shining" all the while in the very building that inspired Stephen King to create his tome. The Wapiti pub serves an incredible stew made with Bison, Elk & Wild Boar. Lots of elk wandering throughout the town this time of year too.
 

roarindan51

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12944(thats Upstate)
We visited our son in Longmont ,couple yrs. back, and he took us for a drive thru Estes Park. The Colorado Visitors Center was very helpful in that they had what appeared to be a Elks Union (local #2207) preforming troop right alongside the road complete with a trumpeting bull a large harem of cows and a satellite bull that the herd bull would chase off a short distance. they even had humans accompanying them to make sure I moved my car from the spot the Elk were walking!!
 

Pat-inCO

Hawkeye
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Oct 17, 2009
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In the AZ oven (Phoenix basin)
AJGUNNER said:
Enjoy your time in Colorado.
Viking Queen
Do I actually want to pay to get into the park or is there plenty of bulls to see outside??? If all goes well I should be there around lunch time mid week. I have heard all the real good rutting action goes on in the evening---is it worth staying late in the day for it?
If you go past the Stanley Hotel (West [up hill] end) there is quite a bit of
open land that the elk frequent. It's a whopping five minute drive, so if for
some reason they are not there, you just turn around and head toward the
park.

Are you old enough (62 I think) to get a national parks pass? I got mine for
$10 and it is good at all national parks (free access with it and it's life time).
If not, I think I would pass on the park for only an hour or two.

When my daughter and her crew came in the first time we spent the day
and would have liked more time in the park.

Altitude: Just over 7,700 feet above sea level . . . . in town. If you head up
into the park it goes to almost 11,000 (a few mountain peaks at 14,000+).
As long as you do not do any appreciable hiking, it will probably not be an
issue.

Snow is not likely . . . this year . . . for several more weeks.
 

AJGUNNER

Hunter
Joined
Jan 15, 2007
Messages
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Location
The Sticks---N.W. Orygun
Pat-inCO said:
Snow is not likely . . . this year . . . for several more weeks.

I'll be watching this pretty close---planning to be there sometime during the week of the 19th.

Not old enough for a "Grey Beard" discount yet, although what I have left of hair is all grey/white.
 

whichwatch

Blackhawk
Joined
Dec 18, 2012
Messages
678
Estes should be pretty much tourist free this time of year, nothing like peak season anyway. We try to get there at least once a year.
Pay the few dollars for a day pass into the park, it's beautiful. We were out a couple of years ago for the "Elk Fest" festival, lots of vendors in the park by the library. Plenty of elk just wandering the streets then too. Have seen black bear in the park one time.
 

BearBio

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Oct 22, 2009
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Eastern Washington
whichwatch said:
Estes should be pretty much tourist free this time of year, nothing like peak season anyway. We try to get there at least once a year.
Pay the few dollars for a day pass into the park, it's beautiful. We were out a couple of years ago for the "Elk Fest" festival, lots of vendors in the park by the library. Plenty of elk just wandering the streets then too. Have seen black bear in the park one time.

Lot's of bighorns by the lake, also. Maybe a moose. Good ice cream shop if I can remember-on a corner away from the center of town. Great Christmas decorations.
 

whichwatch

Blackhawk
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Dec 18, 2012
Messages
678
BearBio said:
whichwatch said:
Estes should be pretty much tourist free this time of year, nothing like peak season anyway. We try to get there at least once a year.
Pay the few dollars for a day pass into the park, it's beautiful. We were out a couple of years ago for the "Elk Fest" festival, lots of vendors in the park by the library. Plenty of elk just wandering the streets then too. Have seen black bear in the park one time.

Lot's of bighorns by the lake, also. Maybe a moose. Good ice cream shop if I can remember-on a corner away from the center of town. Great Christmas decorations.

We were at Bear Lake, in the park, and I overheard a woman ask the ranger on duty "What is the best time of year to come out and watch the elk turn into moose"? The ranger did a very good job of keeping a straight face while politely answering the woman's question. This remains a standing joke in our family to this day, and for years to come.
 

altajava

Bearcat
Joined
Jul 26, 2011
Messages
82
Location
Shenandoah Valley
FastEd said:
The other spectacular drive in Colorado is I-70 from downtown Denver, West to Vail, Glenwood Springs, Rifle and on to Grand Junction. The Colorado River flowing down hill is great scenery for miles. Beautiful country.

The last time I drove through Eisenhower tunnel, the weather was great on the east side, not a cloud in sight. Got out on the west side to three inches of snow, could barely see the travel lanes. The drive west of Eagle is stunning, amazing how they cramed a four lane interstate into that canyon, better appreciated in summer.
 

Poco Oso

Buckeye
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
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Central Orygun
I grew up (well kinda) in Colorado in the '60's. Estes Park was a regular "Sunday Drive". ( Remember those?) Beautiful place, clean air, lottsa wildlife, a little look at life as it used to be. Don't miss it! It's "use by" date will soon expire.
 

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