Estes Park is known as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and perhaps even better known for being the birthplace of the American Board of Orthodontics (we shit you not, google that shit right now). The town has access to some of the best mountains in Colorado, and in honor of spooky season, it’s got the Stanley Hotel, which is not only where Stephen King got the idea for The Shining, but also where we had by far the weirdest sexual encounter of our life back in 2017. Here’s Rooster’s guide to killing a weekend in Estes Park.
The Entirety of Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has 415 square miles of awesome terrain, along with 300 miles of trails to make questionable decisions on. Furthermore, the kaleidoscope of changing leaves in the area is almost guaranteed to rival your last DMT trip with shapes and colors your mind can hardly comprehend.
Bear Lake Road and Trail Ridge Road are probably your best bets for nature drives, and the most popular trail in the park is by far the Bear Lake hike, which is a whopping .6 miles long and consists of a gravel walking path. If you want a hike that’s a little harder, consider the Twin Sister Peaks, with the total trail distance coming out to roughly 7.5 miles.
Until Oct. 22, those wanting to enter the park between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. will need either a park access permit or a park access+ permit (yeah, shit names, we know). Fucking bureaucrats, are we right?
World’s Largest Key Collection
Now if you wanted something really novel, we’d tell you to go pet the elk that inhabit the town primarily during rutting season. Please note, this is a joke made in the spirit of comedy. If you attempt to pet an elk, you will likely get gored by gargantuan antlers. It will probably end up on our Instagram story and we will laugh at you for it.
But hey, maybe instead you could check out the Seven Keys Lodge (formerly the Baldpate Inn) which has the world’s largest collection of keys. There are more than 20,000 keys here from all over the world, including keys to Mozart’s wine cellar, European castles and even Adolf Hitler’s bunker, which we didn’t really feel was fair to refer to as a European castle.
The only sad part was that the last time we were there, we looked through all 20,000 keys and still couldn’t find the key to your heart, which was kind of a bummer, but it’s nothing that petting an elk wouldn’t fix.
We won’t beat around the bush on this one. Estes Park has a phenomenal restaurant scene and the entire town is chock full of great food, but we’d be lying to you if we didn’t tell you that our last meal near Estes Park involved a can of Spam and some SpaghettiOs that we warmed up over a fire.
With that being said, throw a rock in Estes Park and chances are you’ll break a window to a delicious restaurant (or a restaurant with delicious food, we don’t mean that the restaurant building itself tastes delicious, obviously). If you could only hit one, though, we’d recommend Nepal’s Cafe. Now, did we swear off eating foods of Asian descent after we had a bad night involving Pad Thai in Ouray four years ago? Sure, but this place is different. Specializing in Nepali, Tibetan and Indian dishes, this place just doesn’t miss, regardless of whether you go with the lamb curry or the chicken korma.
Stanley Hotel (Or Sleep in RMNP for $35 a night)
We can hear you now: “But Rooster, it’s October, and it’s getting cold in Rocky Mountain National Park.” We’re sorry, but we thought you bought that Arcteryx jacket and three Melanzanas to do cool shit in the backcountry, but maybe that Patagonia puffie is more of a status symbol than a reason for you to freeze your ass off for $35 a night. You know what? Fine. Let’s do the Stanley Hotel instead.
The Stanley Hotel was originally owned by Freelan Oscar Stanley, who invented one of the most successful steam-powered cars of all time, the Stanley Steamer. Did you know that a Stanley Steamer was actually a car and not just a carpet cleaning company or weird euphemism that our father uses for pooping? We sure didn’t.
The ghost of Stanley, along with like, a bazillion other ghosts, are often spotted throughout the hotel, sometimes playing the piano, watching over the front desk, or transforming into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man before destroying the city.
Perhaps the most popular room at the Stanley Hotel is room 217, where Stephen King allegedly stayed and later came up with the plot for his best-selling novel The Shining. However, many argue that the fourth floor is where all the spooky action is, complete with the sound of children playing, lights flickering on and off, and even three ghosts that make rich assholes question all of their selfish life decisions anytime Christmas rolls around.