Estes Park has a hidden gem right outside the back door of downtown main street - the Riverwalk. Driving through Estes Park on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park, you don't see this beautiful river park meandering placidly through the middle of town, but it is definitely not to be missed. The two rivers that run through the Estes Park valley (Fall River and Big Thompson River) merge in downtown Estes Park and are the stars of Riverwalk. Water themed sculptures, rock-lined water features, viewing benches, grassy areas, outdoor cafes, gazebos, bridges, rock walkways, and great people watching await you. Take a stroll, enjoy the sunshine adn the soothing sounds of the river rushing by. From Performance Park at the west end, through downtown to Lake Estes at the east end makes a great, easy walk. You can shop (or not), visit galleries, stop to let the kids play at the playground, grab a snack on an outside deck, or just sit on a bench, relax, and enjoy the mountain air.
Each fall the aspen slowly show the signs of a new winter approaching. The colors: yellow, orange, and red (although this is rare!) paint the hillsides of Rocky Mountain National Park. The brilliant color may quickly fade, but it marches down the mountain side well into mid-October.
Beyond their dramatic color, aspen play an important role in the ecosystem as food for elk, deer, beavers, and a number of other rodents living under and around their distinctive white trunks. When you see a grove of aspen, it's likely you are actually looking at just one tree with many trunks connected by the root system. Native peoples would sometimes rub the inner bark to use as a form of sun screen. Aspen bark also contains the active ingredient for aspirin, so native peoples and fur trappers collected beaver castor glands which concentrated the chemicals in the aspen bark to be used in teas to reduce fever and headache.
RMNP's aspen have been heavily over-grazed by elk in the past, so many of the lower groves are now protected by fences. Thankfully, with the exclusion fences in place we will enjoy the yearly show of gold for centuries to come. For a great October experience, find a grove that's in full color and take a stroll! You might emerge feeling just a bit richer....
Guest blogger Jared Gricoskie from Yellow Wood Guiding. To book a tour visit http://www.ywguiding.com/ or call 303-775-5484.
Spend a fall weekend in the mountains to experience nature's impressive display. To find a cozy cabin in the woods, a luxury suite, or a simple spot to rest your head after a day of hiking don't forget to visit http://www.estes-park.com/, the original online visitor's guide to Estes Park.