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Just returned from Estes Park/RMNP - an update

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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134 reviews
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Just returned from Estes Park/RMNP - an update

Highway 36 between Lyons and Estes Park is in amazingly good condition. The section near Pinewood Springs and Elk Meadows has some potholes and narrow lanes but other than that, the road is fine. From our home in west Windsor, it took us 90 minutes to get to RMNP and traffic was not heavy during the week or on Saturday. Smokin' Dave's in Lyons has reopened.

There are no issues with most of the roads in and around Estes Park and in RMNP except that Endovalley Road to the Alluvial Fan is closed at the first parking lot. There was some construction currently on highway 7 south of Lily Lake and it was one lane for a short distance.

SEVERE DAMAGE AT RMNP ALLUVIAL FAN

Frankly, I am surprised that RMNP has not closed this area due to the very dangerous conditions. Children under age 10, elderly or anyone with any difficulty walking and maintaining their balance while negotiating rocks and flood debris should avoid the Alluvial Fan area. It is NOT safe. The trails are 98% gone. Horseshoe Falls is 75% gone as the falls area is clogged by mounds of rocks. The foot bridge over Roaring River is gone. Roaring River now flows in a deep narrow channel following a route near where the walking trail used to be from the second parking lot. The river washed away the road past the bridge. The old river channel (where everyone waded and played in the water) no longer exists. It is completely covered by sand, dirt, rocks and boulders. Part of the second parking lot is buried under feet of sand, dirt and rock. You can get to Endovalley Road by walking south of the Alluvial Fan where the flood debris flattens out some and by crossing the river.

Just driving around, RMNP is unchanged. There are several new rock slides in the mountains. When you hike in some areas where streams or rivers flow, you notice changes. RMNP now has BEACHES. As the flood waters rushed through, immense deposits of sand were often left behind similar to sand bars along rivers. This was very evident in the basin area off the trail from Sprague Lake up to the Glacier Basin Trailhead. Not to worry, Sprague Lake looks the same as does Bear Lake and the popular lakes from the Bear Lake trailhead. It is very important to know what trail damage you might encounter so check with the RMNP rangers or at least look at the trail condition reports on the nps site. Rangers have posted warnings about missing bridges and other hazardous conditions on the trailhead information boards. Let me emphasize that most of RMNP looks just like it did before the flood. New visitors will probably notice nothing unusual except the Alluvial Fan which of course was created by a flood from a dam break to begin with.

Estes Park looks great! There are only a few businesses that have not yet reopened due to flood damage - Kind Coffee, Ed's Cantina and Poppy's are some. They all hope to reopen soon. With very minor exceptions, it was business as usual in Estes Park.

Along the Fall River corridor, the river has suffered significant damage in places. Bugle Pointe at Estes Park Condos appeared to have the worst river damage and bulldozers and backhoes were already working in that area. The condo units looked fine. The river bank is severely eroded and there was alot of flood debris like rocks and trees in that section of Fall River. In general, damage was worse where there was a bend along the river. There are deposits of sand and rocks along the banks of Fall River that were not there before which is not as aesthetically appealing. Lodging establishments and HOA's will most likely remove these provided they are allowed to do so. Restoring river channels and banks after a flood is a process that requires government approval on several levels.

The Big Thompson River along highway 36/Moraine Avenue and highway 66 suffered very little damage. Sadly, Dorsey Lake at the YMCA no longer exists. It was washed away and then filled in with sediment by the flood waters. Since folks loved to ice skate there and kids loved fishing there in the summer, I have a feeling Dorsey Lake will probably come back larger and improved (government red tape allowing). The sledding hill at the YMCA looked questionable as well. The grounds at Glacier Lodge caught alot of dirt, rocks and sand deposits. Lodging places right along Big Thompson River like Swiftcurrent, Paradise and Rockmount all were fine and the river itself looked much the same as it did before the flood.

Overall, have no fear about traveling to Estes Park and RMNP. Frankly, I was dreading going back and was glad my return was delayed due to family illness. Now, I can't wait to go back and eagerly look forward to the reopening of highway 34 next week!

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Alluvial Fan
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Sprague Lake
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279 Reviews
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Bear Lake
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Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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21,846 posts
55 reviews
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1. Re: Just returned from Estes Park/RMNP - an update

Thanks for the report. I hope to get up there next May.

Greers Ferry...
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62 posts
29 reviews
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2. Re: Just returned from Estes Park/RMNP - an update

Thanks for this update! fv1989 You may or may not recall me seeking your advice a few months ago....We were in Estes Park for only a couple of days when the flooding begin & made it over the mountain/through the park just before they closed it. I've read updates from their FB page but its good to hear an "experts" report!

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Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Worldwide
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3. Re: Just returned from Estes Park/RMNP - an update

Many thanks for this report. Great perspectives there.

florida
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459 posts
288 reviews
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4. Re: Just returned from Estes Park/RMNP - an update

Excellent news. Cannot wait to return 12/5

5. Re: Just returned from Estes Park/RMNP - an update

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