Highway 34 Traffic Jam in the Big Thompson Canyon

NoCo Daily Photo_Rams on Highway 34Rams on Highway 34The shoulder season is still a great time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.  Elk are abundant throughout Estes Park and the lower meadows of RMNP.  If you look closely on the drive up Highway 34 from Loveland you are bound to spot some of the bighorn sheep grazing along the side of the road…or in the middle of the highway.  This is just a typical Colorado traffic jam on Highway 34.

Another reason I love living in Northern Colorado!


Buying a Vacation Home in Estes Park, CO

Creekside CourtFor several years my wife and I have owned a vacation home in Estes Park, CO.  This mountain town is considered the gateway into Rocky Mountain National Park.  With an elevation of approximately 7,522 ft, the town of Estes Park is known for its panoramic Rocky Mountain views, world famous elk and wildlife, and outdoor activities (fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, rock climbing to name a few).

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) was established on January 26, 1915.  This year (2015) marks the centennial of  the grand opening.  Despite the flooding in September 2013 that destroyed real estate, roads, trails, and other infrastructure throughout the area, Estes Park still remains a popular tourist destination and RMNP anticipates millions of visitors this year.


Here are a few things you need to know when you consider buying a vacation home in Estes Park:

  1. Location, location, location.  Yes, it’s cliche, but if you are planning to rent your home you will need to know which areas and homeowner’s associations in town have rental restrictions.
  2. Insurance.  I bring this up because depending on where you decide to buy a home, your insurance premium may play a significant role in your monthly payments.  Insurance carriers are more cautious since the High Park and Woodland Heights fires that burned thousands of acres and homes in 2011, and homes could be zoned into high risk flood plains since the flooding in 2013.
  3. Property Management.  Consider a local property management company to assist you in renting your mountain home or cabin.  Sure, if you want the full-time headache of booking reservations, managing security deposits, delegating house-cleaning, and taking maintenance calls, you could do it yourself.  I would rather pay a reputable management company to do all of that for me.
  4. Utilities.  Did you know that many of the cabins and homes in the High Drive area of Estes Park operate on seasonal water supply?  Wells and septic systems are also common in the mountains.  Are you prepared to maintain them?
  5. Construction.  If RMNP has been open for 100 years, chances are there are cabins and real estate that is nearly 100 years old as well.  The quality of construction has obviously improved in the last 100 years, and energy-efficiency has become more important to homeowners.  Consider the natural elements and weather in Estes Park (wind, rain, snow, sub-zero temperatures, sun exposure).  Is the construction of the home up to par?

These are just a few considerations, but obviously you will have many more questions once you begin your home search.  If you’d like discuss buying a second home or vacation home in Estes Park, or if you have questions about moving to Northern Colorado, give me a call or send me a message.   Click here to search for homes for sale in Estes Park, CO.

Hike to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake from Bear Lake Trailhead

Emerald Lake TrailBear LakeNymph LakeDream LakeEmerald LakeSpring is in the air and it’s a great time to drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park for some hiking and photography.  Despite the continuous road construction and delays on Highway 34 up the Big Thompson Canyon, the drive only took me about an hour from Loveland, CO to the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station.  It’s always nice to avoid some of the weekend traffic and venture into RMNP on a weekday.  Today was no different.

So I have several hikes to cross off of my bucket list, and I know that hiking to Emerald Lake is a short trek, but until today I still hadn’t crossed this one of my list.  From the Bear Lake Trailhead the hike to Emerald Lake is just under two miles; however, the entire trail is still covered in snow which makes for a bit more strenuous hike.  I had my trekking poles and Microspikes, which helped, but I encountered some other people with cross-country skis and snowshoes.  Either way just make sure you’re prepared with some of the basic essentials: water, warm layers, sunglasses, insulated boots, and of course, your camera.

Bear Lake is only a few steps from the trailhead.  Today it was still covered with snow and thin ice.

I continued on the trail and reached Nymph Lake, which was also covered in snow but already had tracks leading across it, so I assumed it was safe to traverse over the lake.  So on I went.

The next highlight of my hike was when I saw Dream Lake and the views of Hallett Peak and Tyndall Glacier in the distance.

And finally I reached Emerald Lake, which as you can imagine, was also covered with snow.  Across the lake I had a perfect view of Tyndall Glacier, and this made a great place for me to have lunch and enjoy the scenery.

Even with the snow-packed conditions the roundtrip only took a couple hours.  In the summer months I know my kids would have no problem hiking this trail.

Enjoy the pictures and take advantage of the park.  It’s only an hour from your NoCo backyard!