Estes Park is also known as the Estes Park Valley because it is a low area of land between mountains with a river flowing through. Fur trappers were coming to Estes Valley long before the 1850s but did not settle here. Pioneer Joel Estes founded the community in 1859 after moving his family from Missouri.
His short-lived attempt at ranching was unsuccessful, but he left enough of an impact to become the name bearer of our beloved town. Our inviting summers, cooled by snowcapped peaks, created the treasure that is Estes Park. Visitors annually returning to Estes Park, created a solid tourism base. By the turn of the century, rustic mountain lodges sprouted up throughout the valley. Eventually, much of the land became the fourth most visited national park: our beloved Rocky Mountain National Park.
Estes Park history is abundant with colorful characters, from wily wanderers to world-changers. Check out rapscallion Lord Dunraven and bear-ravaged Rocky Mountain Jim, as well as inventor/philanthropist F.O. Stanley. Isabella Byrd, the English lady/mountain adventurer, and Enos Mills were instrumental in founding Rocky Mountain National Park. Explore the rich history of our community at the Estes Park Museum. You’ll find intriguing exhibits illustrating early pioneer life in our rugged mountains. Sift through the books about the greatest contributors to Estes and engage in activities for the entire family.
You will enjoy learning about Colorado mountain ranch life in the late 1800s at McGregor Ranch Museum located at this working cattle ranch. Guided tours take you through the original home with many of the family's personal items, the milk house, the smokehouse and other historic buildings. While there, be sure to take in the mountain vista eye candy that surrounds the ranch, especially Lumpy Ridge.