Tag: travel

Black Bears in Estes Park

bears in estes park

Bears! Rocky Mountain National Park is home for anywhere between 20-30 black bears, with Grizzlies no longer existing in Colorado. And while they are sparse, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself and the bears safe on your next visit to Castle Mountain Lodge and the Rocky Mountains.

Black bears generally keep to themselves but if you happen to see one, do not approach. Stand where you are, make yourself look tall, and make a lot of noise. They should run away almost immediately as they prefer not to interact with people or make a big fuss of things.

Bears have also figured out how to use door handles on vehicles and other doors without knobs, so be sure to clear out your car of any smelly foods or items and lock your doors at night. As soon as the bear realizes it can’t open the door, it will leave you and your stuff alone.

While bears may seem intimidating, they are, in fact, incredibly timid. If you are not bothering them then they won’t bother you. Stay safe and respectful of the wildlife while you visit and ensure a harmonious visit for everyone by doing the research on local wildlife necessary before you travel.

You can read up more on Black Bears and what you can do to keep yourself and them safe here on the National Park Service’s webpage.

And you can read up more on the wildlife we see at the lodges here on our website.

New Frisbee Golf Course

Frisbee golf is the latest international sports craze. Here at the lodges, we want to provide our guests with the best and most diverse experience possible, which is why we’re now putting in our very own Frisbee golf course on the mountain behind Castle Mountain Lodge. This project is projected to be completed by mid-late September, led by our very own Outdoor Project Manager and Frisbee Golf Enthusiast, Nathan Wood.

While we want everyone to have the best time possible on our course, we also want everyone to have the safest time possible and continue that established comfort we offer to all of our guests. In order to do so, we’ve established some extra rules of play which you can read up on below:

More information on the official rules of Frisbee Golf can be found here on the official PDGA rules page: https://www.pdga.com/rules

This 18 hole course stretches for 1 ½ – 2 miles along our Old Man Mountain trail back behind Castle Mountain Lodge. It hosts beautiful views all around, though it is not for the faint of heart. Being on the side of a mountain means there are steep slopes and rocky terrain throughout. The entire course has an established path throughout to help with the ascent and descent, but it is good to keep in mind that it is not a golf course. Hiking boots or rough wear shoes are suggested.

Guests staying at Castle Mountain Lodge are free to use the course between the hours of 8:00am and 9:00pm, or dark, whichever comes first! Sorry, but our frisbee golf course is only available for use by paying guests of Castle Mountain Lodge at this time. For more instructions and information, please visit or call our front desk between the hours of 8:00am and 9:00pm (970) 586-3664. We hope to see you out there!

Staff Picks

A water wheel sits behind a bridge under an archway of trees in Downtown Estes Park

Here at Castle Mountain Lodge, we are all about providing you with the best experience possible, so we’ve created a list of staff picks for favorite activities, restaurants, and shops you can find all around Estes Park! While this is no where near a comprehensive list, these 3 places are what first come to mind when we think about: “What makes Downtown Estes Park great?”

The first place that comes to mind for most of our staff here is Inkwell and Brew – an adorable coffee shop located in the heart of Downtown Estes Park. Stop in for a quick drink and bite or to browse their extensive journal and pen collection for sale. This is a local’s favorite you won’t want to miss.

A stand alone coffee shop with a peaked roof and wood paneling down the sides

The second place that comes to mind for a fun time while visiting is the Cascade Creek mini golf course! Our Outdoor Project Manager, Nathan Wood, is an avid mini golfer who took on the grueling task of trying out all the mini golf courses Estes Park has to offer. He says that: “Hands down, Cascade Creek is the best in town.” You can find it right at the Highway 34 entrance into town.

A small building sits in front of a man made waterfall, marking the entrance to a popular mini golf course

Our third and final place for this staff picks blog post is Trendz at the Park. Trendz is host to some of the cutest little trinkets and decorative items Estes Park has to offer. Whether it be bees or books or goofy one liners, Trendz is full of them and a must visit on your next stop in Downtown Estes Park.

A corner store stands out against a mountainous background in downtown Estes Park

During your next stay here with us at Castle Mountain Lodge, don’t forget to try out some of these staff favorites, and let us know some of your own! Maybe you’ll see them listed on our next ‘Staff Picks’ blog post!

Continue to follow along for more staff picks in the future!

Spring on Twin Sisters Mountain

Longs Peak from the summit of Twin Sisters
Longs Peak from the summit of Twin Sisters
Longs Peak from the summit! What a view!

As the days get longer and the sun warms up our mountain landscape we all eagerly await the snow to disappear and the hiking trails to open up without the need for traction or floatation. One of the first high places to melt out is always the Twin Sisters trail that leads to the summit of Twin Sisters Mountain which stands at a respectable 11,427 feet, so this mountain always seems to get a lot of early season traffic.

The trail is easy to follow and very well maintained. Though the round trip is now only 6.6 miles, more on that later, it’s relatively steep with the total elevation gain hitting 2,363 feet.

Views from the trail
Views from the trail.

When I got up on the morning of June 10th, the thermometer ready a chilly 29 degrees F. I was a bit surprised, but the sun was out so I figured it would warm up quickly. I threw an extra layer on and drove up to the trail head and quickly hit the trail. At five to seven there were just three other cars at the trail head. This trail doesn’t ease you into anything and starts off at a pretty steep grade right away. For the most part, the trail is pretty uneventful, rising up through dense forest with the exception of a spot or two with some views over the Tahosa Valley below. At about one and a quarter mile up you reach the site of the huge landslide that happened during the flood event of September, 2013. It’s a pretty impressive sight and it wiped our quite a bit of the trail. Hikers made social trail of sorts in the following year and, only in the past year, the park service reestablished a trail through the area. It’s much shorter and much steeper than the old trail, hence the ‘now only 6.6 miles’ comment above. I think it shaved off a quarter of a mile, or a bit more, on the one-way distance.

Twin Sisters land slide
The 2013 landslide

Before too long you near tree line and wind through some stunning outcroppings with magnificent views to the north overlooking Estes Park and some of the northern mountains in the National Park (Mummy Range). Tree line ends abruptly and the views of the forthcoming summit push are always reason to stop and snap a quick photo.

This stretch always goes by quick, but seems to take longer than you’d expect when you first set eyes on it. But soon you’ll pop out on the little summit plateau with two main ‘summits’ before you. Most people head up the slightly closer, and lower, summit on your right while the true summit is the big block on your left. Pick your way across tundra (look for a variety of tundra flowers on this stretch) and a short, steep boulder field which will pop you out right on the summit. Turn to your right (west) and try not to let your jaw hit the rocky summit as the views are absurd!

Take your time up there, weather permitting, and make you way back down the way you came.

Hike Info:
Distance: 6.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,363 Feet
Summit Elevation: 11,427 Feet
Trail Head Elevation: 9,206 Feet

Twin Sisters Elevation Profile
Twin Sisters Elevation Profile

For more info, be sure to check out Erik Stensland’s hiking guide: Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park. The Essential Guide. (Purchase on Amazon)