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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Mule Deer, Elk, and Moose are three of the most popular types of wildlife you’ll see here in Estes Park. All are a part of the ‘deer’ family, with Moose being the largest.
Mule deer are named for their large ears which are similar to those of a mule. There are currently several hundred mule deer living in Rocky Mountain National Park! Roughly 70% of their nutrients are gotten from the shrubs and greenery found in the open meadows of the park.
North American Elk, or wapiti, are one of the main attractions here in Estes Park. They can grow anywhere from 6.5-8.5 ft. long, 4-5 ft. tall, and 400-1100 lbs, much larger than their mule deer cousins. The current population of Estes Park sits around 3,200 during the summer and 600-800 during the winter. Most elk around the park can live anywhere from 10-13 years.
Moose, typically standing at 6 ft. hoof to shoulder and can be as tall as 10 ft. when their head is lifted. There are currently around 2,500 moose in the state of Colorado. Surprisingly enough, moose are actually incredible swimmers, diving to the bottom of larger bodies of water to feed on the lush grasses that populate the bottom. This helps to explain how one of their predators happens to be Orcas. No need to worry about seeing any of those in the park though.
As with all wild animals, be sure not to approach any of these magnificent creatures should you see them on the trail or off on the side of the road. They are unpredictable and most frequently seen during the rutting or birthing seasons and can be incredibly defensive and aggressive during those times. Be safe and enjoy your time getting to see and learn more about all the local wildlife Estes Park has to offer.
Here at Castle Mountain Lodge, we are incredibly lucky to have such a diverse and multi-talented staff. Our Outdoor Project Manager, Nathan Wood, is one of those amazing people. And he’s now offering outdoor photography workshops!
Nathan Wood is a passionate landscape photographer who has spent the past two years exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. You can often find Nathan in the early mornings hiking through the dark to reach a distant lake or remote peak for sunrise. Through many years of trial and error, Nathan is excited to share what he has learned and will provide tips and tricks to gain the best images possible given any situation. Nathan has over 10 years of photography experience and 5 as a professional. You can check out more of his work and the types of views you could be capturing on his website: https://www.nathanwoodphotography.com/workshops
Capture the night sky, sunrise, or gorgeous waterfalls with Nathan against the vast landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park in one of his three photography workshop options. Each private workshop starts at $149 and can be personalized to fit your needs. If you’re curious and want to learn more, feel free to contact Nathan with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since December 22 Rocky Mountain National Park has greatly limited access due to the government shutdown and inclement weather. Technically, RMNP has remained fully open with limited service and maintenance. What has this meant? Well, to the local and tourist alike, it means that roads were barricaded due to not being plowed. This was for the safety of visitors, which is understandable. While the roads were ‘closed’ they were still open to foot and bike traffic, and all trails remained officially open if you could get to them. It also meant that visitor centers were closed, entrance stations were unmanned, and bathroom and trash services were non-operational.
A big step has now been taken in light of the current shutdown and Rocky Mountain National Park has restored access and resumed basic visitor services. With vague government verbiage, we were a bit unclear as to what this meant until Kyle Patterson, Management Specialist and Public Affairs Officer for RMNP, sent out the following email:
“Rocky Mountain National Park Restores Accessibility And Resumes Basic Visitor Services
Park restores access to recently closed areas after cleanup/maintenance operations
Rocky Mountain National Park announced today that areas that have been closed due to the inability to plow and maintain roads, will once again be accessible to visitors. On Saturday, January 12, a limited number of park staff began snowplowing US 36 past the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and US 34 past the Fall River Entrance. This morning, US Highways 36 and 34 were reopened to Deer Ridge Junction. Trail Ridge Road beyond Deer Ridge Junction to Many Parks Curve has also reopened. US Highway 34 on the west side is now open to the Colorado River Trailhead. Snowplows are working today on Bear Lake Road and it is anticipated that it will reopen sometime tomorrow.
Also this past Saturday, a limited number of custodians began cleaning toilet facilities and trash receptacles. Some basic visitor services, including entrance stations and two out of five loops at the Moraine Park Campground, will also reopen later this week. Entrance stations will be open to provide safety and basic information to visitors, but entrance fees will not be collected.
These basic services are being funded with revenue generated by recreation fees. National Park Service officials have determined that by using Federal Land and Recreation Enhancement funds to bring back limited park maintenance staff to plow roads, clean restrooms, and remove trash, the park can restore accessibility to the park for visitors.
Outdoor areas of the park remain accessible. Most facilities, including Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on the east side and Kawuneeche Visitor Center on the west side will remain closed. “We greatly appreciate Rocky Mountain Conservancy’s efforts to staff the Fall River Visitor Center during the lapse in appropriations,” said park superintendent Darla Sidles. Fall River Visitor Center is located outside of the park near the Fall River Entrance.
While basic visitor services have been restored, other services will be limited or unavailable during the lapse in appropriations, including visitor centers, ranger talks and programs. Visitors are reminded that all rules and regulations apply. Visitors should visit the park website at nps.gov/romo while planning their visit to get the latest information on accessibility and available services.”
What wonderful news for all of us who hold RMNP so near and dear to our hearts! This morning, I got up and took a drive through the Fall River Entrance, just minutes from Castle Mountain Lodge and McGregor Mountain Lodge, and experienced a beautifully peaceful morning in one of my favorite places on earth! It was so good to see visitors enjoying the wildlife, the grand vistas, and to see cars parked at the trail heads.
Now that the park is easily accessible once again, but given that services will be limited and what services are available will be spread thin, we need to be more mindful of how we behave and treat this special corner of the Rockies. For the most part, visitors treated RMNP very well over the past three weeks. Clean up efforts over the weekend found the park to be spotless and pristine, which made us all breathe a sigh of relief. Now that more folks can get into the deeper nooks and crannies with relative ease, we need to step it up once again.
A couple of park rules to be especially mindful of: 1. Do not approach wildlife. Take your pics from a distance and give the wild creatures plenty of space. 2. Dogs/Pets are only allowed on roads and in parking areas. Never on any trails for any reason.
And to cover most every other potential issue or problem, freshen up on the Leave No Trace principles. To read more about putting these very important principles into actions, visit their website at www.LNT.org.
It’s time to hit the trails and get back to exploring this wild and untamed landscape we hold so dear.