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Smithsonian declares Estes Park #1 small town to visit

The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel (Image: Richard T. Nowitz/Corbis)

By now most of my readers must be convinced that I’m a paid shill for Rocky Mountain National Park and the gateway town of Estes Park. I assure you I am not. It’s just that I’ve spent most of my vacations (since the late 1940s) in those areas and love them more than anyplace else I’ve ever visited. (And judging from their persistence in the PT Bestsellers list, so do a lot of other people.)

That said, I’ve got to brag. Again. The Smithsonian is probably one of the most highly respected organizations in the country, and a few days ago they named Estes Park the #1 Best Small Town to visit this year. Their article tends to focus on the historic Stanley Hotel, which I’ve only visited once or twice in all these years; for me the mountains and wildlife are the big draw. Likely the Smithsonian was attracted by the fact that this is RMNP’s Centennial year. And currently the Stanley is adding a giant hedge maze on its front lawn. Should make a nice tourist attraction, but personally I’d rather have an unobstructed view. They also mention elk wandering through town but that only happens in late fall and winter.


With views like this from the Stanley, who needs a maze? (Image: Jessica Mack)

With views like this from the Stanley, who needs a maze? (Image: Jessica Mack)


Entering Estes Park, ColoradoEntering Estes Park, Colorado

Entering Estes Park, Colorado



  1. As of Oct 2018–visited the Stanley and toured about, got cocktails at the bar, checked out the ground floor museum area——and heard/saw nothing about a maze. Perhaps it’s a secret? Didn’t work out?

    • It’s a hedge maze, outside on the south side of the hotel.

      At least, I can confirm it opened in 2015. It’s possible it was torn out sometime after that, but I can’t confirm it one way or the other. You’ve got me wondering now, since the original link no longer works.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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