RMNP needs your help to purchase, protect 40 acres of land

Photo: Rocky Mountain Conservancy

National parks aren’t always born of whole cloth. Their borders on the day they are established may continue to fluctuate and change according to the whims and efforts of special interest groups and individuals.

Rocky Mountain National Park is like that. It was established 100 years ago this year, yet has continued to change as small private, often historic properties caught within the park’s boundaries have been bought and turned to good use by the park. Now, finally, the last remaining piece of commercial property within the park’s boundaries is up for sale, and the park could use your help to secure it. The alternative is grim; a 40-acre plot of land that straddles the road just inside the park’s Fall River Entrance could ultimately be sold off to a private or commercial outfit with no interest at all in preserving the character of the park for future visitors.

At issue are the Cascade Cottages, a group of old structures I’ve barely noticed and had always assumed were already owned by the park service. In fact, the rustic buildings have been available for rent every summer to vacationers. If you look to your left as you enter the park, you’ll see them tucked well back in the trees.

Imagine, though, if that land were sold to commercial interests (it is already zoned commercial). Imagine a great glitzy lodge or inn dominating the view and extending across to the north side of the road to those rocky slopes that are home to so many bighorn sheep. Imagine the parking lots. And the traffic. The entire experience of slipping quietly into the park and on to Horseshoe Park to watch elk and sheep gather would be gone.

The original landowners were wise enough to include a provision that RMNP would get first refusal on buying the land. That provision is now in play. The park has until 2017 to raise a total of $3.6 million to purchase the 40 acres. The Rocky Mountain Conservancy has identified $500,000 from its own resources and has raised almost $1.5 million.

Larimer County Open Lands Program offered a challenge grant of $50,000 to the Estes Valley Land Trust (EVLT) and the Town of Estes Park to provide a collective donation of $100,000 to Rocky Mountain Conservancy for the purchase of the property. EVLT and Estes Park both have readily agreed to match this amount. But they are still short. And the park is still at risk.

If you’d like to help preserve this corner of the park as it is and ensure it does not become a giant, ugly commercial property or some millionaire’s mountain mansion, please contact the conservancy. And tell your friends. You can help save this beautiful part of the park.

 For information, to make a gift, or to become a member, please contact the Conservancy at 970-586-0108, or www.RMConservancy.org. For more information about the cottages, see the RMC’s brochure.

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13 thoughts on “RMNP needs your help to purchase, protect 40 acres of land

  1. OMG! I’ve stayed there! It was owned and ran by my first husband’s ex-wife’s parents. (did that make sense?) So it would have been my 1st husband’s ex-in-laws. Anyway, I loved it! We went up there for a week back in 2001. Was a wonderful place to stay. Personally, I’d love to be able to buy it myself but it would be best for it to go to the park.

    1. I’m jealous. Given the location — you could just walk into the park. I had no idea the cottages were open to the public and was barely aware they existed. I almost always used the Beaver Meadows entrance and my favorite cabin was over near there.

      1. They were wonderful cabins. I really enjoyed staying there. If the park does not pick them up, I hope a nature lover does and keeps it pretty much the same.

      2. Yes, that would be the second best option. If the new owners keep renting them (instead of building a huge ugly lodge of some kind), it’s the kind of place I’d like to stay.

  2. My Uncle owned part interest in a silver mine back in the early 50’s about 100 miles from Colorado Springs. My brother and I spent several weeks at the cabin in a little community with several LOG CABINS in the area. We slept in a 4 person Silver Stream trailer,slept under a real bear rug blanket,and used a real out house(no indoor sewer facilities available) for the duration of the stay. Your picture of the area and story bring back fond memories. I caught my first lake/stream trout there and found real Indian arrow heads on the trails in the woods that were right there. And YES…on a cloudless night you could see the Milky Way with a billion stars all around. That was truly Awesome! In my personal opinion,only The Author of Creation could create such a magnificent glorious sight! Thank You for the memories. John

    1. It was definitely my pleasure. My dad started bringing the family up here for vacations in the late ’40s and ’50s. One summer we were in a log cabin with no indoor plumbing, a pump in the kitchen sink, a wood stove for cooking, and an outhouse that we kids were afraid to go to after dark (hence “chamberpots”). Many other years we were in equally rustic log cabins, but with indoor plumbing and normal stoves. I caught my first trout near Allenspark, under my dad’s tutelage. Learned to love this area back then and have never stopped. I consider it a huge privilege to be able to live this close now.

  3. Oh, PT, I do hope you all succeed in securing the land! I get very antsy here – our government started eyeing up our forests about 3 years ago and it makes you realise that nothing is safe forever, you have to be so vigilant. it looks a beautiful place.

    1. It would be a real tragedy for this corner of the park to be sold to commercial interests. It’s so close to one of best, most popular wildlife viewing areas and would surely ruin that for everyone. I’m hopeful the money will be raised, but you dare not assume anything these days.

  4. Oh, so glad I ran back trying to catch up.
    We have stayed in those cabins. Really rustic and basic – the rain can drip in between logs in strong storms, but so wonderful. Drinking coffee on the front porch watching the rain – front row seats to the mt bike races – and so quiet at night once the park closes up. As close as you can get to being in a cabin in the backwoods – and still drag your family along ….one light bulb hanging on a chord!.
    Will spread word to those we know who travel there. THANKS for the heads up.

      1. Still trying to figure out how I could have spent so many vacations in Estes without ever noticing these cabins. Talk about a front row seat on the park! Part of it, I know, is that after the Lawn Lake flood, I swore I’d never stay along that river. But that leaves an awful lot of earlier years. I can only assume it’s because we always approached Estes from the south, coming in on Hwy 7. To avoid downtown traffic, I always cut off on Mary’s Lake Road, and that put me in the SW part of town, looking for lodging near the Beaver Meadows entrance. Totally unfamiliar with the Fall River Road corridor west of downtown.

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