The Two Gems of Estes Park

Estes Park isn’t just another one of those cute Colorado Mountain towns. As one of the most popular gateways to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a popular destination for those looking to explore one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. With countless trails to choose from, a visit into this section of the Rocky Mountains is unlike anything you’ll ever experience.

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Hiking through the Rocky Mountain National Forest.

Just over three miles round trip, the trek to Gem Lake is nearly a 1,000-ft elevation gain, with the lake itself sitting at 8,830 feet above sea level. But the views along the way alone were worth it; and hiking while snow was gently sprinkling down on us was like climbing toward a glittering winter wonderland, a freezing glittering winter wonderland.

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View from along the trail to Gem Lake.
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A perfect place to stop and enjoy the view.

I would definitely recommend spikes for your hiking boots, snow pants, and plenty of layers if you decide to hike up to Gem Lake in the winter months. The winding path features countless icy patches. As you climb higher, the wind no longer whistles through the tress but rather through you, chilling you to the bone.

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A little yoga break to loosen up.
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Fellow hikers walking over a frozen Gem Lake.

Before driving back to Denver, check out the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write the book The Shining. Sitting atop a hill, overlooking the town of Estes Park, The Stanley features a main hotel, a restaurant, and several condos spread out on a spacious estate.

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The Stanley hotel of Estes Park, CO.

The Stanley’s fame grew after Stephen King and his wife were its only guests in late September of 1974. After wandering through the halls, Stephen King woke from a dream and lit a cigarette. “By the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind,” said Stephen King when explaining his inspiration behind the story on stephenking.com.

Since Stephen King is one of Jake’s favorite authors, we did more than just admire The Stanley Hotel, we dined at the haunted hotel. TheCascades, the Stanley’s classic American restaurant is home to dozens of autographed photos, all of which adorn the walls of the eatery. No doubt the beautiful hotel with an intriguing past attracted and still attracts many famous individuals.

One hot toddy with lunch at one of Colorado’s most famous hotels, we turned up the heat in the car and made our way back to Denver satisfied with the two gems of Estes Park.

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

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