Monica and I celebrated our belated one year anniversary at the gorgeous Estes Park this February. We stayed a cute little hotel (really a motel that had cutesy upgrades) right next to down town Estes Park called Murphy’s River Lodge. We chose a room that looked over the river, well, the frozen river that runs along the back of the hotel and into town. We thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the week before Valentine’s Day to forgo the requisite delays, crowded restaurants and overabundant PDA.
I bought Monica a fox necklace because there’s a Jimi song about her. She’s also in love with anything remotely Nordic. Naturally she lost it the day we arrived back home so who’s to know if this was a major award situation or not.
The hotel has a complimentary selection of “great” DVDs and fresh popcorn available every day. We utilized this to bring only the best entertainment to our trip. Because it was fairly cold (but still not as cold as it would be the next weekend), we spent a lot of our time hanging out at the hotel waiting for the sun to give us flitting glimmers of life.
One of the reasons Estes Park is such a popular tourist attraction (outside of the Stanley Hotel) is its proximity to the Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent our second day in the park in a section called Moraine Park. I’m glad we both came prepared with good boots, shoe chains, snow coats, and many, many layers. It was extremely cold. The snow was falling through the whole hike, which made it feel like a grander adventure than a typical, snowfall-free hike. The fog in the distance harkened to fantasy imagery.
We parked by a visitor center that was closed for the season. Everything was so quiet and peaceful with the dampening of sound because of the snow and with less tourist around because it was so cold. With sketchbooks in hand, each of us sketched out the luscious landscape. Personally, I think my drawings are far superior.
Monica follows the Paleo diet so finding a good restaurant can be challenging. The Dunraven Inn looked to have a wide selection of food, as well as seemed to cater well to dietary issues. We were pleasantly surprised with their ability to modify dishes to work for it and my lobster tail dish was delicious. The crispy brussel sprouts came in a large portion for us to share and they were exactly as advertised. Very crispy, and scrumptious to boot! I had The Godfather, a Manhattan with Angels Envy bourbon, Antica vermouth, bitters, and black cherries. It was outstanding.
Dunraven Inn overlooks Lake Estes, which had crispy ice along the edges and gentle waves in the center. There’s more pictures of the lake near the end as we stopped by during the day at the end of our trip.
Downtown Estes Park is a quaint collection of touristy shops where you can buy knickknacks, saltwater taffy, and all kinds of other treats and food. It’s worth checking out, but it’s not the kind of place you can spend a whole day in. There’s also a restaurant called The Bird and Jim nearby that we’ve visited several times and highly recommend.
Although we’ve been to Estes Park a number of times now, we hadn’t actually stopped by Estes Lake before. It was the perfect day, with blue skies, snow capped mountains, and icy patches along the edges of the lake.
There’s a local distillery in Estes Park called Elkins. I purchased their Colorado Winter flavored whiskey because it sounded perfect for the snowy Colorado weekends, curled up with a book, sitting with your knees against the heater. Tempting fate to catch your pants on fire.
Travel can be difficult, or even impossible during the current pandemic. If you do live an area that’s not as problematic and you’re able to travel to areas that still keep good cleaning and spacing standards, it’s well worth it for your mental and health wellbeing. We both really need this little escape and we’ll keep doing this over the weekend from time to time!
If you do ever want to visit Estes and enjoy folklore, the night Ghost Tour at the Stanley Hotel is also a must. We’ve been several times already so we’re waiting until we take some friends or family to Estes to visit it again.