Estes Park: Front Range Proximity Meets Inspiring National Park

This column was originally written for the Colorado Real Estate Journal

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As a national destination, Estes Park serves as an ambassador for many future Colorado residents.  Our accessibility to DIA compares favorably to other National Park destination resorts, both in Colorado and nationally. In 2016, Rocky Mountain National Park received over 4.5 million visitors, an increase of 40 percent since 2012, making Estes Park a basecamp for mountain adventure.  Amazingly, an estimated 40% of Estes Park’s visitors never even enter Rocky Mountain National Park.  That high visitation rate supports our efforts to diversify our economy, as new and existing businesses find ways to complement our tourism economy with new products and services. 

Quality of life is foremost for residents, both new and old, with spectacular trailheads accessible just minutes from your home or office, and a wealth of recreational activities.

Private Sector Investment is growing

Major Capital Investments continue to offer a bigger and brighter future for businesses, guests and residents. Recent capital investments in the Estes Valley include:

  • Delaware North has acquired Rocky Mountain Park Inn, which is now the Ridgeline Hotel. Major renovations are occurring now and they will be opening on May 15th
  • The Stanley Hotel recently expanded its campus by completing the Aspire Residences.  A state of the art 17,000 sq. ft. Wedding Pavilion is also slated to open this the Fall.
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts, a national retail brand, has opened a new location in Estes Park.
  • Dollar General, another national chain, is scheduled to open this Fall.
  • A new format drive-through Starbucks is expected to replace a prior national tenant in Stanley Village.
  • A recent Safeway remodel reflects current growth in Estes Park.

A proposed $35 Million downtown Performing Arts Center is being planned with construction to begin in the Spring of 2018.

Infrastructure Investments

As Estes Park continues to grow as a destination, infrastructure investments are on the rise to meet demand.  Major projects include:

  • Expansion of the Estes Park Fairgrounds facilities. The new Event Center includes 33,000 square feet of exhibit space, and the new Pavilion providing 19,184 square feet of adjoining space.
  • A four-story parking structure with over 400 spaces is to be completed near the Visitors Center before July 4.  It will serve both as a shuttle transit facility, and a place that is walkable to downtown. 
  • The 70, 000 square-foot Estes Valley Community Recreation Center is to be completed by January 2018. The Community Center will offer an indoor running track, weight room, multi-court gymnasium, lap and leisure pools with waterslide, lazy river and more.
  • The Downtown Estes Loop project will improve downtown Estes Park’s traffic congestion.  Construction may not begin until 2021.

Competitive Broadband a Top Priority

Redundant, affordable, high-speed broadband is on the horizon. This summer, a $1.4 million detailed engineering plan for regional fiber to the home will be completed.  With an additional $1.4 million spent by the Town utility on expanding the regional fiber network for smart metering, there is a demonstrated commitment to progress.  The goal is to ensure access to 1 gig internet at affordable prices.  Local community members hope for a decision on implementation by year end.

Enterprise Zone Designation in 2016

 In 2016, the entire Estes Valley region was designated an Enterprise Zone, allowing businesses to take advantage of state tax credits. 

Changing Business Climate

Estes continues to make our town more accessible to new and expanding businesses.  In 2014, the Estes Park EDC and local entrepreneurs worked together to institute a code change which allowed for new breweries and distilleries. This allowed Estes Park to expand its craft-made beverage industry with three new businesses opening:  Elkins Distilling Co., Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co., and Rock Cut Brewing Co.  Estes Park features high quality municipal electric and water utilities.  The town’s Community Development Department is working to streamline development and permit approvals, by improving both the process and the development code itself. 

Workforce Housing Need Creates Opportunity

In 2016, the Estes Park Housing Authority commissioned a detailed Housing Needs Assessment study. (Available on our website at The needs forecast calls for 890 to 1,040 rental units within the next five years.  The Town of Estes Park is preparing an RFP concerning a 70-acre parcel on Fish Hatchery Road with an emphasis on workforce housing solutions. The RFP is expected to be available in the near future at

This centennial year for the Town of Estes Park marks a major transition, as we set a course for future improvements.  More projects are poised to emerge, and we expect the current downtown planning process to make opportunities for redevelopment more accessible.

Estes Park EDC is a non-profit public/private partnership that exists to help both existing and potential businesses.  For more information, contact us at or visit our website,