Having lived in Estes Park for over seventy years, Bill Van Horn has seen the changes in Estes Park more than most. Bill continues to contribute to both conservation and economic sustainability efforts. Born and raised in Estes Park, he graduated High School here and went on to get a degree in Engineering from Colorado State University. Early on, he and his family were involved in dude ranching and also owned the Hobby Horse Ranch and Red Stallion restaurant, which later became Discovery Lodge.
Bill went on to become a full time engineer for the Town of Estes Park and helped create the Public Works and Planning Departments for the town. In 1978, he took over Van Horn Engineering from his Father, Paul Van Horn, who had led surveying efforts for the Estes Park portion of the excavation of the Adams tunnel to Grand Lake. Bill retired from the engineering firm in 2003.
In 1985, Bill Van Horn was instrumental in the planning, engineering and creation of Stanley Village. “I remember when we were building Safeway and a lot of people were opposed to it. The same thing happened when we built Fun City and today they are very important to both residents and visitors alike,” said Bill.
Given his experience and background, Bill currently serves on the Larimer County Board of Appeals. He also serves as the Chairman of the MacGregor Ranch Board of Trustees and as a Director of the North End Property Owners Association. Macgregor Ranch is the last remaining working cattle ranch in Estes Park and one of the few sites operating as both a working ranch and youth education center in the northern Colorado area. It’s unique in that its historic collection and structures are original to the 1873 homestead family, and its collection is completely intact.
Believing in the importance of economic sustainability as well, Bill became an Estes Park EDC board member at its inception in 2013. Van Horn favors supporting local businesses first, rather than trying to attract out-of-town businesses. “I’m not a big believer in recruiting new business to Estes Park. I don’t think we need new big businesses,” he said.
While supporting efforts to diversify from our dependence on visitation, Bill recognizes those businesses need to complement our existing businesses, not change our character. “I think we should focus on taking care of the people that are coming to visit,” says Bill. “We need to make sure that we give visitors a good vacation experience outside of the park as well. But we need to do that without affecting the character of the town.”