Located near Loveland, Colorado and Estes Park, the Park is bisected by Highway 34. The National Park is one of the best examples and playgrounds of the Rocky Mountains. In nearby Estes Park is the Stanley Hotel and Historic District which attracts many visitors from around the world at the gateway to the Rockies.
The Park is only 76 miles from Denver and it’s airport, making it a hot tourist location for the world. It is represented as the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and is nestled between the towns of Estes Park in the east and Grand Lake in the west. The eastern and western slopes of the Continental Divide run directly through the park with the headwaters of the Colorado River from the northwest. The park features mountains, alpine lakes, glaciation, wooded forests, mountain tundra all with a variety of wildlife.
President Woodrow Wilson declared the area a protected area with “The Rocky Mountain National Park Act” on January 26, 1915 and work by The Civilian Conservation Corps built the main auto route and Trail Ridge Road in the 1930’s. By 1976, the Park was designated as one of the World’s first Biosphere reserves. The park receives over 4 million visitors a yar making it the third most visited National Park in the United States.
There are five visitor centers located within and the park headquarters located at Beaver Meadows. The region that is the National Park was first utlized by humans when Paleo-Indians traveled along what is now the Trail Ridge Road to hunt for food. The most notorious tribes to frequent the area were the Ute and Arapahoe who hunted and camped here. Euro-Americans came in 1820 with the Long Expedition led by Stephen H. Long via the Platte River. By the mid-1800’s, settlers began coming to the area displacing the Native AMericans who primarily left by 1860 and others relocated to reservations by 1878. In the Summer Mountains, the towns of Lulu City, Dutchtown, and Gaskill were built by 1870 for prospectors searching for gold and silver. When the boom ended in 1883, many prospectors deserted their claims in the area. The railroad was built and reached Lyons, Colorado in 1881 and the Big Thompson Canyon Road (part of U.S. Route 34) from Loveland to Estes Park was finished by 1904. In the 1920’s, there was a great boom in the area, especially on the eastern slopes, building log cabins, lodges, and roads in the park.