When you drive up Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the mountains you’ll see is Longs Peak. Piercing the sky at 14,259 feet, it has a curiously flat summit that bears a striking resemblance to an uneven table top. It attracts avid hikers from all over the world to climb it.
What many don’t know is the love story entangled with the peak. Without it, Rocky Mountain National Park might not exist. It started in 1884 when 14-year-old Enos Mills arrived in Estes Park from Kansas. When he spotted Longs Peak, it was love at first sight. He positioned his small log cabin, so he would have fantastic views of Longs. He climbed the peak 40 times on his own and an additional 300 times as a guide.
But it wasn’t until he met naturalist John Muir on a San Francisco beach that he dedicated himself to making the area around Longs Peak a national park. In 1915, his dream was realized when Rocky Mountain National Park became the country’s 10th national park.
Today, you’ll feel the same wonder Mills felt more than 100 years ago.