Rocky Mountain National Park’s diversity is part of what makes it so magical. From snow-capped peaks to lush wildflower-dotted trails to thundering waterfalls, this park seriously shows off. That diversity also makes the surrounding community of Estes Park vibrant and unique.
We’ve rounded up three amazing LGBTQ+-owned businesses to check out on your way to or from Rocky Mountain National Park. These locally owned businesses showcase how the essence of a place is really the sum of its parts.
River Spruce Cabins
2334 Tunnel Road, Estes Park
Relax in your own cozy cabin nestled along the banks of the Big Thompson River in Estes Park at the River Spruce Cabins. These one, two and three bedroom cabins with kitchens offer a homey experience on your vacation. Some even have private hot tubs. Fall asleep to the sound of the river before a day spent exploring the park. You’ll be situated five minutes from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, or you can simply hike into the park from your cabin.
Owners Shelley Powers and Wendye Sykes love to take a picnic lunch to Moraine Park during the elk rut in the fall. “It’s a 20-30 minute stroll and we avoid the traffic jams that way,” says Powers.
Don’t forget a backgammon set for a perfect mountain afternoon.
Learn more at www.riverspruce.com.
Art Center of Estes Park
517 Big Thompson Avenue, Unit 245, Estes Park
While the Art Center of Estes Park is a non-profit, it’s LGBTQ+-managed. This incredible gallery is located right downtown and showcases local and regional artists of all types. The gallery also offers art classes, an art market and puts on the amazing Estes Valley Plein Air festival each fall.
Manager Lars Sage runs the gallery in which you’ll find everything from oil and acrylic paintings to pen and ink drawings to ceramics, jewelry and sculptures.
His advice on where to refuel? Summit Nutrition at 165 Virginia Drive. “I recommend them for delicious energy shakes and teas to refresh especially during the warm summer days,” says Sage.
Learn more at www.artcenterofestes.com.
Rocky Mountain Resorts
Jerry Blackmore and Lindsay Lamson own Rocky Mountain Resorts, which offers one of the largest varieties of accommodations in Estes Park. Stay at the Lazy R Cottages, the closest accommodations to Rocky Mountain National Park’s south side, or Fawn Valley Inn, which is just a mile from the park on the north side.
Or, opt to stay in the Triple R Cottages, adorably historic cabins from the early 1900s that have been completely renovated on the inside – think flat-screen TVs, in-cabin bathrooms and log furniture. Timber Creek Chalets, Sunnyside Knoll Resort and various vacation home and cabin rentals throughout Estes Park also fall under Rocky Mountain Resorts.
Jerry Blackmore has lived in Estes Park since the late 1990s and loves to help guests that identify as LGBTQ+ find safe and welcoming things to do in the area. His go-to suggestions? Head to the Rock Inn Mountain Tavern for live bluegrass music and amazing food. “They fly their Pride flag year round and park employees also love to come here, so it has a really welcoming and local feel,” says Blackmore.
He also suggests horseback riding in the park with SK Horses, a super welcoming company that operates the Cowpoke Corner Corral and National Park Gateway stables.
Learn more at www.rockymtnresorts.com.