Colorado Travel Planning Guides : Estes Park Vacation Planner : Big Thompson Canyon

Big Thompson Canyon

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Estes Park, Colorado, Calendar of Events

(Calendar of Events) - Estes Park - An Insider's Guide Homepage - (Spur 66 Corridor)

Best Route is mapped.

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Take I-70 W toward Grand Jct
Take exit 244 for US-6 E toward Golden
Turn right onto US-6 E
Turn left onto CO-119
Take 119 through Black Hawk to Nederland.
In Nederland, at the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto W 2nd St
Continue onto CO-72 W - Caribou St
Turn left onto CO-7 W/CO-7 Scenic W/S St Vrain Dr
Continue to follow CO-7 W
Turn left onto Marys Lake Rd
Turn right onto Riverside Dr
Continue onto Virginia Dr
Continue onto Park Ln
Alert! The North End of Colorado's Front Range has been impacted by flooding. Areas most impacted include: Boulder, Fort Collins, Estes Park, Longmont, Loveland and Rocky Mountain National Park. Many roads are closed and events have been canceled. These are the best sources to see the most up-to-date information regarding current road information and community news updates:

The Estes Park Daily News
The Boulder Daily Camera
The Denver Post
The Fort Collins Coloradoan
The Colorado Department of Transportation
Rocky Mountain National Park

These areas of Colorado could use everyone's help. Please visit these sites to contribute:
Colorado Red Cross
Foot Hills United Way

Big Thompson Canyon


The Big Thompson Canyon is a heavily wooded area of scenic beauty with rugged cliffs and high mountains bordering the Big Thompson River.

The two-lane highway follows the river, and winds around walls of granite, which lift their heads thousands of feet in the air, past timber and grass covered slopes. The views presented along the route through this wonderful canyon are some of the state's most breathtaking. Many visitors - especially those on their first trip up the canyon - can't resist the urge to pull over, get out of their vehicles and admire the wonderful works of nature or snap some postcard-perfect photos along the way.

Big Thompson Canyon, Estes Park, ColoradoThe Big Thompson River and Canyon were named for David Thompson, an English engineer and astronomer, who, early in the 19th century, explored many streams in the Mid-West and mountain states in search of trapping camps on the Big Thompson and Cache Le Poudre rivers.

The modern history of the Big Thompson Canyon started in earnest when Loveland merchants wanted to build a road through the canyon towards the Continental Divide. Difficult to build, it was so narrow that problems arose when wagons met in an area with no pullouts.

The towns of Drake and Glen Haven were stage stops allowing travelers a chance to get out of the dusty, bumpy stage and stretch their legs and get food and drink. These stage stops quickly expanded into small villages that catered to travelers. Locals from the Front Range build cabins and cottages in the canyon to escape the heat of the summer sun. Many of the cabins and cottages in the canyon that date back to the turn of the last century have been modernized and are available for rent today. A variety of accommodations offering year-round lodging are also available in the canyon. Today, visitors can choose from charming motels, family-friendly or secluded cabins and cottages, romantic beds and breakfasts, vacation homes or RV and tent campgrounds. All offer amazing opportunities
Big Thompson Canyon Elk, Estes Park, Colorado for wildlife viewing and the peaceful backdrop of the rushing, crystal clear Big Thompson River.

It's not uncommon to see a handful of cars pulled off to the side of the canyon.
(especially during the busier summer months) taking photos of the wildlife crossing the highway.

There is an abundance of wildlife that calls the canyon home. Big horn sheep, mule deer and elk graze in the lush canyon and can frequently be found along the roadside nibbling on the tender shoots of grass and wildflowers. On occasion you may even spot a mountain lion, bobcat or bear. Thousands of hummingbirds follow the lead of summer residents and tourists and come to the canyon to escape the summer heat.

The splendor of the Big Thompson Canyon, with its tumbling river, is awe-inspiring. It is an area of enormous beauty that attracts vacationers seeking solitude in a pristine setting. Visitors enjoy hiking, world-class trout fishing, rock climbing, antiquing, dining, shopping, picnicking and simply enjoying the scenery. A handful of historic shops dot the canyon and offer goods, including Southwest and American Indian art as well as locally produced food and T-shirts. Be sure to stop and enjoy all the canyon has to offer. You may not find some of these items anywhere else.


See More

Boulder Brook on Fall River
(800) 238-0910

"It would be hard to find a more beautiful setting for a lodging establishment." - Frommer's Comprehensive Travel. Pamper yourself in a beautifully decorated spa or one bedroom suite.

Rocky Mountain Gateway
(970) 577-0043
Included in the Rocky Mountain Gateway Center, The Gift Shop, the largest variety of gifts and souvenirs in the area. Trailhead Restaurant, a full service restaurant with top-notch food and service. Visitor Center offers outstanding wildlife exhibits and a spectacular view of the park.

Stay The Trail
P.O. Box 620252, Littleton
Looking for resources and information about the use of off- highway vehicles? Visit Stay The Trail for maps and up to date information.

Mountain Whitewater Descents
1329 N. Hwy 287, Fort Collins
(970) 419-0917
Whitewater rafting on Colorado's only "Wild and Scenic" River. A spectacular river set among a gorgeous canyon ensures a fantastic wilderness trip. Remember, our guides make the difference!

The Baldpate Inn
4900 S. Hwy 7, Estes Park
(866) 577-5397

(970) 586-5397
Adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, this 1917 inn is just 7 miles from Estes Park. Gourmet breakfast & homemade snacks. The mountain lodge rooms & cabins feature handmade quilts and great views.


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