Tuesday, October 15

Tourism On The Mend in Colorado's Estes Park


Aspen Lodge and SPA wrangler Ryan Fling at work on the trail in 2010.
Last month's heavy rains may have dealt a near catastrophic blow to a number of tourism operations in and around Estes Park, but there are increasing signs that business is slowly returning to normal. October is Prime Time for visitors who usually come to this gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to experience fall colors and elk spotting. Media reports say as many as 10,000 visitor  were ushered through Park gates this weekend. Washed out roads and the Federal government's shutdown made for a perfect storm. Fortunately, RMNP officially re-opened this weekend, and the flow of tourism revenues should start trickling in at least for some area businesses.

One of those tourism operations that is likely to take longer to recover is Aspen Lodge Resort and Spa. This well-known establishment suffered greatly as a result of a mudslide which landed right in the parking lot of the main lodge, disturbing critical utilities infrastructure like the freshwater supply. Getting the Lodge back to market-readiness is likely to take many months.

The historic Aspen Lodge Livery in 2010
The Lodge's livery took a heavy blow when it was blanketed in mud. All the horses escaped. One draft horse which ended up buried in mud up to its hips, according to media reports, was rescued by a crane operator who happened to be in the area. Out of the sorrow resulting from the damage, some positive stories are emerging.

Inside view the heritage Livery building before the mudslide
I was lucky enough to capture a trail ride experience at Aspen Lodge on video in 2010, during a fall tour operator inspection trip. It shows a landscape that must look quite different now than it looked like then. But nature is strong. It will reshape itself, once again, to perfection.


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