Eric highlights the city’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park and bountiful outdoor activities.
Hailing from Sun Valley, Idaho, Eric Lund spent over 25 years in the San Diego area promoting the city and county before returning to the Rocky Mountains. He’s now the CEO of Visit Estes Park, which promotes this beautiful gateway to Colorado’s outdoor activities
What kinds of Estes Park experiences do you promote to visitors?
Obviously—being so close to the great outdoors—we promote just about every sport you can imagine. We especially like to emphasize fishing, hiking and mountain climbing, and we’re considered the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. On Lake Estes you can use the marina to rent paddleboards, canoes and kayaks in addition to pontoons. We also have some great private tour companies who can take you whitewater rafting or on a guided tour of the mountains. There’s also a gondola [the Estes Park Aerial Tramway] that goes to the top of the hill for scenic views.
We also love to promote our town because it’s filled with wonderful shops that offer a variety of goods for pretty much everybody. Out of our 75 restaurants, about 20 can accommodate large parties, and Dunraven at the Estes Park Resort is an especially popular Italian restaurant.
Are there distillery or agritourism experiences available?
We have a distillery (Elkins Distilling Co.), Snowy Peaks Winery and five breweries. A number of those facilities welcome group tours, and we have two dedicated group sales specialists that work hard to make sure every group receives special attention.
What group lodging do you recommend for larger groups?
I always recommend the YMCA of the Rockies, which is the largest YMCA property in the United States and good for groups who want a lot of outdoor activities. There’s also the Ridgeline Hotel, which is very accommodating to groups with six breakout rooms (including one that can handle up to 300 people). Same thing with the Stanley Hotel, which is iconic and has been in Estes Park as long as the national park has been attracting visitors.
What are some of the notable festivals that attract out-of-town visitors?
Bigfoot Days in the spring are very popular—which is when people claimed to see Bigfoot around here. We also host the Scottish Festival, where people bring their fresh harvest for sale, and the popular whiskey and beer festivals. We also host the Rooftop Rodeo, which is terrific and was voted one of the best small rodeos in the United States.
If you had a free day to yourself in Estes Park, what would you visit personally?
I like to take my three dogs out hiking in Hermit Park, which is really spacious and allows dogs. In the wintertime I’ll cross country ski, and our local hills here host skijoring, which is basically when you’re cross country skiing but being pulled by a dog.