The first Europeans did not make it into the Estes Valley until the 1840’s as hunters and trappers before Joel Estes first looked over the area in 1859. Though he and his family only stayed a few difficult years he began a rich history of hospitality and appreciation of the beauty and majesty that is still obvious. Joel is just one of the many interesting men and women we meet on the tour. Colorful folks like Mountain Jim Nugent, Isabella Bird, Lord Dunraven, Enos Mills, F.O. Stanley and many more help to shape the rich history that is Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park.
As evidenced by the Lava Cliffs at the top of Trail Ridge Road the Rockies were formed tens of millions of years ago by tectonic and volcanic activity. The many parks and valleys shaped by glacial ice called moraines. Traces of mankind have also been found as long ago as ten thousand plus years. The name Trail Ridge itself comes from trails formed by native Ute, Arapaho, and others who enjoyed the plentiful game, fish, and beauty just as we enjoy today.