As the heat wave continues in Bangkok, Estes Park, 111 kilometres from Denver, might be a welcome reprieve. It has multiple claims to fame: the town’s Stanley Hotel is where author Stephen King gained inspiration to write The Shining, the horror novel adapted into a film starring Jack Nicholson, and the mountain enclave is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is also beloved for its unparalleled access to traditional Colorado outdoor pursuits like fly-fishing and horseback riding (local outfitters supply a variety of excursions) and a charming downtown area that’s lined with sweets and souvenir shops.
Rocky Mountain National Park boasts more than 668 square kilometres of some of Mother Nature’s finest landscapes, from glistening alpine lakes and sky-tickling snow-capped peaks to sprawling forests teeming with wildlife like elk, moose and more than 270 species of birds. Hiking, camping, backpacking and fishing are just a handful of activities available, but if you’re short on time, a drive on Trail Ridge Road is one of the best ways to encounter some of the most iconic backdrops. The highest continuous automobile road in America (the highest point is a whopping 3,713 metres), Trail Ridge travels from Estes Park to the town of Grand Lake and has photo-worthy sights of evergreen woodlands, expansive tundra and alpine wild flowers (late May through mid-October, weather dependent).
While stunning, the stately 1909 Stanley hotel is also a historic gem. Reside in a room in the original main building, or treat yourself to a stay in the property’s new Aspire Residences, complete with mountain-chic décor, plush bedding and lovely views of Rocky Mountain National Park. Sign up for the Stanley night tour to learn about the supposedly haunted hotel’s history, architecture and paranormal activity. The red-roofed ivory building also starred in the nightmare-inducing Shining; you might also recognize it from the 1994 comedy flick Dumb and Dumber starring Jim Carrey.
Tucked within the Stanley Hotel, Cascades Restaurant is a steakhouse that offers hearty American cuisine. Feast on T-bone lamb chops and baby kale Caesar, then retire to the Whiskey Bar to choose from over 1,200 varieties of whiskey and scotch – Colorado’s largest selection. Within the past few years, the state’s culinary scene has been shaped by a growing population of passionate farmers and ranchers. Sample farm-to-table cuisine at Seasoned – An American Bistro, where the menu could include sage and goat cheese fritters or chicken-leg confit with shaved Brussels sprouts.