Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is considering options for the future use of the 42-acre Cascade Cottages property acquired in March of 2017. For many decades Kansas school-teachers L.V. and Hazel Davis operated a privately-owned lodging business that was open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Honoring the wishes of the family patriarch, the family approached park staff in 2009, offering to sell the property to the park. With assistance from the Trust for Public Land, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, and many donors, including the Estes Valley Land Trust, Larimer County, and the Town of Estes Park, the park was able to acquire the property. Park staff are now in the process of determining how the property should be used and/or preserved.
The Cascade Cottages property is bordered on the south by Fall River, and is named for a series of cascades on the river. The property is bisected by Fall River Road (U.S. Highway 34), and is located approximately 1 mile inside the Fall River Entrance to RMNP. The property office, 12 rustic cabins, and associated infrastructure are located on the south side of Fall River Road and lie very lightly on the land. The cabins are built on stone or concrete piers, and water lines run above ground. There is no well or permanent water system. Water was hauled to the site and stored in above ground tanks, and propane was delivered to the site. The only externally provided utilities are power and telephone. The property to the north of Fall River Road is undeveloped.
While no decision has been made on the future use of the Cascade Cottages Property, some preliminary options have been developed to initiate discussion. These preliminary options are:
Youth Conservation Corps Seasonal Housing
The park’s friends group, The Rocky Mountain Conservancy, funds a youth conservation corps every summer. The corps perform projects within the park such as trail reconstruction. Some of the existing cottages could be renovated and site improvements completed to provide housing that would only be occupied by the corps during the summer months.
Youth and Volunteer Outdoor Education
Some of the cabins could be renovated and minor site improvements completed to provide a rustic lodging and outdoor education facility for youth or park volunteers that have limited experience with the outdoors. Not as outdoorsy as camping, the rustic cabins could provide an outdoors experience without all the comforts of home.
Mothball the Structures
RMNP would terminate all outside services (power and phone), and would secure each building from entry using plywood coverings over windows and doors. While left unused, the buildings would not receive routine maintenance.
Remove the Structures and Restore the Site
The structures and infrastructure would be removed and recycled to the extent feasible. The ground would be scarified to break up compacted soil, and the area replanted with native grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees. The goal would be to place all disturbed areas on a trajectory where they would be restored to natural conditions in a matter of a few decades.
If you have comments on the options above or an idea for the future of Cascade Cottages that is compatible with the mission of the National Park Service, please share your idea with us!
Comments must be received in writing by close of business on April 23, 2018. Comments can be submitted online by visiting: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/romo. Look for “Cascade Cottages.”
Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO 80517
Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.
If you have questions about the project or would like more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.