Frequently Asked Questions about Ponderosa Lodge
Q: How high is up?
A: Calling from the coast? Remember, you are at sea level. The elevation in Denver is one mile (5280 feet for those who don’t remember). The general elevation in Estes Park is about 7500 feet. Our office elevation is about 7800 feet. As you travel the area you will be viewing peaks up to about 14,300 feet.
Q: Do I need to rent a four-wheel drive for the mountains?
A: In the same way that the car rental companies charge extra for convertibles, they charge more for four- wheel drives in this area. Request a front wheel drive vehicle if you are a little nervous. Better yet, request an all-wheel drive vehicle. But don’t be surprised if the rental clerk doesn’t know what you are talking about.
Q: What kind of clothes do I need to bring?
A: It’s the same answer winter or summer. Bring clothing that can be layered. Even on a cold winter day, if you are hiking on a sunny trail, you may strip down to a light shirt and still be exceedingly warm. But as soon as the sun goes down, its a different story. In the summer, you may hike in a T-shirt and shorts, but as soon as the sun drops behind the mountains, the temperature drops too. Bring long pants and a sweater. You will need them in the evening. Bring rain gear, too, as we have an afternoon shower nearly every day beginning early in July and continuing into August.
Q: I jog ten miles a day at home, on the beach. Can I do that distance my first day in Estes Park?
A: Only if you leave directions at the front desk, telling us where to send your body.
Q: When is the best time to make a reservation?
A: Sooner is always better than later. The Ponderosa has been here for over 50 years, and for most of that time has had a reputation as the cleanest place in Estes Park. Further, we have someone at the desk taking reservations every day of the year. Thus, in the off season, when you call during office hours you will talk to a person, not an answering machine. For these and other reasons (our location, our friendly, intelligent and competent staff, etc) we book up earlier than some others.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular summer tourist destination in the country. Unfortunately, everyone wants to be here in July and August, and there are not enough rooms to hold all those who call. For these reasons, the high season now stretches from mid-June to mid-October, with an increasing number of visitors off-season. Slowly, Estes Park is becoming a year-round vacation area.
Q: Do I need a fireplace in the summer?
A: Not really, but many find a fire enjoyable after the sun goes down and the temperature drops.
Q: Why don’t you have air conditioning?
No one asks this question after their first visit to the area. The combination of altitude and low humidity makes for a pleasant climate, even on the warmest days.
Q: How can I keep my young kids occupied?
A: Well, you can take them on hikes until they drop. There are nature lectures and activities at the park headquarters. There are amusement parks in and around Estes Park. You can purchase books on the birds, animals, flowers, history of the area at a local bookstore and explore with books in hand. Young children do not need fishing licenses and you can rent fishing gear for a modest cost. There are also options for horseback riding, white water rafting in season, and hot air ballooning in the region.
Q: What’s it like (what is there to do) in the winter?
A: Estes Park has a mild winter climate, as it is a protected mountain valley. The storms which provide snow for the ski industry on the Western Slope rarely reach over the mountains to Estes Park. Colorado has more sun days than Hawaii, so our publicists say, and most winter days are clear, crisp and pleasant. If it snows, or the wind blows, you can go shopping, or light a fire and read a book, or just relax.
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter can be an unforgettable experience. During the week, especially, you can have the park to yourself. Downhill skiing is available within an hours drive of Estes Park.