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RiverBend Inn of Estes Park
Authentic Mountain Village Getaway
A Land for All Seasons Open Year Round
Redemption on a River
One Night to One Month
Redemption Cabin is a peace-time oasis situated in the midst of endless outdoor adventure and a unique one-of-a-kind natural setting. It offers an authentically-rich mountain getaway experience and is a perfect place to explore Colorado and Estes Park for the first time ever, or to experience mountain village life like never before. The spectacular Big Thompson River and its dramatic convergence with Fall River, both born of glaciers higher up in Rocky Mountain National Park, are only footsteps out Redemption's door. The heart of downtown and the best that Estes Park has to offer are a short riverside stroll downstream.
The Cabin reflects the rugged character of 19th century Colorado. It is convenient, resourceful, restful, entertaining, and often life-changing; a gift worthy to be shared. All will find a welcome mat there. Redemption is a colorful & adventurous place with cheerful days, inside & out.
So, if you draw refreshment from the sights & sounds of snow-fed high-mountain rivers, Redemption is especially for you. It is open for travelers four distinct seasons a year.
Circa 1914, Redemption Cabin is the first of three chapters in the RiverBend story and was the first to complete a full preservation project one hundred years later. "Restoration Cottage" aka Trails Inn" and "End of the Line" are set to follow. Each are being transformed to provide, so much as is possible by us and the ancient topography, the very best in vacation accomodations.
You can find Redemption tucked on the picturesque outer reaches of the downtown historic district pinned between a tree lined bend of the Big Thompson and a rocky bluff of Little Prospect Mountain to its rear. No wonder the first settlers to the area fought hard to keep it as their exclusive hunting, fishing & camping grounds.
From main street (Elkhorn Avenue) turn south (left) on Riverside Drive, cross the merging rivers, and continue up the cabin filled lane until your reach Redemption on your left, just before the Thompson makes its looping right hand turn. Redemption is under the shade of Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce and a grove of Balsam Poplar that includes Estes Park’s First State Champion. Parking is just to right of the picket fence under the towering Blue Spruce.
Redemption is a quiet place where travelers have easy access to all the good dining, shopping & adventure this part of the world has to offer. And, they can get it all done on foot, if they want. The cabin is a carefree 3 minute walk to the heart of Estes Park's village life. And, is a short 5 minute ride to the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and all of its outdoor recreational opportunities, spectacular scenery & magnificent grandeur.
Back yard or back country, its landscape & wildlife viewing are unsurpassed.
Redemption is most suitable for singles, couples, good friends & small families and is ideal for active outdoors vacations, romantic getaways, hideaway honeymoons, or just laid-back retreats.
The Cabin's historic legacy & character have been retained while still providing most creature comforts of a modern home. It is equipped with fine period furniture and all new amenities, finishes & more. It is a clean, restful, and Eco-friendly environment.
Words cannot fully express what awaits you at Redemption Cabin. Much of life is in the eye of the beholder. Here you will find modern comforts with the charm of a spiffed-up old wooden floor.
Come experience the sights & sounds of the Rocky Mountains where your senses will be reignited, body refreshed, mind retooled, heart rejuvenated & life renewed; Redemption at its best.
The Heart of Endless Opportunities
Estes Park is a relaxing high mountain resort famous for its parks, cascading rivers, wildlife viewing, and heart pounding vistas, outdoor recreation, good times & family friendly values. It is the only place you need to go to enjoy a vacation of a lifetime. It is a unique small town that can put you in touch with big nature and Real Colorado. Each season is flush with magnificent days. We guarantee it!
Redemption Cabin has easy access to the best of both worlds. From the Cabin, you can stay on bike or foot. The heart of the village is downstream (north) out the front door. There you will discover picnic areas, playgrounds & parks, the Riverwalk & Confluence Park, Independent Shops, Rocky Mountain Memories & Paper Arts Studio, the Historic Park Theatre, Stanley Hotel, Performance Park, live music venues, Bond Park festivals, coffee shops, tasting rooms, pubs, pizza parlors, the Park's best restaurants & sweet shops, our Post Office & Laundromat, the Estes Park Public Library, grocery shopping, the Estes Park Visitors Center, our fairgrounds, Stanley Park & the Lake Estes Trail. The Historic Clatsworthy Studio, Aerial Tramway, Eagles Landing Restaurant, and Prospect Mountain are upstream to the immediate South. Piccadilly Square, Hunan’s Chinese Restaurant, Sweet Bazillico Italian Restaurant, the Donut Haus, the Rock Climbing School, Estes Park Microbrewery, and Smokin' Dave’s BBQ are another short walk up and around the bend to the immediate West. Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is just beyond. We share mountain views of the Lumpy Ridge, Twin Owls, and the snowcapped Continental Divide.
A Compelling Heritage: Vintage Estes Park
Redemption sits on real estate first prized by native Americans and the earliest settlers in this area.
Gold was discovered in Colorado in 1859. Among the thousands of adventurers who joined the rush was a Missouri native named Joel Estes. His original claim was near Fort St. Vrain, between the modern towns of Platteville and Fort Lupton. In October, he and his son Milton followed a trail west up the Little Thompson drainage, from what is now Lyons. They chanced upon a high mountain valley filled with wildlife and surrounded by snow covered peaks. In the spring of 1860, Joel and Milton returned to set up a cattle ranching operation including two houses and corrals at the eastern edge of that beautiful valley. Joel moved his wife Patsy and their four other children to the mountains year-round in 1863. The first known white child born in Estes Park was Milton’s third son in February, 1865.
The word “park” was in common usage at that time to describe an open area. William Byers, editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, visited in September, 1864 to attempt a climb of Longs Peak. He wrote an account of his trip which included hospitality extended to him by the Estes family and extolled the virtues of “Estes’ Park.”
The winter of 1864-65 was unusually severe. This may have contributed to the Estes family’s decision to leave the area in the spring of 1866. They sold the ranch to John Michael “Buck” Hollenbeck who in turn sold out to a Mr. Jacobs, who sold to Mr. Farrar, who sold it in 1867 to Griff Evans. The site of the Estes ranch is currently under the Fish Creek arm of Lake Estes.
Before Joel Estes first laid his eyes on the 'Estes' high mountain valley, the Utes and Arapahos were the first to make camp along by our riverside site. Following Estes came many colorful figures including the survivalist Mountain Jim, rancher Griff Evans, explorer Isabella Byrd, the rancher/attorney MacGregor, the notorious Irishman and Earl of Dunraven, the industrious Englishman John T. Cleave, surveyor Cornelius Bond, industrialist F. O. Stanley and naturalist Enos Mills.
According to Colorado Jurisprudence, the original deed covering Redemption's premises was executed on December 19, 1888 from Theodor Whyte, Lord Dunraven’s Director and Attorney in Fact, to John T. Cleave. Cleave, among his first notable achievements, built Dunraven’s original Estes Park Hotel. Later in the early 1880s, Cleave built, at the confluence of the Big Thompson and Fall Rivers, the Park’s first general store and post office. That site later became the nucleus of the future village of Estes Park.
At the time of the Colorado census of 1885, some twenty families and 105 individual were living in Estes Park. In 1899, Cleave’s daughter, Virginia, at thirteen was thought to the youngest to summit Longs Peak.
By 1900 the population reached two hundred, though growth remained in check until two important land exchanges occurred– the first, Cleave’s one hundred and sixty acres at the junction of the Big Thompson and Fall Rivers, and the other, the residual holdings of the Earl of Dunraven. These transactions altered the face of Estes Park forever. In March 1905, Cornelius Bond purchased for eight thousand dollars the 160 acres of land owned by Cleave. The location was ideal. Bond and his companions wanted to lay out a town, and the spot they selected with its two spectacular snow fed rivers and intersecting riverside roads, schoolhouse, and post office was already the center of community life. Most importantly, they found Cleave, a resident of the park for more than thirty years, and its postmaster for twenty, willing to sell and move on because ‘the danged place [was being] overrun by tourists’. People of adventure have been a part of Estes Park ever since. [See generally, James H. Pickering's 'This Blue Hollow' Estes Park, the Early Years, 1859-1915 and Town of Estes Park's official web site.]
Built in 1914, Redemption is one of the oldest remaining homesteads out of Cleave’s quarter section. Fully restored nearly 100 years later, this unique property is ready to entertain adventurous tourists and outdoors men from all around the world.
A Merging of Two Waters
RiverBend Inn sits on the famous snow-fed canyon-carving Big Thompson River. The headwaters of the Big Thompson begin in Forest Canyon within Rocky Mountain National Park and form a tributary of the South Platte River, The river flows east through Moraine Park to the town of Estes Park. Just before approaching RiverBend it turns due north to the center of Town.
At Confluence Park it bends back East, and together with Fall River, gives the beautiful Riverwalk birthright to its name.
About a ½ a mile on, their combined waters are held in Lake Estes by the Olympus Dam before being released into the Big Thompson Canyon. From Lake Estes, the River descends 1/2 mile in elevation through the mountains in the spectacular 25 mile white water ride. It emerges from the foothills on Highway 34 west of Loveland. It flows eastward, south of Loveland across the plains into Weld County and joins the South Platte approximately 5 mile south of Greeley.
Big Thompson Canyon Flood of 1976. On July 31, 1976, during the celebration of Colorado's centennial, the Big Thompson Canyon was the site of a devastating flash flood that swept down the steep and narrow canyon, claiming the lives of 143 people, 5 of whom were never found. This flood was triggered by a nearly stationary thunderstorm near the upper section of the canyon that dumped 12 inches of rain in less than 4 hours. Little rain fell over the lower section of the canyon, where many of the victims were.
Around 9 p.m., a wall of water more than 20 feet high raced down the canyon at about 14 mph, destroying 400 cars, 418 houses and 52 businesses and washing out most of U.S. Route 34.
This flood was more than 4 times as strong as any in the 112-year record available in 1976, with a discharge of 1,000 cubic meters per second. See, Wikipedia.
Fall River Flood of 1982. Lawn Lake Dam was an earthen dam in Rocky Mountain National Park that failed on July 15, 1982 at about 6 a.m. It is known as the flood of 1982. The sudden release of 30 million cubic foot of water resulted in a flash flood that killed three people camping in the park and caused $31 million in damage to the town of Estes Park, Colorado and other downstream areas.
Lawn Lake was originally a natural lake with a surface area of 16.4 acre, located at an altitude of approximately 11,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains. In 1903 a group of farmers from Loveland built a dam to increase it to a surface area of 48 acres for the purpose of providing water for irrigation in Loveland.
Over the years the road that had been cut to permit construction of the dam fell into disrepair and ceased to exist. Because of the dam's remote and difficult location, inspection and repairs lapsed. The Colorado State Engineer determined that the probable cause of the dam failure was deterioration of lead caulking on the joint between the outlet pipe and the gate valve leading to internal erosion of the earth-fill dam.
When the dam failed the waters rushed down the Roaring River valley, which falls 2,500 feet in 6 miles, at a peak rate of 18,000 cubic feet per second, scouring a large gully out of the mountain stream and killing one person camping alongside it. At this rate, the lake emptied in about a minute. When the waters reached the broader valley of Fall River at Horseshoe Park they spread out and slowed down, leaving behind a large alluvial fan of debris. The flood continued down Fall River and hit the Cascade Dam which stored water to run a hydroelectric plant about a mile downstream. Cascade Dam failed from the onslaught and added its waters to the flood. The Aspenglen campground was destroyed and two campers who returned to recover camping gear lost their lives, although rangers had been able to give advance warning. The flood entered the town of Estes Park and caused severe damage to the downtown shops. In Estes Park the flood joined the Big Thompson River and flowed into Lake Estes on the eastern edge of the city. Olympus Dam, part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, there withstood the deluge and the flood was halted.
The scar left by the scouring of Roaring River and the alluvial fan at Horseshoe Park are still very apparent 30 years later and will remain for a very long time. Twenty-five years after the accident, the extent of the former reservoir is still clearly evident, and at the mouth of the lake, the start of the Roaring River flows through the location of the former dam.
As a consequence of the dam failure, aging dams at Pear Reservoir, Bluebird Lake and Sandbeach Lake in the park were demolished and removed. See, Wikipedia.
A Home of Champions