ESTES PARK, Colo.,- While visitors to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park come by the thousands in the summer months, business owners in town are excited they now have one more way to get here.
Highway 34 is back open until October after a six-month construction closure for repairs from damage from the 2013 floods.
Reaction from business owners are mixed.
“I think Estes Park is such a great place to come to that people are not bothered by the 15 to 20-minute delay that they have to go around, and they’re finding their way here,” said Charley Dickey, co-owner of Rustic Mountain Charm. “My particular business has shown a 2 percent gain from last year in the first quarter. But I think there are some businesses that are struggling. The closer you get to the exit and entrance of 34, the worse it is because of the limited traffic.”
One of those businesses next to the canyon that is typically one of the first seen when coming into town on highway 34 is the Estes Ark. During the closure, it was one of the last that visitors would see.
“It’s been very slow. We lost probably 50 percent of our business from the year before,” said Brian LaBore, co-owner of the Estes Ark. “Especially for us being right on 34, because on 34 nobody came by here anymore, and they had signs saying 34 was shut down, so nobody would come down this way.”
Other businesses in town report revenue drops of 25-30 percent over the course of the closure.
Regardless of how hard hit some businesses were, everyone is excited to have the canyon back open, and just in time for the Estes Park Centennial.