NEAR ESTES PARK, Colo. — Rocky Mountain National Park is growing from the inside. Just last month, the park became the new owner of the last and largest private property within its boundaries. The next step is to decide what to do with the land and the structures on it.
Local groups and the surrounding community raised $3.4 million to buy the 42-acre Cascade Cottages property. $1.75 million was raised privately by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Other funds came from the Larimer County Open Lands Program, the Estes Valley Land Trust and the town of Estes Park.
The land was transferred to the park in March. The property was previously family-owned, and the family had operated the summer cottages from 1941 all the way until summer 2016. The cottages are located one mile inside the Fall River entrance.
"We worked closely with the family that this land was purchased from. They really, in the long-term, wanted it to become part of the National Park Service,” said Rocky Mountain Conservancy Executive Director Estee Rivera Murdock.
There is currently no development planned for the cottages, but officials said they could be re-purposed for the next generation as an educational facility or a camp area for youth programs.
The park is planning to get the public involved by organizing and holding a public comment process to decide the future for the Cascade Cottages property.
The national park is also working to preserve even more wilderness.
Rocky Mountain Conservancy worked with the Wilderness Land Trust and the National Park Trust to buy the Wild Basin Property. The plan is to take down the house located on the land and cover the roads with vegetation. If all plans go through, this will add 33 acres of wilderness to Rocky Mountain National Park.