Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson

Larimer County Offices, Courts, District Attorney, and Landfill are closed on May 29, 2017 in observance of the Memorial Day Holiday. Critical services at Larimer County are not disrupted by closures.


Estes Valley Plan

Planning Area 2 - Fish Creek/Little Prospect Mountain


The topography of Planning Area 2 is generally described as prominent mountains and ridges on the east and west, bisected by the fish creek drainage running from south to north. The western boundary consists of the ridge line of Prospect Mountain, which is a visually prominent mountain located centrally within the entire planning study area. The steep slopes found on Prospect Mountain present challenges to ensure sensitive development.

The eastern boundary includes a heavily wooded, mountainous ridge line which contains a number of small drainages, the central portion of the planning area consists of gentle slopes which drain into Fish Creek.

Elevations within the planning area range from 8,900 feet at the top of Prospect Mountain, and the same approximate elevation along the ridge to the east, to a low of approximately 7,500 feet at Lake Estes.

Lake Estes is a prominent landmark that creates the northern boundary of the planning area. All drainages within the study area eventually flow into Lake Estes. Fish Creek drains a relatively large basin that extends to the south and west as far as Lily Lake and Marys Lake.

Several detention areas exist within Planning Area 2, including a series of open space ponds in Carriage Hills at the southern boundary of the planning area. The drainage from the Marys Lake area, which runs from west to east and joins Fish Creek, acts as a natural open space corridor and is an important wildlife habitat.

The primary views within the planning area are divided into two main viewsheds, defined by topography. The northern half of the planning area has views toward Lake Estes and the southern portion of the planning area has outstanding views to Longs Peak and Twin Sisters.


The majority of the Fish Creek/Little Prospect Mountain Planning Area lies within Town boundaries. The upper portion of Prospect Mountain is an enclave not within Town boundaries. The eastern boundary of the planning area is not within Town boundaries. The southern boundary of the planning area is the existing Town boundary. The 18-hole municipal golf course is in the center of the planning area.

A wide variety of land uses are found within this planning area. On an acreage basis, single-family housing encompasses the largest area.

The northwest quadrant of the planning area, which includes the area west of Highway 7 and north of the golf course, includes very diverse uses. Large-lot single-family homes can be found north of the hospital on Little Prospect Mountain. Small-lot single-family residences and multi-family development exist east and south of the hospital. In the Commanche/Dunraven area, a service/industrial area is located. South of this area, the predominant land use once again returns to single-family residences. On both sides of Highway 7 from the US 36/Highway 7 intersection to Graves Avenue, there are highway commercial uses. The Estes Park Conference Center and Bureau of Reclamation power plant are also located here.

East of Highway 7 and north of the golf course, there is a wide variety of land uses. The Stanley Park Fairgrounds is located here, along with the Reclamation Subdivision small-lot single-family residential area and the museum adjacent to US 36. Farther east is the school campus adjacent to Lake Estes. To the west is a commercial area. North of the golf course are two condominium developments, a vacant tract, and a small 10+ acre single-family subdivision. To the south in Country Club Estates is a large-lot single-family subdivision which abuts the golf course.

The southwest quadrant, which includes the land west of Highway 7 and south and west of the golf course, consists mostly of single-family residential development. There is also a small industrial subdivision located here.

Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations 16.00 28.50 0.88
Agriculture 5.00 722.80 22.42
Commercial 88.00 64.94 2.01
Commercial Unimproved 18.00 11.98 0.37
Condominium 22.00 25.91 0.8
Duplex 5.00 1.49 0.05
Forest 1.00 157.55 4.89
Institutional 20.00 92.38 2.87
Multi-Family 53.00 27.43 0.85
Private Open Space 12.00 36.17 1.12
Public Open Space 32.00 387.21 12.01
Residential Unimproved 344.00 423.81 13.15
ROW 26.00 223.23 6.92
Single Family Residential 1146.00 986.92 30.61
null 50.00 33.43 1.04


Two main highway corridors are within the planning area. US 36 connects Estes Park to the south and east, extending to Lyons, Boulder and Denver. This is the primary route for visitors coming to Estes Park from the Boulder/Denver area. The road provides a very scenic drive as it climbs up from the Front Range to Estes Park. As the road enters Town, there is a major intersection with Highway 7, which is the second major highway located

within the planning area. US 36 then continues west, beyond the planning area, where it accesses downtown at the intersection with US 34. Local service is also provided for residents accessing the school campus and the Stanley Park area.

Highway 7 intersects US 36 in the northwest corner of the planning area, and bisects the planning area from north to south. Highway 7 serves as an arterial within the local street system. The highway serves as the primary means of north/south access. The only other continuous north/ south road is Fish Creek Road. Peak View Drive is classified as a collector road, and links the Marys Lake area with Highway 7.

Major transportation issues include providing pedestrian and bike crossings of Highway 7, providing for a better linkage from Moccasin Drive to Highway 7, realignment of some of the street intersections with Highway 7, and providing defined curb cuts on Highway 7.

Fish Creek and Fish Creek Road are important links in the trail system from the outlying residential areas to Lake Estes and the school campus. Prospect Mountain could also be a key component of a Town-wide trail system. The drainage from Marys Lake to Fish Creek is an important trail connection through town.


Redevelopment of the Stanley Park Fairgrounds could have a major impact on the overall community. It is anticipated that any redevelopment would enhance the visual appearance and be an asset to the community. Redevelopment of the Commanche/Dunraven area bears special consideration as a location for needed uses; however, as sites develop, compatibility with adjacent residential neighborhoods and accommodation uses needs to be addressed.

Widening of Highway 7 will require major reconstruction. There is currently a certain natural quality associated with Highway 7 which gives the impression of a small mountain road. This is due in part to the vegetation left intact next to the roadway, and the manner in which streets access the highway. Widening may remove vegetation, and in places require extensive earthwork. This may permanently change the character of the highway and of the Fish Creek/Little Prospect Mountain Planning Area. The Highway 7 project needs to include tree plantings and revegetation of the right-of-way.

Key Issues.

  1. The redevelopment and future direction of Stanley Park Fairgrounds needs to be evaluated.
  2. There is potential for impacts to wetlands adjacent to Fish Creek and within other drainages found in the planning area.
  3. Abundant wildlife is found within the planning area. The golf course is a prime viewing area for elk during the winter. Migration routes through the area need to be maintained.
  4. Steep slopes are found on the east and west boundaries of the site. Future development should not encroach within these areas to maintain the visual integrity of Estes Park.
  5. Prospect Mountain, which is a significant natural landmark within Estes Park, may experience development pressures.
  6. Two service/industrial land use areas for the town lie within this planning area. There are land use compatibility issues associated with the residential development adjacent to these areas. The service/industrial uses should not be displaced
Development Guidelines


The guidelines listed below are unique to the Fish Creek/Little Prospect Mountain area and are intended to address the various issues and concerns of the Fish Creek area which were identified throughout the future land use planning process.

FC 1. Hillside development standards and lot size standards which reflect topographic and natural features, road standards, building colors and materials are needed for the Fish Creek area and Prospect Mountain.

  • Any development on Prospect Mountain should be clustered and kept low on the mountain side.
  • The area east of Fish Creek should be maintained as low and very low density development.
FC 2. Develop and adopt an open space plan for the Fish Creek/Little Prospect Mountain area which designates future open space and trails, and methods of acquisition or preservation.
  • Development along Fish Creek Road should incorporate pedestrian/bike paths in order to provide key links and connections from Carriage Hills to the school campus.
  • A pedestrian/bike path should be developed on Peak View, from Highway 7 to Marys Lake Road, and on Fish Creek Road from Highway 36 to Scott Avenue.
  • The wetlands along Fish Creek Road should be preserved. This may require shared driveway access to lots in Carriage Hills.
  • Prospect Mountain and Crocker Ranch should be priorities for open space preservation.
FC 3. Prepare a plan for the Highway 7 corridor which clearly identifies common access points, streetscape improvements, signage guidelines, lighting standards, and private sector development standards.
  • Traffic circulation from Moccasin Drive to Highway 7 needs to be evaluated.
  • The curb cuts at Comanche/Dunraven need to be defined and redesigned.
  • The Comanche/Dunraven area provides a location for needed uses. As those properties redevelop, perimeter buffers should be created.
  • The commercial development on Highway 7 should extend no farther south than Graves Avenue.
  • The feasibility of burying the power lines from Mall Road to the power plant should be evaluated.
  • The feasibility of burying n the power lines on Prospect Mountain should be evaluated.
FC 4. Identify sites within the neighborhood for affordable housing.
  • The Reclamation Subdivision housing should be maintained. There should be no commercial encroachment.
  • The area around the school campus is suitable for affordable housing.
FC 5. Require that future development provide a visual buffering between adjacent residential uses.
  • Future development in the Acacia industrial area should provide for buffers/screening from the adjacent residential development. Performance standard criteria should be developed.
  • Commercial zoning should not be extended beyond that which currently exists.

The Fish Creek/Little Prospect Mountain - Future Land Use area includes a variety of single-family and multi-family residential uses, generally including less dense development patterns on the steep portions of the area and more intensive single-family and multi-family development closer to the community core. This area includes the widest variety of residential land use types, ranging from affordable, small, single-family lots to large estate lots.

This area also houses several institutional uses, including:

  • The community hospital,
  • The school campus,
  • A community golf course, and
  • Stanley Park.
Two largely undeveloped parcels within this area are important in shaping the area's future. Prospect Mountain should include only limited development, sensitive to the constraints associated with its steep slopes and high visibility. Crocker Ranch should only be developed for low density residential uses sensitive to environmental features such as wildlife and the Big Thompson River. Both Prospect Mountain and the Crocker Ranch should be priority open space areas.

Land Use Classification
Number of Improved Parcels
Improved Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 20 38.12 1.23
Commercial - C 92 42.62 1.37
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 531 322.41 10.36
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 313 517.01 16.62
Restricted Industrial - I1 11 15.76 0.51
Public/Semi-public - INS 26 95.13 3.06
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 61 69.48 2.23
Office - O 7 12.55 0.40
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 46 424.72 13.65
Residential - PUD-R 200 91.12 2.93
Residential: 1/4 acre min - R 364 79.86 2.57
Two Family: 27,000 S.F. min - R-2 39 19.55 0.63
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 122 1307.38 42.02
null 30 75.40 2.42

Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 18 36.94 2.27
Commercial - C 81 38.04 2.34
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 410 251.99 15.51
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 206 262.70 16.17
Restricted Industrial - I-1 6 13.65 0.84
Public/Semi-public - INS 26 95.13 5.86
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 57 58.97 3.63
Office - O 7 12.55 0.77
Residential - PUD-R 147 58.82 3.62
Residential: 1/4 acre min - R 305 66.21 4.08
Two Family: 27,000 S.F. min - R-2 36 17.21 1.06
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 99 636.92 39.21
null 30 75.40 4.64

Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 2 1.18 0.08
Commercial - C 11 4.58 0.31
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 121 70.42 4.74
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 107 254.31 17.11
Restricted Industrial - I-1 5 2.11 0.14
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 4 10.51 0.71
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 46 424.72 28.57
Residential - PUD-R 53 32.30 2.17
Residential: 1/4 acre min - R 59 13.65 0.92
Two Family: 27,000 S.F. min - R-2 3 2.34 0.16
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 23 670.46 45.10

Next chapter - Chapter 6-3 - Carriage Hills/Mary Lake

Background Image: Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson. All rights reserved.