Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson

Estes Valley Plan

Planning Area 4 - Spur 66


The topography within Planning Area 4 is a narrow river valley with steeply sloping hillsides, opening up to a wider river valley in the upper reaches of the planning area. The eastern boundary of the planning area is formed by a ridge line, and includes the top of Giantrack Mountain. It continues south to include Rams Horn Mountain and Teddy's Teeth. The southeastern corner of the planning area includes the ridge line of Lily Mountain.

The southern boundary includes Thunder Mountain and the steep mountainside which defines the end of the Aspen Brook drainage. The mountains have less vertical relief to the west. The planning area extends to the boundary of RMNP.

Elevations in this planning area range from approximately 7,650 feet above sea level at the lowest portion of the planning area, to approximately 9,700 feet at the peak of Lily Mountain.

There is a wide diversity of vegetation within the area. Along the valley bottoms, adjacent to the streams, is a riparian ecosystem. Willow, cottonwoods, and associated understory can be found here, with pine and spruce in the well drained soils. In the upper reaches of the valley, where the valley broadens, there are open meadows with groves of aspen. The aspen changes to pine, spruce and fir as the elevation increases. The north and east facing slopes are generally heavily forested, Giantrack Mountain, which faces west in the planning area, is sparsely covered with trees.

The main drainage, which is in the lower portion of the planning area, is the Big Thompson River. This river originates in RMNP. Wind River flows north and east, and also originates in RMNP. A small tributary, Aspen Brook, flows into Wind River from the southeast.

There is abundant wildlife found in the planning area. Deer, elk , bear, mountain lion, and beaver all frequent the area. With RMNP forming the west, south and a portion of the north boundary of the area, migration through the planning area is extensive.

Due to the topography within this planning area, the viewsheds are well defined, and contained to the planning area itself. There are some limited views to the west into Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Windcliff Estates area presents a strong visual intrusion from the upper areas of the planning area. Due to the steep topography and lack of vegetation, the extensive roadcuts and homes located on the hillside present a strong visual contrast to the surrounding area and are visible from within RMNP.


Development is limited due to topographical constraints. However, existing zoning could permit very intensive uses. Along the valley bottoms, adjacent to the waterways, there are accommodation uses, limited commercial establishments, and residential development. Single-family residential development occurs in the upper sections of the planning area. Windcliff Estates is located within the planning area, along with Thunder Mountain Estates.

The most intensive land use within the planning area is YMCA of the Rockies. The facility is separated from the road, and is only visible from limited locations along the roadway. The YMCA is also an important economic component within the Estes Valley.

The Spur 66 Planning Area is bordered on the west and south by RMNP. Development immediately adjacent to Park boundaries can affect the quality of the Park. The National Park Service is taking an active role in planning outside its boundaries to insure the quality of the quality of the Park is maintained. There is a camping facility at the end of Spur 66.

Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations 50.00 846.05 32.74
Agriculture 2.00 235.89 9.13
Commercial 18.00 31.69 1.23
Commercial Unimproved 7.00 63.60 2.46
Condominium 14.00 29.25 1.13
Institutional 4.00 70.79 2.74
Multi-Family 5.00 2.90 0.11
Private Open Space 27.00 150.91 5.84
Public Open Space 5.00 270.13 10.45
Residential Unimproved 117.00 233.45 9.03
ROW 13.00 73.42 2.84
Single Family Residnetial 270.00 556.67 21.54
null 32.00 19.52 0.76


Future growth and development of the YMCA property will occur. Development of this area needs to be sensitive to the surrounding property owners, as well as responding to concerns of the National Park Service.

Redevelopment of some of the uses at the entrance of the planning area will visually improve visitors' and residents' images of the entire planning area.

Key Issues.

  1. The YMCA Camp is a significant attraction in the area, and impacts of future development must be considered on the surrounding area. The highway frontage of the YMCA property is an important buffer/visual/environmental element.
  2. Windcliff Estates presents a strong visual impact from the YMCA Camp and other areas.
  3. The potential impacts of additional mountainside development on steep slopes, and development on forested and unforested areas, needs to be addressed.
  4. Accommodations immediately adjacent to the river are generally small scale and create an identity in the planning area. Future development should maintain and enhance the established character.
  5. The vegetation along the roadways, drainageways, and hillsides is an important visual asset within the planning area.
  6. Important trail connections can be developed between the Town of Estes Park and RMNP. Specifically, connections may be developed at the historic entrance to the Park, and from the Lily Lake Visitors Center west into the Park.
  7. This area is primarily zoned for Tourist use. This zoning is not compatible with the planning area, both in terms of environment and land use compatibility.
  8. The visual character of the street scene at the entry to Spur 66 is viewed by many residents as a problem which must be addressed.
Development Guidelines


The guidelines listed below are unique to Spur 66 and are intended to address the various issues, of Spur 66 which were identified throughout the future land use planning process.

SP 1. Prepare a streetscape plan for Spur 66.

  • The entrance to the Spur needs to redevelop into more compatible uses with an appropriate streetscape.
  • The Town of Estes Park should annex out to the YMCA.
  • Commercial uses should not be extended along the Spur. They should be contained within their existing locations.
  • New accommodations should be residential in character.
SP 2. The riparian system in this planning area provides important wildlife habitat and needs protection.

SP 3. Develop landscape and architectural design standards for Spur 66 which specify appropriate building materials, colors, building height, massing, bulk, site development, and landscape standards.

  • Maintain the character of the Spur by setting buildings well back from the roadway.
  • Development standards need to be added to the T-Tourist and A-Accommodations zoning districts which address density, and use compatibility. As an alternative, a new zoning district(s) should be developed for the Spur.
  • Site design, architectural, fencing, and lighting standards are needed.
SP 4. Require that non-conforming uses within Spur 66 renovate or remove the use or structure.
  • A mechanism should be adopted which triggers property cleanup and maintenance.
  • The campground at the portal should not be expanded. Campgrounds should be limited to the existing number.
SP 5. Identify site within Spur 66 that may be appropriate for future affordable housing development.
  • The commercial campground at the Spur 66 Park entrance intersection should evolve into housing.
SP 6. Protect and conserve unique and critical natural resource areas within the Spur 66 area.
  • The YMCA frontage should be protected as open space. The YMCA should release a master plan illustrating future development.

The Spur 66 area borders Rocky Mountain National Park and is generally composed of low density residential development and accommodation uses. Accommodation uses are generally located along the roadway. Future development will need to be sensitive to the Big Thompson River.

This area also includes the YMCA conference grounds, a unique community resource which provides a transition to Rocky Mountain National Park. The sensitive development of this area is important.

The Spur 66 planning area contains lands adjacent to the major entry to Rocky Mountain National Park. The sensitive redevelopment of this area is important to promote a transition between the Park and the Valley.

Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 85 921.23 35.83
Accommodations: Low Density - A-1 121 387.15 15.06
Commercial - C 6 19.43 0.76
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 12 7.55 0.29
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 182 158.56 6.17
Public/Semi-public - INS 6 72.31 2.81
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 52 41.54 1.62
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 34 427.91 16.64
Residential - PUD-R 49 34.99 1.36
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 56 431.94 16.80
null 12 68.44 2.66

Land Use Classification
Number of Improved Parcels
Improved Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 74 850.34 55.06
Accommodations: Low Density - A-1 98 235.54 15.25
Commercial - C 5 15.67 1.01
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 7 4.12 0.27
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 131 120.82 7.82
Public/Semi-public - INS 3 1.65 0.11
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 20 38.87 2.52
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 1 2.65 0.17
Residential - PUD-R 31 22.22 1.44
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 41 184.04 11.92
null 12 68.44 4.43

Land Use Classification
Number of Vacant Parcels
Vacant Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 11 70.89 6.90
Accommodations: Low Density - A-1 23 151.61 14.77
Commercial - C 1 3.76 0.37
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 5 3.43 0.33
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 51 37.74 3.68
Public/Semi-public - INS 3 70.66 6.88
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 32 2.67 0.26
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 33 425.26 41.42
Residential - PUD-R 18 12.77 1.24
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 15 247.90 24.15

Next chapter - Chapter 6-5 - Beaver Point

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