Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson

Estes Valley Plan

Planning Area 5 - Beaver Point


The topography within the planning area is generally flat adjacent to the Big Thompson River and gently rolling as the distance increases from the river. The southern boundary of the planning area is Prospect Mountain, which is extremely steep. The northwest corner of the planning area is Deer Ridge, also extremely steep.

The Big Thompson River runs from west to east, dividing the planning area into two areas of relatively equal size. The northern half of the planning area has a southern aspect, with the boundary to the north being Deer Ridge. The southern half of the planning area faces north to the Big Thompson River with a view of the Elm Road commercial area and Lumpy Ridge. Adjacent to Marys Lake in the southwest corner of the planning area, the topography gently drops down to the river.

The lowest elevation in the planning area is the Big Thompson River, near downtown, where the elevation is approximately 7,560 feet. The highest elevation is the top of Prospect Mountain at approximately 8,900 feet.

Typical riparian vegetation, including cottonwood and willow, is found along the Big Thompson River. The north-facing slope of Prospect Mountain is heavily wooded. There are clusters of pine found along Deer Ridge. Most of the area is open meadow, with dry land grasses found in the meadow areas.

Prospect Mountain is the dominant landmark within the planning area. There are small rock outcroppings located on Deer Ridge in the northwest corner of the planning area.

As in all other planning areas, wildlife is abundant. Elk and deer migrate freely between the Park and the planning area. Wildlife is most notable on and close to the ridge lines which make up the northern and southern boundaries of the planning areas.

There is a very important viewshed located in the Beaver Point Planning Area, relating to the primary entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, located immediately west of the planning area. As one approaches the entrance from the east, a panoramic view of the meadowland of the Park is in the foreground, and the peaks of the Park form the background. The view is relatively open, with small pods of commercial development along the highway. This view of a predominantly natural setting is the first impression of the National Park and degradation of this view will impact the perception of the Park.


A small portion of the planning area along US 36 is in the Town limits. The large majority of land is under the jurisdiction of Larimer County.

A variety of land uses are found within the planning area. Highway commercial uses are located along US 36 from downtown to the Beaver Point intersection. Generally, once off the US 36 corridor, the area is predominantly composed of residential uses. The primary exception is the Elm Road area, which consists of Town/County/State vehicle maintenance shops, gravel mining, service commercial uses, the former landfill, and the transfer station and recycling center buildings. The mining operation and buildings are most noticeable from Marys Lake Road heading north into the planning area. Many of the single-family homes south of the Big Thompson River look directly across to this area.

There are two issues relating to compatibility within the Beaver Point Planning Area. The first concerns the industrial uses previously described. The industrial uses are immediately east of single family homes, creating conflict between these different uses; however, there is a significant grade change between the uses. Of greater concern is the visual compatibility of the industrial uses with the large number of homes that look across the Valley directly into the area. Screening could potentially mitigate the visual impacts.

Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations 40.00 77.15 3.67
Agriculture 8.00 84.50 4.02
Commercial 51.00 63.89 3.04
Commercial Unimproved 8.00 56.71 2.70
Condominium 4.00 6.04 0.29
Institutional 14.00 41.77 1.99
Multi-Family 9.00 31.96 1.52
Public Open Space 3.00 47.08 2.24
Residential Unimproved 207.00 604.44 28.75
ROW 35.00 80.94 3.85
Single Family Residential 786.00 997.08 47.43
null 13.00 10.59 0.50

There are several large, undeveloped parcels within the planning area that could impact its existing character. One parcel is adjacent to US 36, on the south side. It is approximately one third of the way between the existing downtown and the Park entrance. The land is gently sloping, dropping gently from the highway to the Big Thompson River and is large enough to accommodate a wide variety of uses. The property is currently zoned commercial.

Another area which could have a large impact on the character of the area lies directly north of US 36, across from the parcel previously described. The site rises gradually from the highway up to the top of Deer Ridge, and then drops gently to the downtown area, in the Fall River Road Planning Area. Any development here will significantly alter the open character of the area, thus impacting the "front door" to RMNP.

The Beaver Point Planning Area is bordered on the west by the main entrance to RMNP. The importance of maintaining the integrity of this entrance to the Park cannot be overstated. Immediately inside the Park boundaries to the south is employee housing. Just beyond this is the Visitors Center.


The primary highway corridor within the planning area is US 36 which bisects the planning area east to west. East of the planning area U.S. 36 accesses downtown Estes Park. To the west, the highway splits, with Spur 66 accessing the YMCA of the Rockies and several residential areas before dead-ending. The northern road is the main entrance to RMNP.

US 36 is an arterial through the planning area. Heavy traffic leaving the Park heading east into town occurs regularly in the afternoon during peak tourist season. Marys Lake Road serves as another arterial through the planning area. The local street system serves as a collector road within the planning area, providing access for the residential development south of US 36 and into the downtown area.

For several years, a US 36/US 34 street connection has been discussed. The location for this street has been focused on the Elm Road area. Access control along US 36 is poor and undefined. The unlimited access creates a safety problem.

There are mixed trails within the planning area. There have been discussions of continuing the Riverwalk, located in the downtown area, west along the Big Thompson River to the entrance to the Park. Informal surveys of property owners along the river have indicated a strong desire not to allow public access along the river.

The Beaver Point Planning Area is the main gateway to RMNP. It is important to the future image of the Park, as well as the town, that future development within the planning area, and especially along the US 36 corridor, be in keeping with the natural setting of Estes Park.

Key Issues.

  1. It is essential to maintain a high quality entrance to RMNP. The main entrance to RMNP lies within the planning area. It is very important that this area remain as uncluttered as possible. Some of the land uses along the US 36 corridor are incompatible with the primary entrance to RMNP.
  2. Several large, undeveloped parcels exist on both sides of US 36. If these are developed in inappropriate ways, they will have a significant impact on the entrance to RMNP.
  3. There are currently expansive viewsheds from within the planning area into RMNP. It is important to the Town of Estes Park, as well as to the Park, that these views be maintained.
  4. There are times when traffic congestion is severe between the National Park and downtown.
  5. The Big Thompson River flows out of RMNP and through the planning area. A portion of the area is undeveloped, and provides the opportunity to utilize the river as a strong amenity.
  6. A gravel mining operation and other visually intrusive land uses exist along the south slope of Deer Ridge, and degrade the view for visitors and residents traveling north on the road between Marys Lake and Beaver point.
  7. The north side of Prospect Mountain consists of steep slopes which are visually prominent from most locations within the planning area. Development in this area would impact visual quality. Prospect Mountain is also a significant natural landmark within the entire Estes Valley.
  8. Opportunities exist to create trail links along the Big Thompson River, over Deer Ridge to Fall River Road, to downtown, to the Park, and to the YMCA.
  9. Many developments along US 36 have uncontrolled access, creating unsafe and unsightly conditions.
  10. Vehicular connections between US 34 and US 36 needs to be addressed.
  11. A streetscape plan for the US 36 corridor needs to be implemented.
Development Guidelines


The guidelines listed below are unique to the Beaver Point sub-area and are intended to address the various issues of Beaver Point which were identified throughout the future land use planning process.

BP1. Develop a Highway 36 streetscape plan and architectural standards.

  • A streetscape program addressing landscaping and curb cuts, pedestrian and bike access, signage, lighting, and private development standards needs to be implemented from Crags Drive to Marys Lake Road.
  • A pedestrian/bike path system should be developed along Highway 36 to the Park entrance.
  • Piccadilly Square needs traffic control and a master plan for the area.
  • Development along Highway 36 should be low profile to protect the views to the Continental Divide.
  • Reduce sign clutter along Highway 36 and require monument signs.
  • As development/redevelopment occurs, require highway frontage streetscape improvements (e.g., defined access points, landscaping.)
  • Prohibit metal buildings along Highway 36.
  • Develop bulk/plane regulations for Highway 36 in order to protect the panoramic views into Rocky Mountain National Park.
BP 2. Require that future development proposals within the Beaver Point area complement and reinforce the Future Land Use Plan.
  • The T-Tourist zoning in this planning are should be eliminated. Pockets of A-Accommodations in E-Estate districts should be eliminated, except where existing accommodations are located.
  • The area at the northeast corner of Marys Lake Road and Highway 36 needs to be cleaned up and redeveloped into neighborhood commercial uses.

Beaver Point includes the main vehicular link from the center of the community to Rocky Mountain National Park. Along this portion of Highway 36, sensitive redevelopment of existing commercial uses will be important. Redevelopment should provide defined access, streetscape improvements, landscaping, pedestrian/bike paths, and careful treatment of the Big Thompson River.

The area contains industrial and gravel mining uses, the former landfill, governmental maintenance shops, and service commercial. Reclamation of the mining uses over time will be important, and it is likely that some of the reclaimed area may be utilized in the future for commercial and light industrial use.

Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 31 55.45 2.59
Accommodations: Low Density - A-1 68 158.45 7.39
Commercial - C 41 59.55 2.78
Commercial Recreation - CR 3 22.92 1.07
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 361 180.07 8.40
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 408 413.03 19.27
Giant Track Study Area - GT_stdy 36 50.43 2.35
Restricted Industrial - I1 41 58.27 2.72
Public/Semi-public - INS 7 17.56 0.82
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 5 29.53 1.38
Office - O 1 1.93 0.09
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 5 55.35 2.58
Residential - PUD-R 20 10.10 0.47
Residential: 1/4 acre min - R 11 1.37 0.06
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 129 786.88 36.71
Rural Estate: 10 acre min. - RE-1 12 161.14 7.52
null 36 81.26 3.79
Land Use Classification
Number of Parcels
Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 29 43.82 3.14
Accommodations: Low Density - A-1 43 92.79 6.65
Commercial - C 37 56.60 4.06
Commercial Recreation - CR 3 22.92 1.64
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 290 145.38 10.42
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 350 313.97 22.50
Giant Track Study Area - GT_stdy 30 40.59 2.91
Restricted Industrial - I1 35 50.59 3.63
Public/Semi-public - INS 7 17.56 1.26
Multi Family: 3-8 du/acre - MF 5 29.53 2.12
Office - O 1 1.93 0.14
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 4 9.22 0.66
Residential - PUD-R 20 10.10 0.72
Residential: 1/4 acre min - R 11 1.37 0.10
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 90 361.06 25.88
Rural Estate: 10 acre min. - RE-1 8 116.53 8.35
null 36 81.26 5.82
Land Use Classification
Number of Vacant Parcels
Vacant Acres by Classification
Percentage of Total
Accommodations - A 2 11.63 1.55
Accommodations: Low Density - A-1 25 65.66 8.78
Commercial - C 4 2.95 0.39
Estate: 1/2 acre min. - E 71 34.69 4.64
Estate: 1 acre min. - E-1 58 99.06 13.24
Giant Track Study Area - GT_stdy 6 9.84 1.32
Restricted Industrial - I1 6 7.68 1.03
Parks/Recreation/Open Space - PR 1 46.13 6.17
Rural Estate: 2 1/2 acre min - RE 39 425.82 56.92
Rural Estate: 10 acre min. - RE-1 4 44.61 5.96

Next chapter - Chapter 6-6 - Fall River Road

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