The Rocky Mountain National Park area was first inhabited by man approximately 10,000 years ago. Because of the climate, cold winters and mild summers, the area developed into hunting grounds for various tribes, such as the Arapahoe and the Ute. The valleys and meadows, which were created by glaciers many years before, produced the ideal environment for elk, moose, antelope, bighorn sheep, bear, deer, beaver, ptarmigan, eagles, and many other kinds of wildlife.
Lt. Zebulon Pike, in 1806, was one of the first known white men to explore the Western Rockies. By 1860, the first inhabitant to live in the park was Joel Estes, for whom the town of Estes Park was named. He sold his ranch which was near the junction of Fish Creek and the Big Thompson River in 1866. By 1867, the Estes property was acquired by Griffith Evans, a Welshman. He was the first colonizer of this area and remained a permanent settler until around 1887. In 1872, Lord Dunraven visited Estes Park on a hunting trip. By 1874, his holdings had been sold to a Mr. Sandborn and a Mr. Stanley, the inventor of the Stanley Steamer. In the following years, Mr. Stanley and Enos Mills promoted Estes Park and the surrounding area. In 1915, Congress passed a bill creating the Rocky Mountain National Park. All ten previous parks had been created for the same purpose, which was to continue the natural state of the environment and to perpetuate America’s natural heritage.
Today, the Rocky Mountain National Park has an area of 415 square miles, 395 miles of hiking trails, 107 peaks over 11,000 feet — the highest being Longs Peak at 14,255 — over 900 plant species, 250 types of birds, 60 species of mammals, and some of the most beautiful scenery in America, much of which can be viewed from Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous highway in the United States.
The Sundeck Restaurant continues as a family operation since its establishment at its present location in 1948 by Mr. & Mrs. Fred Hoerner. Their desire was to locate where people could enjoy a quality meal with a superb view. From the windows of the Sundeck, one can see the higher peaks of Twin Sisters, Taylor, Otis, Hallet, and Flattop. Prospect, Gianttrack, Rams Horn, Eagle Cliff, and Deer Mountain are a few of the closer, lower mountains. For the past sixty-four years, the Sundeck has served a variety of dishes. The Sundeck has become famous for its Rocky Mountain Trout, Forelle Blau, Viennese Goulash, Prime Rib, and Chilies Rellenos. At all times, we have made a great effort to use the finest quality of food and prepare a meal as original as possible.
Enjoy your vacation in the Park and please help us keep it clean and beautiful.