This article discusses our hotel stay and visit to Estes Park for their biggest annual event, the highland games.
Estes Park and The Highland Festival
After an eventful weekend in Idaho, we made the 20-hour drive into Estes Park, Colorado. We attempted to make the trip in two and a half days (thank god for Redbull).
We were staying at Riverview Pines with Curt’s parents for the week. The quaint hotel was gorgeous and homey, with a river running through the property–visible from our hotel window–as well as a multitude of wildlife. It was the middle of rutting season, so the town was overrun with Elk, all fighting and bellowing to prove their strength.
The hotel had a daily visitor, a black bear whom the management had endearingly named Baby. Baby liked to frequent the trash in the early mornings so we knew we probably wouldn’t see him. But alas! He sauntered onto the grounds one night and we saw his furry little behind as he ran for the hills.
Estes park was a beautiful little town bordering the Three Sisters National Forest, which we had the pleasure of visiting. The town itself was at full capacity for its biggest festival of the year, The Highland Festival. The festival celebrates Scottish heritage and traditions, and brings in an average of 20,000 visitors each year for this one weekend.
Strongmen, Jousting, and Shepherd’s Pie
The venue grounds consisted of food booths, whiskey/scotch tasting tents, artisan tents, historical re-enactment areas, the highland games, and even more.
The festival hosts a variety of events from the highland strong man competition (aka the Highland Games), shepherding dog demonstrations, jousting, cannon firing, and an assortment of bands and musicians. We went to see the strong men and women compete in the keg toss, launching a full keg over their heads and over the measuring bar, going as high as 24 feet!
Our last event of the day was the joust. This wasn’t fake jousting either–this was bone breaking, ribcage-bruising, lance-cracking bravery. The audience flinched with each loud hit of the participants and cheered on every rider.
Arguably one of my favorite parts of the day was the food. Oh. My. Goodness. We are talking meat pies, haggis, blood pudding, turkey legs, fudge, pies, ice cream, fair food, and an assortment of fried goods.
We indulged in shepherd’s pie, which was so tasty that we grabbed a second helping to eat at home! Not to mention, we got to pair each dish with a beer. It was very hot and the beer was a welcome respite from the heat!