Follow along with the story of Isabella Bird as she explores Estes Park, before it was cool. Hear how Isabella Bird and Jim Nugent (or: Rocky Mountain Jim) live on through Melissa Strong’s adored restaurant, Bird & Jim and through her recovery from a near-death experience. Use this as a resource for our first episode of Exploring Estes, with many more to come. But listen first wherever you get your podcasts. 

Of course, Bird and Jim should be the first thing on this list... stop in not only for the delicious food but also for the (free!) views. You can sip on a Mountain Margarita or local brews and whiskey. Make a reservation and check out their menu here. If you spot Melissa, tell her you loved her episode! 

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I know what you’re thinking, "Isabella climbed Longs Peak in a silk dress and boots??" We don’t suggest that nowadays. Being one of the hardest fourteeners, it’s not for the faint of heart. Rest easy and hire a guiding service to show you the best route and strategy. 

Historian Jim Pickering, who is featured on the episode, has a book called This Blue Hollow: Estes Park, the Early Years, 1859-1915, which goes more in depth about what you heard in this episode. He details the development of Estes, the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park, the lives of “Rocky Mountain Jim”, Isabella Bird, Earl of Dunraven, the conquest of Longs Peak, the first explorations of high and remote places and more. Check it out.

Isabella Bird & Horse

If you’re a more interactive learner, visit the Estes Park Museum for in depth exhibits about the establishment and strength of Estes Park detailing our Estes icons, the trials of floods and fires and more. Plan your visit here.

As you heard, Isabella Bird loved to ride horses. At that time, it was standard for women to ride side-saddle. She was, believe it or not, not standard and chose to ride her horse head-on and would travel for countless miles. Want to ride on the same trails she did? Horseback riding outfitters offer rides from 1-hour to 8-hour to overnight with a range of perks that could include a steak dinner or a fishing trip! 

Obviously, we love this story. Here are seven reasons why we think Isabella Bird should be your new role model, if she’s not already.


Book your trip to Estes Park now.