Estes Park’s first state champion tree, a balsam poplar (Populus Balsamifera) stands just a few steps outside Redemption’s door on an easily accessible open bank of the Big Thompson River. The rest of its family grove extends along the river with three that grace the Inn’s property.
Many things make a tree notable—its size, its character, its place in history. Some, such as state champion trees, are recognized by a community. The trunk of this gnarly old tree measures 132 inches in circumference, giving it a diameter of 3.5 feet. Its height is 58 feet, and it has an average crown spread of 37 feet. That adds up to 199.25 points in the system used to determine the “official” size of a tree.
Balsam Poplar is the most common deciduous tree in Canada. It reaches its southern limit in Colorado. They are more common in RMNP than in the Estes Valley. They are related to cottonwoods and aspen. The second-place balsam poplar is located along the Fern Lake Trail.
A state forester estimated the age of this tree to be 150 years. A seedling in the 1850s, it has witnessed generations of people making life on our outerbanks in different & interesting ways, beginning with the Arapahos and Utes.
If you visit our Champ, pinch a leaf bud. At times, it has a real spicy smell. [Credit: Town of Estes Park web site.] Check out the size of its trunk on this snowy pic to the right. It was framed looking upstream as the river makes its last bend toward RiverBend Inn.