A Mountain Boyhood Estes Park was hardly more than a post office in 1899, when young Joe Mills first saw Colorado's Front Range. A would-be Robinson Crusoe, Joe scaled peaks, watched wild animals, hunted and trapped, and generally roughed it in the region that would become Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915. A Mountain Boyhood, the true story of his adventures there, is as rich in human as in natural history. Joe meets a colorful bunch of early settlers, living for a while with a circuit-riding parson who operates a ranch. He learns campcraft and nature lore, crosses Flattop Mountain on snowshoes in midwinter to socialize, and builds a log cabin near Longs Peak (the fireplace still stands). Joe Mills arrived far enough ahead of the sportsmen and tourists to serve them later as a seasoned guide, and, along with his brother, Enos Mills, the naturalist and writer, he was instrumental in establishing the area as a playground for the nation.