Things to do in Estes Park

Things to do in  Estes Park

Rocky Mountain refinement

A quintessential Colorado mountain town, Estes Park is also the gateway to the natural wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park, famous for its abundance of elk and other wildlife. Estes Park makes an ideal base camp for outdoor adventure, with a charming downtown area filled with shops and restaurants, plus lodging options for any budget. Things to do in Estes Park over summer span hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking, while winter is a perfect time for snowshoeing, scenic drives, and cozying up at the legendary Stanley Hotel.

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All about Estes Park

When to visit

Though Estes Park is a year-round destination, the short answer on when to visit is fall. Summer—starting in June—is good, too, but that’s when the crowds are at their peak. In fall (September–October), you’ll get more elbow room and mild temperatures; if you time it right, you may also get to see the elk migration and the aspens turning gold. Trail Ridge Road, the main road through Rocky Mountain National Park, is typically open through much of October.

Getting around

It is surprisingly easy to get around Estes Park without a car—at least in summer. That’s when the town operates a robust free shuttle system that goes around downtown, through the outskirts, and even to Rocky Mountain National Park. If the park is your destination, you can hop on shuttles at the Estes Park Visitor Center to the areas around Bear Lake and Moraine Park.

Traveler tips

Though most visitors will stay in Estes Park for the purpose of visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, don’t overlook the town itself—beyond the shops, galleries, and restaurants, there’s a lovely Riverwalk, the Estes Park Museum, and events like summer’s Rooftop Rodeo, Elk Fest in fall, and the Estes Park Winter Festival. There are also fantastic (and quieter) trails in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, adjacent to the park.

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People Also Ask

What is Estes Park known for?

Estes Park is known for being the base camp to Rocky Mountain National Park—the popular Beaver Meadows Entrance, on the park’s east side, is less than four miles from town. Estes Park is also known for its incredible wildlife, namely the large herd of elk that migrate through town each year.

How do you spend a day at Estes Park?

Many visitors to Estes Park will spend their day exploring nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. (The popular Beaver Meadows entrance is less than four miles from town.) In Estes Park proper, there are plenty of options for dining and shopping downtown, as well as the Estes Park Riverwalk, and more.

Why is Estes Park so popular?

Estes Park makes a great base for visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Because of its proximity to the national park, gorgeous surroundings, and relatively easy access from Denver, Estes Park has become favorited by tourists. It has great restaurant and lodging options, too.

Is Estes Park too touristy?

Compared to Grand Lake—the town on Rocky Mountain National Park’s western side—Estes Park is much more touristy. That said, it’s more touristy for a reason: It has excellent lodging and dining options, easy access to Denver and Interstate 25, and close proximity to Rocky Mountain’s popular Beaver Meadows entrance.

How much time should I spend at Estes Park?

Many visitors use the town as a base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park, usually spending two or three days in the park itself. Others will explore this quintessential mountain town on a weekend, dining and shopping downtown, exploring local sites, and more.

Is Estes Park worth visiting?

Yes, absolutely. Besides being a base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park (with a popular park entrance less than four miles from town), Estes Park is a quintessential Colorado mountain town. At an elevation of 7,522 feet (2,293 meters), it boasts great dining and shopping, a pretty riverwalk, great wildlife viewing, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions
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