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Weekend Itinerary: Exploring Estes Park

Visitors to Estes Park, Colorado will delight in the sight of herds of elk, easy access to the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park, and the quaint downtown shopping and dining area. Only an hour and 20 minutes from Denver and a 55-minute drive from Boulder, this enchanting town with a relaxed mountain vibe and outdoor opportunities galore leaves visitors delighted, fulfilled, and ready for another visit.  

Photo courtesy of YMCA of the Rockies

Where to Stay

Lodging opportunities in and around Estes Park are vast. The family-friendly YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center, offers affordable, cozy cabins and lodge rooms with access to tons of activities, like swimming, roller skating, hiking, and arts and crafts. 

Photo courtesy of The Stanley Hotel

The historic Stanley Hotel sits majestically above the center of town with striking views of Long’s Peak, delicious dining and bar options, and beautiful grounds that invite guests to explore the 68-acre property and enjoy the scenery.  

Trailborn Rocky Mountains. Photo by Christian Harder.

For those who want a modern Rocky Mountain-style stay, the Trailborn Rocky Mountains has a communal fire pit, complimentary bikes, an outdoor pool, and an onsite café and bar. 

Where to Eat

Coffee addicts will love the certified organic and fair-trade java at Kind Coffee. Views of Lumpy Ridge (think iconic rocky cliffs) aren’t bad out of the tall storefront windows.

Photo courtesy of Kind Coffee

The Birds Nest is a bakery, café, and pizzeria with grab-and-go options that include picnic baskets for a day in the park. For those who crave craft beer and want to listen to live music, Avant Garde Aleworks is the place. 

Photo courtesy of Visit Estes Park/John Berry

Dinner at Bird & Jim is modern mountain dining from an ingredient-driven kitchen. Order a burger, a salad, or a cast iron-seared trout and enjoy with your pick from the tasty cocktail and wine menu.

Photo courtesy of Visit Estes Park/John Berry 

What to Do

Rocky Mountain National Park is an absolute must-see for visitors. There are multiple ways to access RMNP, but visitors should be aware of entrance fees at each access point. During the months of May through October, timed entry permits are required.  

Photo courtesy of Visit Estes Park/John Berry 

Lake Estes is the crowning entry point to this mountain town and a wonderful spot to take in the panoramic view of the Continental Divide. The 3.75-mile walking and biking loop connects to downtown and at Lake Estes Marina, visitors can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes.

Photo courtesy of Visit Estes Park/John Berry

Grab a souvenir and some taffy in downtown Estes Park with 200 independent retailers, restaurants, and attractions. 

Anglers will love the numerous areas to fly fish. The Big Thompson River, Fall River, and Glacier Creek are just a few hot spots. Check out Kirk’s Fly Shop or Estes Angler for all the pro tips and guided trips.

For more travel ideas, head to Visit Estes Park.

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