Estes Park, located about 90 miles northwest of Denver, right in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is one of the most beautiful areas of the country. It’s mountain terrain and mild temperatures make it the perfect town for both outdoor enthusiasts and those are just want to amble casually. Here are some things to do in Estes Park that you can add to your itinerary.
Things To Do In Estes Park, Colorado
Visit The Stanley Hotel
(If you dare)
This haunted hotel is the location where Stephen King wrote his famous book, turned film, The Shining. The Stanley Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a member of Historic Hotels of America, it’s fully operational and has been since it’s doors opened in 1909. You can visit the hotel for free, but they do offer a couple of special tours: The Stanley Tour and The Night Spirit Tour. During the Stanley Tour, you can learn about the original owner of the hotel, explore secret hallways not open to the public, learn secrets about The Shining, and more. If you like a bit more excitement, I recommend the Night Spirit Tour. This evening tour takes you to a few darkened spaces and introduces you to the “active” phenomena and spirit folklore surrounding The Stanley Hotel.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park spans the Continental Divide and encompasses protected mountains, forests, and alpine tundra. If you’re visiting Este’s Park from September to October, you’ll want to make sure to hear the Elk bugle. You can read more about that here. On a related note, some of the best “moose watching” can be done in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Just make sure to keep your distance as a moose can weigh up to 1500 pounds and can run at about 30 mph. They can be found in areas around lakes, ponds, and willow trees.
If you prefer to stay more in town, downtown Estes is worth taking a walk around. Although, you can’t really escape the wilderness here as you’ll often spot an Elk or two wandering around downtown as well. Maybe they’re hoping to get some shopping done? Speaking of shops, you’ll find a wide variety of shops and gallery’s, from whimsical to practical so you’ll be find anything you need (or don’t need). If you’re visiting during the warmer months, make sure to enjoy some patio seating at a local restaurant to get a panoramic view of the mountains, along with some great food and locally made wine. The best part about downtown Estes, all of the businesses are independently owned so you won’t find any chain stores.
Estes Park Aerial Tramway
The tram, located just southwest of Downtown Estes, can take you to the top of Prospect Mountain summit where you can enjoy views of the Rocky Mountains, the Continental Divide, and Estes Park village so make sure you bring along your camera! You can also enjoy hand feeding the birds and chipmunks! Adult tickets are only $14. This European-style cable car operates from the end of May until the beginning of September so plan your trip accordingly. Fun fact: you can even get married at the top of the summit!
If you’re visiting Estes Park in the summer, make sure to spend a day at Lake Estes to catch some rays and enjoy the mountain air. You can visit the Marina to rent anything from a one-person kayak to a ten-person pontoon to cruiser bikes. You can also purchase fishing licenses, fishing supplies, and snacks/beverages. There’s also a small beach area in which you can play some sand volleyball and horseshoes, as well as some picnic areas.
Bonus: What To Pack For A Trip To Estes Park
A Hiking Backpack
Planning on spending most of your time in The Rocky Mountain National Park? I don’t blame you but you’ll need a durable hiking backpack to carry everything you’ll possibly need. I can’t recommend this TETON sports backpack enough.
These hiking boots by Chaco are rugged enough to wear on the trails but cute enough to wear for a day on the town. I would advise ordering a half size larger than your normal shoe size.
Pickpockets aren’t as big as a threat in Estes Park as they are in London or Paris, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This Travelon Crossbody bag keeps your belongings safe while being a stylish touch to any outfit.
Lonely Planet Guidebook
I love referring to Lonely Planet guidebooks while planning a trip or during a trip, they’re always an amazing source of inspiration. While Estes Park has yet to have its own guidebook, Lonely Planet’s Colorado Travel Guide is still a good thing to pack in your bag.
Insulated Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is extremely important, whether you’re out hiking or walking around downtown. This insulated, stainless steel water bottle can keep your beverage cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. That’s pretty amazing.