Outdoor recreation abounds in Estes Park, located only 70 miles from Denver. Surrounded by the protected lands of Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest, there is no limit to the types or levels of Colorado adventures you can have here.
Known as the base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park, the mountain village of Estes Park offers all the modern amenities you need with the mountain flare and hometown hospitality you’re looking for. Estes Park has a reputation for unique wilderness activities, which means you’ll find the local experts, the right gear and the guided excursions to get both the novice and the pro out exploring. In the summer and fall, camping, hiking, cycling, rock climbing and water sports, such as stand-up paddle boarding and whitewater rafting, are available in Estes Park and nearby areas.
Winter brings snow-covered slopes and cold-weather activities such as snowshoeing, sledding, ice climbing and even backcountry skiing – all in the amazing beauty of real wilderness! Through all seasons the trails and streams beckon adventurers to fly fish, horseback ride, fat-bike and hone their photography skills.
Without lodging, dining or shopping inside the national park, a designated Wilderness Area, travelers spend much of their time experiencing the village. With its scenic Riverwalk, charming downtown and many attractions, Estes offers vacationers ample activities. From boating on Lake Estes to soaring up the aerial tram, touring historic sites to savoring sips at local breweries & distilleries, this small mountain town doesn’t disappoint. While summer is certainly prime season, there are special events, concerts and festivals throughout the year. In autumn, aspens glow golden, fall festivals commence and the whole town celebrates the elk rut, or mating rituals, where the bull elk bugle and spar as they compete for mating rights.
Estes Park is also a wonderful winter respite for snow activities, soaking in a hot tub and attending unique winter celebrations. Rocky Mountain National Park is the main attraction to this scenic valley. Trail Ridge Road, a designated national scenic byway and the highest continuous paved highway in America, takes travelers on a journey through an alpine wonderland. Wildlife encounters are a daily occurrence, especially sightings of the majestic elk that forage in grassy meadows. Despite the popularity of the park, solitude can be found any time of year as explorers venture away from the roads and along the trails. Ask a park ranger for ideas, and they’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction.
If you're looking to get to Estes Park from Denver or vice versa, you can take the Bustang from Denver's Union Station. From there it stops in Westminster at U.S. 36 and Sheridan Boulevard before ending at the Estes Park Visitor Center. The round-trip ticket is $10 and the bus runs seasonally.
Photo credits: Elk in Estes Park, Darcy Kiefel; Boulder at Marys Lake, Darcy Kiefel; American Indian dancers at Estes Park Elk Fest, Ohara Photography; Horseback riding in Rocky Mountain National Park, Darren Edwards; Winter in Estes Park, Allen Kennedy; rest of images, Visit Estes Park