Estes Park

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. 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. 

Pro Tips: Rocky Mountain National Park will have a timed-entry permit system in place from May–Oct. Learn how to get your timed-entry permit. A seasonal Bustang route can take you to Estes Park and the national park from downtown Denver from late May to early October. Additionally, the park will be running a Hiker Shuttle seven days a week from late May through early September and weekends through October. The shuttle runs from the Estes Park Visitor Center to the RMNP Park & Ride Transit Hub, where you can transfer to other park shuttles. A park-entrance pass and reservation for the Hiker Shuttle are needed. Learn more on the park's website.

Winter brings snow-covered slopes and cold-weather activities such as snowshoeing, sledding, ice climbing and even backcountry skiing. Through all seasons, the trails and streams beckon adventurers to fly fish, horseback ride, fat-bike and hone their photography skills.

With its scenic riverwalk and charming downtown, Estes offers vacationers ample activities. From boating on Lake Estes to soaring up the aerial tram, touring historical sites to savoring sips at local breweries and distilleries, this small mountain town doesn’t disappoint. While summer is 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. Frozen Dead Guy Days in March, which salutes a Norwegian man who was cryogenically frozen after his death in the late 1980s with coffin races, a costumed polar plunge and other icy entertainment, is one of Estes Park's most popular events.

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

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