If you’re visiting Rocky Mountain National Park be sure to spend some time in the bustling gateway community of Estes Park, Colorado. It is a beautiful mountain town nestled into the Rocky Mountains at the East Entrance to the park. From shopping and dining, hiking, fishing, museums and beyond, there is a lot to do and see in Estes Park!
Here is a list of our six favorite Estes Park activities:
1. Rocky Mountain Day Hike
Some of the best hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park is right out of town. Strike out on your own or join The Wildland Trekking Company on an organized group hike. Glacier Gorge and Bear Lake pack the most bang for the buck, just a 25-minute drive from town, you’ll enjoy spectacular subalpine scenery. But there are many other options as well in Wild Basin, across Trail Ridge Road and other areas – read on for our top recommendations.
The best Rocky Mountain National Park day hikes to do from Estes Park are:
1. Glacier Gorge – this easy access, stunning area is one of the most popular areas for day hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can make it an amazing hike in 3-4 miles or as many as 10-12. Alpine lakes, waterfalls, views of the peaks and more await in this region. This trail is available as a guided hike.
2. Chasm Lake – Chasm Lake offers willing adventurers the opportunity to do a longer hike (8-10 miles) and really give the lungs a work out. The lake itself sits below Longs Peak, Colorado’s most famous summit. This trail is available as a guided hike.
3. Longs Peak – Doing Longs Peak as a day hike is a serious adventure for the super fit, and also an adventure worth training for. As the name implies, your destination is the summit of Longs (14,259′) and takes you through stunning mountain country for the entire journey. It’s a long day of 12-14 hours and nearly 13 miles of hiking, but well worth it if you’re up for it. This trail is available as a guided hike. Longs Peak is also available as a guided backpacking trip.
4. Mount Chiquita – Mount Chiquita is a 13er with relatively straight forward access from Old Fall River Road. It’s a fun hike with incredible views, and while it will give your lungs and legs a solid workout, it’s quite a bit less demanding than Longs Peak. This trail is available as a guided hike.
2. Ghost and History Tour
The Stanley Hotel, one of the Historic Hotels of America, holds 90-minute Ghost and History Tours (day and nighttime tours). The 100+ year old hotel has a haunted 4th floor, secret passages for servants, and was the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in The Shining by Stephen King. Look at their website to book tours and for special events held on occasion.
Fly fishing is a long-standing Colorado pastime. Hire a local outfitter in town and learn something new or refine existing skills. Wade in clear waters among beautiful scenery and picnic creek-side, for either a half or full day excursion, and hopefully catch that trophy trout.
Fly fishing can be done on your own or with a fishing guide. Either way a fishing license is required, although most guide companies include it in the package. We strongly recommend going with Estes Angler for your guided fly fishing trip.
4. Baldpate Inn
Get a taste of Estes Park’s history from this 1911 homestead site. Over the years, it became an Inn and the site for the world’s largest key collection housing over 20,000 keys such as Mozart’s wine cellar, Frankenstein’s castle, and a key from the Pentagon. Enjoy signed photographs of US presidents and other famous people as you explore this unique place. Stop by during lunch or dinner and they serve a specialty soup and salad buffet. Read more!
5. Horseback Riding
Give your feet a rest and take in the Rocky Mountains on horseback. Many trails in Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding mountains are open to horseback riding with the requisite permits and permissions. Don’t have a horse? No problem! Several outfitters provide trail rides of varying length and locations around Estes Park and Grand Lake (the park’s western entrance). We recommend Estes Park Outfitters.
6. Good eats
There are fantastic options for dining in Estes Park, which is not only a major travel destination but also a popular day trip destination for folks living in the Front Range cities of Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. The following are some tried and true spots to enjoy a good meal:
Breakfast- The Egg and I
Lunch- Peppers Mexican Grill or Antino’s Real New York Pizza & Deli
Dinner- Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Tap House or Rock Inn Mountain Tavern
Wildland Trekking Hiking Adventures
All of Wildland Trekking’s trips are all-inclusive and expert led so you can focus 100% on enjoying the hiking experience! We’re the #1 rated Rocky Mountain National Park tour company on Trip Advisor and are a nationally recognized leader in the adventure travel industry.
As the world’s premier hiking and trekking company, Wildland brings destinations to life through top-notch service, excellence in guiding, interp and passion. Please visit our website or connect with one of our Adventure Consultants: 800-715-HIKE