What to See & Do |
Where to Stay | Camping
Estes Park & the
Surrounding crags dominate this beautiful valley
town which lies at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National
Park. The highest of the nearby mountains is Long's Peak
which is 14,255 feet high. Estes Park has a selection of
resorts and camping spots.
During the summer months, thousands of
people crowd the streets of Estes Park each day. Most
come to visit Rocky Mountain
National Park, staying overnight in one of the town's
motels or hotels. In a normal year, more than three
million people visit Estes Park and its resorts. Very few
of them come during the spring or fall, and these are the
best times to appreciate the town and the park.
Our first visit to the park was in mid
September, with fall color on the lower slopes and a
comfortable group of travelers with which to share the
beauty of the mountains. Estes Park is reached by either
the Peak to Peak route, from the Central
City/Black Hawk area west of Denver, or by driving from
Denver north on Interstate 25 to Boulder, and taking the
Boulder Turnpike (Hwy. 36) through Boulder to
Lyons, and on to Estes Park.
What to See & Do
Although there are other things to see and do
around the resort town, Rocky Mountain National Park is
the major attraction. Fishing is better outside the park
than inside, and local anglers recommend fishing the
Big Thompson River, five to eight miles downstream
from Estes Park. You can get there by taking Hwy. 34 and
you'll find fishing access parking spots beside the road.
You should find rainbow and brown trout. Lake
Estes east of town offers small rainbow trout which
are stocked regularly. Mary's Lake is a tiny lake
at the west end of Estes Park via Hwy. 36 and follow
Mary's Lake Rd. You'll probably find fish at the inlet to
There are two golf courses in town. Estes Park Golf
Club, on Highway 7, has an 18 hole course, open from
April into October. The mountain views are tremendous and
play is challenging. The Lake Estes Executive
Course has nine holes, is open year round and
provides an equal challenge. It's on Highway 34 (Big
Hikers may wish to take a walk outside of the national
park area and Roosevelt National Forest offers
several fine trails which lead to spectacular views. One
of the best (and easiest to climb) is the Lily
Mountain Trail. It climbs 1.5 miles to the summit,
where there are great views of Long's Peak -- the town
lying below, with the Mummy Range to the north.
The trailhead is located six miles south of Estes Park,
via Highway 7. There is a turnoff to the west, and a
For details on Rocky Mountain National
Go to the Park Page.
There are three very interesting places to stay
in the area -- quite out of the ordinary.
Since 1909, this venerable -- restored -- hotel has been
the "Grand Hotel" of the Colorado Rockies and is on the
National Register of Historic Places. The rooms are
sumptuous and many have original furniture. The dining
room is a delight.
This cabin resort is located beside the Big Thompson
River. There are 20 cabins -- many with fireplaces --
rooms in the lodge, a heated pool, facilities for kids
and good food including a cookout on Mondays.
YMCA of The Rockies
A unique resort with more than 200 cabins and additional
lodge rooms set in nearly 1500 acres of forest. There are
programs for young people, swimming, riding. For
information, write YMCA, 2515 Tunnel Rd., Estes Park CO
80511-2800 or phone (970) 586-3341.
Spruce Lake RV Park, 1050 Mary's Lake Road,
(970) 586 3889
This is a large RV park with full hookups, laundry and
store beside the Big Thompson River. a mile from the
entrance to the national park. From the West Junction of
Business Loop US-34 & US 36, head South 1.4 miles on
US-36 to Mary's Lake Road, go South 300 feet, Spruce Lake
is on the left.
Mary's Lake Campground & RV Park, 2120
Mary's Lake Road -- (970) 586-4411 or 800-445-6279
It's located near Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes
Park. The lake is across the street. The area offers lake
and stream fishing, horseback riding, and hiking trails.
Golf courses are nearby. Visitors often attend a
chuckwagon dinner show, take breakfast or dinner
horseback rides, and Rocky Mountain tours. Cable TV
hookups are available for RVs. Also available is a
Colman Taos Camper for rent, sleeping 3 to 5 people.
Rocky Mountain National Park has campgrounds
suitable for tents and RVs.
For details on nearby towns and
Go to Denver, Aspen,
Fort Collins, Rocky