Estes Park - Colorado

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Estes Park & the Rockies

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 the lake.

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 Thompson Ave.).

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 parking area.

For details on Rocky Mountain National Park,
Go to the Park Page.  


Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

Reserve hotel rooms in Colorado

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and vacation packages around the world,

go to the Hotel Guide

There are three very interesting places to stay in the area -- quite out of the ordinary.

Stanley Hotel
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.

Glacier Lodge
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 attractions
Go to Denver, Aspen, Breckenridge,
Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain. N.P.

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