15 Fun & Exciting Things To Do in Estes Park Colorado
Estes Park is a town in northern Colorado and is located in the Rocky Mountains. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for outdoor activities, scenery, and historical attractions. We have have been coming back to Estes Park for the last three summers. Our favorite things to do in Estes Park is go hiking, watching wildlife, eating at local restaurants and visiting The Stanley Hotel.
We stayed at 3 different RV parks each summer (one week). Non of the RV parks were upscale but they all had full hook ups.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Estes Park, CO. It is about a 10 mile drive to the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The spots were a little tight but there were different activities for the kids.
Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake, this park was more like your local state park. Beautiful scenery and across the street to Mary’s Lake. Someone spotted a momma bear and a cub by the lake (we didn’t).
Elk Meadow Lodge and RV Resort, closest to Rocky Mountain National Park. No activities, pool was closed due to Covid. They did have a playground. We were there during Labor Day week and it was packed. You can hear the Elks bugling at night, sometimes you can spot them in the park. I would recommend this park due to it’s location.
Here are 15 fun and exciting things to do:
1. Explore Rocky Mountain National Park
This incredible park has over 350 miles of hiking trails, wildlife, and more.
Need To now: You need two things to get into the park: A Park Pass + Daily Reservation ($2 fee per day).
Timed entry reservations are required to enter the park between May 27 and October 10, 2022. (Book this ahead of time, you do not need a park pass to make this reservation). To enter the park during the summer season will require two things: A Timed Entry Permit or a reservation with a service, such as an in-park camping reservation, horseback riding reservation, or commercial tours (Service Reservation), plus a Park Pass or Entrance Fee for your vehicle. We buy a yearly National Park pass for $80 and that gets us in all the National Parks throughout the year. I highly recommend it if you are going to more then one National Park per year.
Bear Lake is the shortest and easiest hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, but it is also one of the most popular. The trailhead is less than a mile from the park’s Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on Bear Lake Road. The lake is about 0.75 miles long and just a short walk from the parking lot, so this is a great hike for families with young children or inexperienced hikers.
Nymph, Dream Lake & Emerald Lakes
Nymph Lake – A short hike from Bear Lake, Nymph lake is surrounded by pine trees, boulder outcroppings and waterfalls.
It blooms with the yellow blossoms of the lily pads that cover its surface. In this serene setting you can gaze at the surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks or fish for trout in its calm waters. There are trails that lead to both Bear Lake and Emerald Lake.
Dream Lake – Dream of hanging a hammock between two trees while gazing up at towering peaks? This spot may be just for you. The cold water released from Hallett’s Dam keeps the surface of Dream Pond cool during hot summer days, so grab your fishing pole and try your luck!
Emerald Lake Trail – An easy .62 mile hike (one way) will bring you to of the most photographed lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Emerald Lake is known for its bright green color and the surrounding 12,000 foot peaks.
Alberta Falls is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike is a moderate and it’s about 2 miles roundtrip. The waterfalls are beautiful and it’s definitely worth the hike.
The hike to Sprague Lake is a short, easy hike that takes you around the lake. The trailhead for this hike is located at the east end of the parking lot at Bear Lake.
This moderate trail climbs steadily through forested slopes to spectacular views of Glacier Gorge and its many waterfalls. It’s one of our most popular hikes, so be prepared for crowds on summer weekends.
Beautiful, moderate 5.4 miles roundtrip hike. The hike to Ouzel Falls begins from the fairly remote Wild Basin Trailhead in the southeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park, located near the small communities of Meeker Park and Allenspark. This hike offers several attractions along the way, including Copeland Falls and Calypso Cascades. Lower Copeland Falls.
This is a famous Stanley hotel that was the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel, The Shining.
Thy have ghost tours which are about an hour and a half long and takes you through the history of the hotel, some ghost stories, and even visits some of the locations from the book/movie. Definitely recommend it and bring the kids. I recommend booking the tickets online ahead of time.
They also have a Whiskey bar for a craft cocktails, beers and more. Not in the mood for drinks, check out their sweet shop Colorado Cherry Co. locally crafted chocolates, pies, honey spreads, gourmet popcorn, cherry salsas, elk jerky, and many more gourmet snacks and gifts!
3. Stop by Kind Coffee
Enjoy organic coffee or a kind shake on their patio overlooking downtown Estes Park.
This is a great way to see the area from a different perspective. Tickets can be purchased online or at the tramway ticket booth. The tram runs from April through October.
5. Explore the local shops in Downtown Estes Park
There are more than 300 shops in downtown Estes Park that offer everything from handcrafted local goods to outdoor gear to delicious meals and beverages.
This is a beautiful walk that follows the Colorado River through Estes Park.
7. Play Mini & Ride Go Carts Golf at Fun City
If you’re looking for a little bit of excitement during your visit to Estes Park, Colorado, then head over to Fun City! Here you can play mini golf or ride go carts. This is the perfect place to let loose and have some fun.
8. Eat at a local restaurants
These are our favorite restaurants.
Bird & Jim, for a special lunch or dinner (need reservations). Casual, rustic eatery offering locally sourced meats & produce, plus hearty mountain fare & wine.
Antonio’s Real NY Pizza Real New York Pizza is made by actual New Yorker’s! So I have always wanted to try the NY 26″ Pizza – The Mega Don! But it was too big for the 3 of us. Last year we went with friends and ordered it. See picture below. WOW!
8. Enjoy some local craft beer
The Barrel If you want to try different local craft beers, this place is awesome. The Barrel is an outdoor & indoor craft beer garden, with sixty-four rotating taps focusing on craft beer, mead, cider and more. They also have live music and a food truck(check their schedule online). We rode our e bikes there from Elk Meadows RV park.
9. Watch the sunset inside RMNP
Forest Canyon Overlook is one of the most popular stops on Trail Ridge Road. The overlook offers a spectacular view of Forest Canyon and the Never Summer Mountains.
This byway is about a 3 hour drive with stops along the way. It is one of the most scenic drives in Colorado. The route starts in Black Hawk and climbs up to Estes Park, passing through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the state. It’s definitely worth taking the time to drive this route, especially if you’re visiting Estes Park.
11. Visit Grand Lake
Grand Lake is located just one hour and 15 minutes from Estes Park. It’s the largest natural lake in Colorado, with a surface elevation of over 8000 feet above sea level. Grand Lake has the distinction of being both an historic resort town and gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). With its pristine lake water, magnificent mountain peaks, waterfalls (Adams Falls Trail is a 0.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Grand Lake), alpine forests and meadows full of wildflowers during summer months; it’s easy to see why this destination attracts so many visitors every year!
Taffy and ice cream are both quintessential Colorado treats, so be sure to indulge while you’re in town.
13. Enjoy Lake Estes
Lake Estes is a reservoir in Estes Park, Colorado created by Olympus Dam. The lake has a shoreline of about 4 miles. It’s a beautiful spot in town, and what better way to enjoy it than by taking a boat ride? You can rent boats right on the lake, so there’s no excuse not to take advantage of this fun activity.
Estes Park Memorial Observatory (EPMO) is located at 660 Big Thompson Avenue, which is one block west of Elkhorn Ave. on Big Thompson Avenue in Estes Park, Colorado. The observatory has a 12-inch reflecting telescope and seating for 50 people inside the dome. It is amazing what you can see in the sky from this observatory. We did not get to go here, but it’s on my list for next time so I wanted to share it with you. (If you go send me a picture and I will add it here).
15. Attend the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival at Bond Park
Be entertained and educated about the Scandinavian traditions and culture with fun and lively dancing, exhibits, kids’ activities, and more! Whatever your heritage may be, join in the many families across the country from Scandinavians descent who gather at the festival to share their heritage.
If you are looking for some fun and exciting things to do in Estes Park Colorado then this list will help you plan your trip!