Heading to Estes Park, Colorado for a Ladies Weekend? Or perhaps with your family and older kiddos?
I visited the beautiful mountain town a couple weekends ago. Every time I visit, I am amazed at just how beautiful this town is. The rock formations, the mountains, the valley, the reservoir…wow. Typically I am there for a just a couple hours, traveling through while on an outdoor adventure. On this latest visit, I spent the night and had a blast doing several activities with two of my best girlfriends. (Two jaunts ago we headed to Aspen, Colorado for a Ladies Weekend.)
Keep reading to discover 5 things you’ll love to do in Estes Park, Colorado.
1. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park.
As a resident of Colorado who lives about an hour from the park, I hardly ever go there. It is expensive. It is crowded. I know alternatives that are equally fabulous. But, there is something so special about the park. The wildlife, the shape of the mountains, the meadows…I’d choose Rocky Mountain National Park’s beauty over Yellowstone’s any day. (It’s a tougher call if I add Grand Teton National Park or Arches National Park into the mix…)
If you go during the “off-season,” crowds aren’t a problem. If you go in the summer, go early. (Like really early.)(Like really, really, really early in the day.) On this recent trip, we brought a picnic lunch and enjoyed it at a picnic area near the Old Fall River Road. And after the picnic, we hiked a couple miles up the road and checked out a little waterfall.
The Old Fall River Road was not one of my favorite hikes in the park, but it was a new spot for me to see, and I enjoyed it. If I got to choose a location again, I would head to Dream Lake, although it is considered to be pretty easy. But so beautiful!!!
2. Go Horseback Riding.
I never regret splurging on horseback riding on trails in Estes Park.
On this trip, we arranged our horseback riding trip through National Park Gateway Stables and took a 2 hour horseback ride in the national park. It was so fun and special and beautiful and peaceful–a perfect out of the ordinary way to spend time with my best friends. If you are on the fence about horseback riding, just do it.
3. Visit the Stanley Hotel.
The Stanley Hotel, an Estes Park, Colorado landmark and the inspiration for The Shining, is worth a visit. Whether you stop by for a meal, a coffee, a drink at the bar, a ghost tour, a special event…you won’t regret it.
On this trip, I attended a 90s-themed “prom” after having dinner at the Cascades Restaurant in the hotel. The dance was fun, but next time I would skip a meal at the Stanley, opting instead for a drink at their old-fashioned bar.
4. Eat at Latitude 105 Alehouse in the Ridgeline Hotel
Forget fancy dining at the Stanley, check out the Latitude 105 Alehouse. It is modern, trendy and has more options than heavy meat dinners (my best friends are vegetarians and Estes Park seems to be a meat lovers paradise). We actually went there for brunch and loved the mimosa flight (yes!!!), but I wish we had headed there for our evening meal.
5. Hermit Park Open Space
If you can’t stand the crowds for a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park (or don’t want to pay those entry fees), check out Larimer County’s Hermit Park Open Space. (You’ll have to pay about $7 to park here.) From downtown Estes Park, drive southeast on N St Vrain Ave/Highway 36 for about 44 miles. The entrance to Hermit Park will be on the right.
There are a few easy to moderate hiking trails, the current longest one being 2.5 miles in length (I think that’s one way). This area was way less crowded than Rocky Mountain National Park, but still a scenic spot to be.
Although I secretly wanted to stay in the Stanley, it didn’t really make cents. So we stayed in a suite at the Appenzell Inn, and it was perfect for us. Our room had the biggest heart-shaped bathtub, which we definitely utilized. The deck outside of our room had spectacular mountain views. The breakfast was included, and it was fine to fuel up before horseback riding.
Do you have any Estes Park, Colorado recommendations on things to do? Please share in the comments!