Estes Park, Colorado

So ya wanna visit Rocky Mountain National Park?  The name Estes Park is synonymous with Rocky Mountain National Park.  This quaint town is considered the eastern gateway to the Park and is the most popular, well-known entry point.  Estes Park is a small mountain town catering to the needs of the many tourists from around the world embarking on a Colorado adventure.

in , USA
in , USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is an abundance of lodging (including campgrounds), restaurants, shopping, and sights to see.  The most famous lodging is the Stanley Hotel.  Al and I stayed at the Stanley when we celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary with a trip to Colorado.  Very romantic, I might add.  Oh, and yes, the hotel was built by and named after the famous Stanley Steamer inventor.

The Stanley Hotel is known for its architecture, beautiful setting, and famous visitors.  Most notable;  Stephen King’s “The Shining” novel, turned movie, was filmed at this amazing place.  The hotel is also known for being haunted and has been featured on several shows about the super natural, most recently on the Travel Channel.  Although this historic hotel is haunted, not to fear, the ghosts are considered to be happy ghosts.  No murders or unpleasantries took place here.

Trail Ridge Road – Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is a spectacular wilderness that has been protected for millions to see and enjoy.  This being said, commercial activity inside park boundaries is extremely limited.  So on any outing or activity, be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks.  Please remember to drink lots and lots of water to avoid even the mildest symptoms of altitude sickness.

Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States.  It is also one of America’s top ten byways.  This road traverses through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Grand Lake.  My favorite day and one I would recommend;  head out of Estes Park about 8 in the morning.  Dress in layers because it’ll be cool/cold in the morning.  Drive Trail Ridge Road and stop at EVERY scenic pull-out for a photo-op…….destination Grand Lake.  In Grand Lake enjoy lunch, a picnic, ice cream, coffee – whatever floats your boat.  If you stand at the water’s edge of the lake, you can feel the coolness of the water.  Kind of like opening a refrigerator door. Be sure and take a stroll up and down Main Street.  Grand Lake is one of my favorite mountain towns, a town we would frequent every winter during our Christmas vacations at Snow Mountain Ranch.  Although it is much more of a summer destination than winter one.

Al and Bear / Grand Lake, Colorado

After your Grand Lake tour, return to Estes Park.  Once again taking in all the sights.  I’m not sure why, and perhaps it’s just me, but the views from this direction take on a new personality.  So you won’t feel like you’re doing a repeat, not that this awe-inspiring scenery doesn’t need repeating.  Plan on taking the day to do this trip, and don’t be surprised if an afternoon storm rolls in.

Estes Park is a great jumping off point for a Colorado vacation, whether you stay in a hotel or a campground.  I personally wouldn’t recommend Trail Ridge Road for large RV’s, even though we see plenty.  The road is narrow and parking is difficult during busy summer months.  The majority of campgrounds within the park are geared toward tents and small trailers.  Most are not suitable for large RV’s and offer no hookups.  If I were tenting it, I would definitely stay at one of several campgrounds within Rocky Mountain National Park.  What an amazing backyard to enjoy.  I would also recommend checking out YMCA of the Rockies for lodging options in Estes Park.

No trip to Colorado would be complete without a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I’m ready to go back today……

Ouzel Lake and Mahana Peak, Rocky Mountain Nat...
Ouzel Lake and Mahana Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA (misidentified as Bear Lake at source site — compare to photos at (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9 thoughts on “Estes Park, Colorado

    1. FYI…..Colorado has numerous wildfires. Be sure to check up to date info before heading this way. Very sad and dangerous. These fires are only spreading and increasing in size.


  1. I’ve never been to Colorado – flown over, but never stopped. Love the Broncos and will miss Tebo.. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a few years and there is something about mountains, they’re amazing… thanks for sharing…. keep on making your days count!


    1. Although I miss the lush yard and flowers we had in Illinois, I love living in Colorado. Highly recommend a family summer vacation out west. Thanks for stopping 🙂


  2. you may enjoy Isabella Lucy Bird’s ‘A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains’. She was hanging out in Estes when there were only about 8 people living there. It’s a great read for people (especially women with mountains in their blood) who love the Rockies. cheers!


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