Estes Park, Colorado

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

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Estes Park, Colorado is a picturesque mountain town between the Front Range and the Rocky Mountains. Rocky Mountain National Park is this privileged town’s big, beautiful backyard and tops the list of Estes Park area attractions.

Near the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park's back yard. (Colorado Tourism Office)

Estes Park lodging is abundant and comes in the form of chain hotels and mountain lodges.

Outdoor activities are a major part of the culture because of its proximity to the national park. Hiking, biking, camping, rock climbing and wildlife viewing are arguably better here than anywhere else in the state.

The national park is visited by a multitude of tourists every year, but it is big enough to support them. If there are still too many people where you’re at in the park, keep going farther: there’s plenty of wilderness to go around. While you’re in the park, don’t miss the Trail Ridge Road- the highest continuous byway in America.

With no commercial enterprises within Rocky Mountain National Park, this town at its edge has become a good shopping area. It has over 300 retail stores and lots of restaurants.

Even just strolling down an Estes Park sidewalk or scenic Riverwalk will have you feeling you’re on a relaxing vacation.

Ice and rock climbers love the towering crags surrounding town, and boaters can tool around Lake Estes for fun. Trails crisscross the surrounding forests and meadows, providing recreation areas for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.

While Rocky Mountain National Park borders the west end of town, its three other sides are surrounded by Roosevelt National Forest. Lumpy Ridge is directly north of town.

Wildlife like wild elk live year-round in the area. You’ll notice them especially in their mating season in the fall, when the males call out to the females.

As all of these are summer activities, the peak of the tourist season comes with the summer. However, Estes Park is still a fun playground in the fall and winter. Don’t miss the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Festival or the beautiful changing of the aspen leaves. Cross-country ski and snowshoe the area’s trails in the winter and then head back to your cozy hotel for a soak in the hot tub under clear winter skies!

Estes Park has its place in popular culture as well. It is the infamous mountain locale in Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.” He changed the manuscript’s setting from an amusement park to the “Overlook Hotel,” (actually The Stanley Hotel) after he stayed in the huge Edwardian palace just outside of town.

The Denver airport is located 75 miles southeast of Estes Park.

  • We rode through Estes on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park on our motorcycles. Simply beautiful!

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