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Mountain Splendor: Summertime in Estes Park, Colorado

By on June 20, 2011

Estes Park is a prime Colorado destination for vacationers wanting mountain splendor and outdoor fun. Located near Roosevelt National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a splendid summer getaway.

In addition to Estes Park’s signature activities of hiking, horseback riding, wildlife tours and rafting, we’ve compiled a few activities that help travelers take advantage of this beautiful mountain town.

Estes Park Aerial Tramway
420 E. Riverside Dr.
Estes Park, Colorado 80517
970-586-3675
estestram.com

Take a ride to the top of Prospect Mountain on the Aerial Tramway. The free-spanning lift is pulled by a solid rope with no support towers in between, thanks to the mountain terrain, so the ride is smooth and comfortable. From the observation platform 9,000 feet above sea level, you can see Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park and the layout of Estes Park.

The views on the way up and down include the town of Estes, the historic Stanley Hotel and a panorama of the Continental Divide.

At the top, visitors can spend the day exploring the gift shop, eating breakfast, lunch or snacks at the Coffee House, and hiking the family-friendly top terrain.

Tickets cost $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for kids 6 to 11 (no charge for younger children riding with their parents). The season runs from the end of May through the beginning of September, although the operating schedule may change due to the weather. The company suggests riding early in the day or late afternoon for great views, photo ops and smaller crowds.

Mountain views mix with water sports at the Lake Estes Marina.

Trail Ridge Road
U.S. 34 between Estes Park and Grand Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 U.S. Highway 36
Estes Park, Colorado 80517
970-586-1206
nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/trail_ridge_road.htm

For anyone wanting to explore the different ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains, this road has it all, from meadows filled with aspen and ponderosa pine trees, to subalpine fir and spruce forests, to treeless, arctic-like alpine tundra at its 12,183-foot summit.

The highest continuous paved highway in North America, Trail Ridge Road extends 48 miles through Rocky Mountain National Park, from Estes Park on the east side to Grand Lake on the west.

Road riders are encouraged to stop at the designated areas of Hidden Valley, Many Parks curve, Rainbow Curve and the Forest Canyon Overlook to take in the views.

For a different journey up, the adventurous (and hopefully 4-wheel drive equipped) can take historic Fall River Road from a turnoff in Horseshoe Park. The one-way, dirt road was the first auto route in Rocky Mountain National Park, and continues to be a good way to slow down (15 mph is normal speed) and take in the surrounding beauty. Fall River Pass marks the end, where the “motor nature trail” joins the main road that leads motorists back down the mountain.

Estes Park Museum
200 Fourth St.
Estes Park, Colorado 80517
970-586-6256
estesnet.com/museum

The Estes Park Museum not only showcases and preserves local history, art and science, but also contributes to community events promoting the town’s past and present.

The museum features three temporary exhibits a year in addition to the permanent “Tracks in Time” exhibit, which takes a look at the Estes Park area throughout history. Among events the museum co-hosts are walking tours of historic downtown Estes Park, artifact drawings and the Coolest Car Show featuring vintage autos.

An antique auto at the Estes Park Museum

Admission to the museum is free. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m., May through October. November to April hours are Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Some events cost a small fee. See the museum’s website for a list of events happening this summer.

Lake Estes Marina
1770 Big Thompson Ave.
Estes Park, Colorado 80517
970-586-2011
estesvalleyrecreation.com/marina.html

The marina offers fun on, in and around Lake Estes, while offering great views of the surrounding mountains and Estes Valley. Boaters can rent a vessel through the marina or bring their own. Rentals include kayaks, canoes, pontoon boats and fishing boats.

Visitors can also rent bikes – from standard mountain bikes to tandem bicycles – as one way to get around the Lake Estes Trail. The 4-mile paved trail makes for a scenic walk, bike, run or skate around the lake.

For families or groups the marina also has volleyball pits, picnic areas and pavilions where visitors can set up for a day of play.

The Riverwalk
Estes Park Visitors Center
500 Big Thompson Road
Estes Park, Colorado 80517
970-577-9900

The Riverwalk, which stretches between Fall River and Big Thompson River, offers visitors a stroll through the center of downtown Estes Park – also known as The Village – where they can stop in unique shops, mountain boutiques and galleries, then grab a bite to eat at one of the town’s varied restaurants.

If You Go

From town, travelers can catch a free local shuttle service to get to hiking, shopping and other destinations in the area.

For more information about things to do in Estes Park, visit estesparkcvb.com or call 970-577-9900.

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  1. Reply

    Mathew Shaw

    January 19, 2012

    If you are visiting or even a local Estes Park is definately a place to go if you want mountain beauty, Rocky Mountain National Park is also very wonderful!

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