Things to Know about Visiting Estes Park

Prepare For Your Visit

Know how to get here, what to pack, and what to expect

Estes Park, at 7522 ft. above sea level, is basecamp to the most gorgeous peaks in the Rockies. A visit to our town includes spectacular views, a charming downtown, and plenty of adventure!

As a mountain town, visitors will want to be prepared for altitude, weather, wildlife, and more! This may mean a bit more planning, but trust us: it will be well worth it once you get here!

There are so many things to do in Estes Park that your schedule will probably fill up in no time! Our best advice to visitors: consider taking a day or two longer than initially planned. We wouldn't want you to feel as though you missed out on anything.

NOTE: take a few minutes to read about Rocky Mountain National Park guidelines so that your stay is the best possible. TIMED ENTRY PASSES ARE REQUIRED DURING PEAK SEASON (IN ADDITION TO DAILY PARK PASS).
NPS.GOV:  https://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

Getting to Estes Park

Estes Park is always open – 365 days a year. Although you may need four-wheel drive vehicle in winter months, our roads are easily accessible in every season.

Directions to Estes Park

  • Highway 34, the scenic Big Thompson Canyon, is 35 miles from Loveland, CO (Hwy 34 was under major construction but that has now been completed)
  • Highway 36 is also a picturesque route thru Lyons, either 35 miles from Boulder (Hwy 36) or 30 miles from Longmont (Hwy 66)
  • Highway 7, known as the Peak to Peak Highway, is a gorgeous trip through the peaks of Roosevelt National Forest and the Indian Peaks Wilderness area--a sweet day-trip.
  • Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, the most adventurous route! This is the highest contiguous highway in the U.S. (over 12,000 ft above sea level at its highest elevation). You’ll experience breathtaking views of the Continental Divide. It’s slow-going but rewarding: With alpine meadows, drenched with wildflowers, amazing wildlife, and mountain delights.

Denver International Airport to Estes Park

Estes Park is located about two hours from the Denver International Airport, with easy access from I-25. Denver International Airport has daily direct flights available. We're here for you in Estes Park, with lots of fun activities year-round!

Getting Around Town

FREE shuttle trolley services are available throughout Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Rocky Mountain National Park is experiencing a very high volume of traffic in the summer and fall months, so we encourage you to park your car and take advantage of the transportation services.

There is a new FREE 4 story parking garage across the river from the Estes Park Visitor Center — it's about a 1/4 mile walk along the riverwalk into the downtown area with shops, coffee shops, restaurants and things to do.

Note: there are no car rental options in Estes Park. Estes Park does have a year-round taxi service and both Uber and Lyft are available in the summer.

Estes Transit
Explore Estes via the free shuttle system!

estes map  
Estes Park Maps
Access maps to help you navigate around the area.

Estes Park Weather

The weather in Colorado can be unpredictable all year round. Be sure to plan ahead for cold and hot temperatures no matter the season! Yes, we have seen it snow in July and yes, it has been t-shirt weather well into late October. All in all, though there can be extremes, the weather is nearly always comfortable especially in the mountains.

Be Prepared!

Below is a list of suggest for staying comfortable in Estes Park in summer, spring, winter and fall.

  • Wear sunscreen
  • Drink lots of water
  • Rest when you need it
  • Altitude sickness is a real thing - see a doctor if needed
  • Check the forecast and pack your backpack accordingly
  • Pack and wear layers - weather changes rapidly
  • Pack a poncho for sudden rain showers
  • Use a comfortable backpack - pack water, snacks, extra layers, sunscreen
  • Hiking boots for hiking
  • Closed toe shoes for horseback riding
  • Hiking sticks are helpful to steady yourself or if you have bad knees
  • Take pictures!
  • Get below the tree line if a storm is brewing - lightning is dangerous
  • Observe, enjoy, but keep a good distance from wildlife
  • Leave No Trace

Estes Park History

Estes Park history is abundant with colorful characters, from wily wanderers to world-changers.

Estes Park is also known as the Estes Park Valley because it is a low area of land between mountains with a river flowing through. Fur trappers were coming to Estes Valley long before the 1850s but did not settle here. Pioneer Joel Estes founded the community in 1859 after moving his family from Missouri.

His short-lived attempt at ranching was unsuccessful, but he left enough of an impact to become the name bearer of our beloved town. Our inviting summers, cooled by snowcapped peaks, created the treasure that is Estes Park. Visitors annually returning to Estes Park, created a solid tourism base. By the turn of the century, rustic mountain lodges sprouted up throughout the valley. Eventually, much of the land became the fourth most visited national park: our beloved Rocky Mountain National Park.

Estes Park history is abundant with colorful characters, from wily wanderers to world-changers. Check out rapscallion Lord Dunraven and bear-ravaged Rocky Mountain Jim, as well as inventor/philanthropist F.O. Stanley. Isabella Byrd, the English lady/mountain adventurer, and Enos Mills were instrumental in founding Rocky Mountain National Park. Explore the rich history of our community at the Estes Park Museum. You’ll find intriguing exhibits illustrating early pioneer life in our rugged mountains. Sift through the books about the greatest contributors to Estes and engage in activities for the entire family.

You will enjoy learning about Colorado mountain ranch life in the late 1800s at McGregor Ranch Museum located at this working cattle ranch. Guided tours take you through the original home with many of the family's personal items, the milk house, the smokehouse and other historic buildings. While there, be sure to take in the mountain vista eye candy that surrounds the ranch, especially Lumpy Ridge. 

Another interesting aspect to Estes Park history is the The Stanley Home Museum & Education Center. This Home & Center strives to educate and inspire diverse audiences by developing a deeper understanding of F.O. and Flora Stanley’s experiences, character, and leadership through the interpretation and preservation of the history, context, and culture of the historic Stanley home.

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Estes Park, CO 80517

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