A statutory town in the Larimer County, Colorado, the Estes Park lying along the Big Thompson River apart from being a popular summer resort also has the headquarters of the Rocky Mountain National Park. In 2010, the population was just a mere 5,858.
This place has all the amenities one might need for mountaining and the hometown hospitality that you probably look for. Estes Park also features in different wilderness activities like excursions guided by local experts and assures both the novice and the pro will automatically get compelled for exploration. Activities like hiking, cycling, camping, rock climbing and even water sports like paddle boarding and white water rafting during summer. Even there are bowling zones, which is available all seven days of the week and offers great excitement and fun for a bunch of friends.
During winter, the temperature is way below zero degrees and the slopes are completely covered with snow. Activities like sledding, ice climbing, snowshoeing and back country skiing is what adds to the unique wilderness. New lightweight snowshoes make it possible for the whole family to go snowshoeing on a sunny, crisp winter day. You can either take a ranger and go on a scheduled tour or just be on your own following your choice of trails. All sorts of rentals are available. Snowshoe Ecology Walks which lasts for 2 hours take place from January to March and reservations need to be done seven days in advance. Also during winters, the Bear Lake and the Hidden Valley region turns out to be great gathering spots for groups and families as they do Sledding here. And even during other time of the year when it is mostly snow-free, the higher elevation zones in the park still have good sledding snow. Throughout all seasons one can find adventurers along the trails and streams doing fly fishing, fat-bike, horseback riding and putting their photography skills to work.
You will have lodging, shopping and dining options inside the park but mostly the travelers prefer spending their time in the village experiencing the wilderness. The scenic Riverwalk, beautiful downtown area and the other charming attractions, Estes Park has a lot to offer to the vacationers. One can also go for boating on the lake, enjoy a drink at the local distilleries and breweries and also soar up in the aerial tram touring the entire area. Trail Ridge Road, a national designated scenic byway and probably the highest paved continuous highway of US. It will take the travelers on a special journey through the alpine world. In this area, wildlife encounters are a common occurrence especially the majestic elk in the grassy meadows. In spite of being popular one can also find solitude here as the explorers move away from roads to the trails. You will get park rangers who will be happy to guide you in the proper direction.
When the whole family is present, or the entire bunch of friends are together, what could be more fun than a warm afternoon than a picnic. Bring your basket packed from home or get it assembled from a local store. The popular picnic zones are the Roosevelt National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park and around the southern shores of Lake Estes.
At Estes Park, people of all age group has got something or the other for them of which some popular programs conducted by the Rocky Mountain National Park naturalists and rangers are ranger led daytime and full moon hikes, campfire talks, videos and programs at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Centre, naturalist talks and the Junior Ranger program.
The walkway that goes around Lake Estes is easily accessible for people of all age groups throughout the year. It is leveled, paved and comfortable to navigate by foot, bicycle and even wheelchair. For hikers, there are hundreds of miles of walking trails here at the Rocky Mountain National Park. For families with young children there are even shorter trails with little altitude to suit their capacity but yet give them a sense of hiking in Estes Park.
For wildlife watchers, it’s a treat for their eyes. We often find wild animals appearing on roadsides and is surprising for all age groups, but here spotting them in their natural habitat like deer, elk and bighorn sheep is exciting and gives joy to one’s heart. But it is better to stay safe and in a group as well as although rarely but still bear and mountain lions have been spotted in the vicinity.
People can also go fishing, and you can get it grilled for an excellent dinner. A fresh tout from the mountains is the ultimate treat. One can find several riverbank fishing and public lakeshore fishing areas in Estes Park. But people who are 16 and above will require a fishing license, but whatsoever, a good catch is for sure.
For people who wish to go one step further, can visit the Estes Park stables where they have well-trained horses and wranglers who have experience and can take families on a trail ride in the forest or the park during summers, spring and during fall of seasons. For kids, riding a pony around the corral are great thrills.
The snow melt lakes might be too chilly, but if you feel like going for a good swim then the Estes Park Aquatic Centre has provisions of a indoor heated pool. At YMCA OF THE Rockies, the pool is open for public always except for the summer months as it is reserved for the guests of the YMCA during that time.
For a leisure activity one can opt for boating on Lake Estes. Rent a paddle boat or a foot- powered boat at the summer marina. Or else groups can go on a floating picnic from marina on a pontoon boat. Sailboards are colorful and fun gliding through the water. You will get wet suits for rent to protect yourselves from the chill of the water. In the evening on certain days of the week, Water Skiing is also available on Lake Estes.
You will also get to play Miniature Golf here in summer which is, by the way, a great recreation for all age groups and specially the kids. Enjoy the game as well as the splendid beauty of the mountains around you.
Also during summers, the Estes Park Go Cart tracks are great fun for families. It brings out the Formula 1 drivers among all the visitors with the go carts whizzing past people along the courses.
The Wild West was known for its trains. So a miniature train ride is found for people who would love to have some taste of the past. The whistle and the engines “chug chug” sounds are what lifts up the spirits of all the tourists. They also have the tram which is a cable tramway which operates during the summer and takes one to the top of the Prospect Mountain and offers you breath-taking views. On top, one can find awesome vantage points for photography, a small hiking trail, and some snack shops if you want to have a small mountain picnic with your family.
Before planning a visit to the Estes Park, check the Estes calendar for famous events such as the annual Teddy Bear Picnic, Highlands Festival and others which can be great fun for the entire family. Other activities will include horse shows, Rooftop Rodeo, the wool market, etc. are usually scheduled in summer. There is also a modern three-screen cinema theater which is functional always and a historic movie theater house which is open only in summer.