8 Epic Things to Do in Estes Park

Kayaking on Lake Estes in Estes Park, Colorado

8 Epic Things to Do in Estes Park

Estes Park is a place that is full of outdoor thrills, great dining experiences, and yummy craft beers. It is a place for a romantic couples getaway or a big family retreat. These eight things to do in Estes Park are sure to keep you busy and your experiences full while in the Rockies!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links from which we may make commission from. As always, we only recommend places and products we love!

1. Take a ride on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway

We won’t lie, we’re suckers for tourist traps. Sometimes they are that way for a reason, right? Although the tram ride itself on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway is a bit underwhelming, the views from the top are breathtaking which makes it one of the top things to do in Estes Park!

Travel Tip: There are fewer crowds in the early morning or late afternoon. We went right at 9 am when it opened and there was still a line. However, when we left the line was 5x as long!

Address: 420 E Riverside Dr, Estes Park
Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 9am-6pm
$12/pp round trip

things to do in Estes Park
Feast your eyes on your own panorama of Estes Park!
things to do in Estes Park
Climbing to new heights at Prospect Mountain

2. Take a kayak out and relax on Lake Estes

Driving by Lake Estes you’ll laugh like we did because the lake itself might be the smallest one we’ve ever seen! However, this actually made our kayak experience so much better because there aren’t any big boats disrupting the waters. We were able to get to the far side of the lake within 45 minutes and really enjoyed the mountain views at this top thing to do in Estes Park.

Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 9am-5pm

things to do in Estes Park
Going with the flow on Lake Estes

3. Visit the Stanley Hotel… if you dare

The Stanley Hotel is a haunted hotel is best known for its inspirational role in Stephen King’s novel, turned film, The Shining. It has been featured as one of America’s most haunted hotels and continues to still operate since its doors opened in 1909.

You can’t help but hear Jack Nicholson eerily saying “heeeeeerrrrreeee’s Johnny!” when walking up to the Stanley Hotel. Visit just to see or stay the night if you’re really brave! If you’re a fan then you might also like these fun facts.

Travel Tip: You can visit the hotel itself for free but the Stanley Hotel also offers special tours.
Hours: Multiple tour times starting at 10 am most days
Cost: $20-25/adult $17/children (save $5 with AAA)

things to do in Estes Park
So ominous whenever there is a storm brewing!

4. Rent a Jeep and go trailing

If you’re into exploring new places, thrilling adventures, and getting off the grid for a little while, a Backbone Adventures Jeep Rental is for you! We had a blast taking out a two-door Jeep Wrangler and exploring some of the off-roading trails near Estes Park. Our favorite is Storm Mountain, but overall, we strongly believe that this is one of the top things to do in Estes Park.

Travel Tip: Backbone Adventures also offers ATV, Harley Davidson Motorcycle, Dirt Bike, UTV, RAZOR, and Snowmobile rentals.
Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 9am-5pm (also the length of time you are able to use your Jeep)
Cost: $200

things to do in Estes Park
Trailing to the top of Storm Mountain
things to do in Estes Park
Where the mountains and the cool, crisp air make you feel alive

READ MORE: 7 Beautiful Places to Visit On A Colorado Road Trip

5. Grab some grub at The Wapiti Pub

The Wapiti Pub prides itself on how they “embody everything that is Colorado” and boy do they ring true to that tagline. Not only do they have terrific dining options that support local, but they also have an AMAZING selection of Colorado craft beers and a nice sunny patio to relax on after a full day of hiking.

Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 11am-9pm Menu

things to do in Estes Park

6. Enjoy a sweet treat at Purple Mountain Taffy Company

Looking for something sweet to add to your list of things to do in Estes Park? Grab an ice cream and a few taffy flavors to-go at Purple Mountain Taffy Company. We liked the huckleberry, salted caramel, lemon, banana, Mexican chocolate, and triple berry the best but the options are endless! 

Address: 121 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park
Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 10am-6pm
$12.99/lb (about 60 taffy pieces or you can always get less)

things to do in Estes Park
So many flavors!

7. Leisurely stroll and shop at Downtown Estes Park

Support local Estes Park businesses by shopping at some of the coolest shops you’ll find while in Colorado. There is a lengthy list of 300 places to buy handcrafted goods, clothing, jewelry, and outdoor gear all located in downtown Estes Park. You can also find many different restaurants and pubs to get a light lunch or a cold drink.

Travel Tip: Parking can definitely be tricky! We had the most luck close to the Estes Park post office.
Address: 356 E. Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park (general location)
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am-8pm (most stores)

things to do in Estes Park
You can even see a movie at this historic theater!

8. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park

Obviously, we saved the best thing to do in Estes Park for last! No trip to Estes Park is complete without visiting nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. With so much beauty around, you’re sure to want to spend a few days here. Be sure to find your way to Trail Ridge Road as well! How many jaw-dropping national parks have you been to?

Address: 1000 US Hwy 36, Estes Park
24hrs/365 days a year
Cost: $20/vehicle day pass or $30/vehicle 7-day pass

things to do in Estes Park
Dream Lake, you were stunning
things to do in Estes Park
Views en route to Emerald Lake

READ MORE: Hiking Bear Lake Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where to Stay in Estes Park

If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay in Estes Park then take a look at these cozy hotels below!

Budget: Discovery Lodge
Luxury: The Stanley Hotel
Perfect for Couples: Romantic RiverSong Bed & Breakfast Inn
Family-Friendly: Murphy’s River Lodge

Whether you spend a weekend in Estes Park or a few weeks – there is something for everyone! Which of these things to do in Estes Park would make the top of your list?

These 8 epic things to do in Estes Park, Colorado are sure to make your list. Explore and see all that Estes Park has to offer!


  • Reply
    Rhonda Albom
    September 19, 2016 at 4:08 AM

    Looks like a beautiful place. I love the Rocky mountains. It is the Kayaking and jeep photos that really sold me on adding it to my list for next time we are in Colorado.

    • Reply
      September 19, 2016 at 6:10 PM

      Even photos cannot completely display the beauty here! You must go to RMNP next time. 🙂

  • Reply
    Milosz Zak
    September 23, 2016 at 9:24 PM

    Wonderful adventure. I worked for Parks Canada, and we often got to see vistas like this. The North American continent has some amazing variation in landscapes. I do think some of the rentals offered are a little pricey though – on both sides of the border.

    • Reply
      September 23, 2016 at 10:31 PM

      Milosz, we would love to explore more of Canada. I agree on that aspect too. Some rental companies can definitely be overpriced!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2016 at 11:21 PM

    I love Colorado and even though of moving there from Las Vegas before we decided on a life as digital nomads instead. I don’t think there is any place more beautiful than Estes Park in the U.S. I have traveled all over and the air is clear and crips and always has such great natural fragrances. Now I am making myself homesick again.

    • Reply
      September 24, 2016 at 12:01 AM

      We love it too! There is just something about the calm water, crisp mountain air, and you’re so spot on about the fragrances of the wildflowers, waterfalls, and just all around nature! We hope to end up here someday to live for a little while. 🙂

  • Reply
    September 24, 2016 at 6:36 PM

    Very cool location. I was thinking, “where the heck is Estes Park?” as I was reading the entire post. It wasn’t until nearly the end through that you mentioned it was in Colorado. Oh, that’s neat. Now I know in what part of the world it is. Then I went back and read the full post because I was now interested. Thanks for the great information 🙂

    • Reply
      September 25, 2016 at 5:02 PM

      Ckaway, thanks for pointing that out. It’s in our menu and pin photo but I realized we failed to mention it at the beginning. I’m glad you were able to find some ideas from us! Hope you’re able to visit there someday soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    September 25, 2016 at 9:36 AM

    What a fun adventure! Renting a jeep is something I would do. We rented one in Aruba, and had a blast off-roading.

    • Reply
      September 25, 2016 at 4:53 PM

      We loved it too! We almost wished we had rented one for a few days while we were there. Off-roading is so much fun!

  • Reply
    Teresa Gilbert
    September 25, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    I totally just want to jump in these photos with you! Looks like a major blast!

    • Reply
      September 25, 2016 at 7:57 PM

      Teresa, thanks so much! We did have a fabulous time. You’ll definitely have to visit sometime. 🙂

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 3:38 AM

    This place looks awesome! I’d love to get stuck into some adventure with killer views like that! The hotel being inspo for The Shining is a bonus – I’d love to see it!

    Plus, your outfits were awesome!

    • Reply
      September 26, 2016 at 6:27 PM

      Thanks so much Suzannah! We really enjoyed visiting here and wished we could have spent a whole week exploring the Rocky Mountains. 🙂 Hope you are able to go at some point!

  • Reply
    Shayne Zalameda
    September 26, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    This looks exciting! I bet you two had a lot of fun! I wanna jump to those destinations right away!

    • Reply
      September 26, 2016 at 6:27 PM

      Thanks Shayne! We really did. 🙂 You should go visit sometime!

  • Reply
    September 26, 2016 at 6:31 PM

    You must go sometime! The views are epic and the beers are amazing too. 🙂

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 12:19 AM

    Looks like you had an incredible time. All the adventure stuff sounds great but the hotel has me really intrigued based on the whole Shining story.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 1:07 AM

    RMNP is just like Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. Loved the place and photos.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 3:40 AM

    So great and that Shinning Hotel I would so stay in that simply because I’m a huge cinephile and love that film. Estes Park looks really wonderful with so much to do both for the everyday tourist as well as the adventure tourist. Love the idea of the tramway and having a jeep to drive around. The Cinema looks so retro.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 7:37 AM

    What an amazing place! I love the activities.
    Most of all I like how you composed the pics. Makes me want to follow you!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 7:41 AM

    I feel like Estes Park is one of those places that keeps coming up recently. In the past few weeks, several people have mentioned it to me as a place not to miss during my next visit to Colorado. I personally want to see the hotel from the Shining, but my wife would probably have a heart attack in the car on the way there. I can’t wait to visit sometime soon!

  • Reply
    Sara Broers
    December 18, 2016 at 11:04 AM

    Ahhh… my favorite national park. Did you have an elk burger at the Wapiti Pub? Dream Lake is the most photographed lake in the park, so it made sense you were there. If you return, be sure to hike to Odessa Lake~ my favorite! Great capture of a beautiful place to visit.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2016 at 7:21 AM

    Sounds like the perfect place for outdoor adventure enthusiasts like ourselves! Rocky Mountain National Park has been on my list for a while now though I hadn’t heard of Estes Park – looks just as stunning though! Thanks for the introduction 🙂

  • Reply
    December 20, 2016 at 12:18 AM

    I love Colorado, this was my target this year but something came up. I am so sad I wasnt able to go but more reason to go back. It is absolutely gorgeous.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2016 at 12:28 AM

    The tramway would be first on my list! I love epic views. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing. Happy travels 🙂

  • Reply
    December 20, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    What a beautiful place! I wonder why Dream Lake got that name! 🙂

    • Reply
      December 28, 2016 at 8:33 PM

      Thank you Pedro!I guess because it’s such a dream to look at! 😉

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Jennifer McCallum
    April 16, 2017 at 5:39 PM

    Great recap, Estes Park is one of our favorite places….so much so that we had our destination wedding there. But we’ve never done the aerial tramway before so that has been added to our list, thank you!

    I would also highly recommend starting the day out with donuts from the Donut Haus. But go early because they WILL sell out!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2017 at 9:40 PM

    I lived in Estes from June 1976-September 1989. Worked for Rocky Mountain National Park,on trail maintenance .(got paid to hike every day!) Owned a restaurant on Moraine Ave., then called The Surrey. Going back this month for a short visit. Cant wait, the mountains are calling!! My heart is still there, and feel the pull!

  • Reply
    Jocelyn Gonzales
    September 14, 2018 at 8:00 AM

    Go! It’s such a nice little town with so much charm! My boyfriend and I went last may and the drive there was so worth it. We enjoyed Rocky Mountain National Park so much, i definitely recommend off-roading. We rented a tom car with Estes Park ATV Rentals and we enjoyed it so much.

  • Reply
    Becky Knope
    September 24, 2019 at 5:24 AM

    We are here right now in Estes Park and staying at the Discovery Lodge. It’s great because the elk are all here on the golf course! They came over the hill, crossed the highway, through the parking lot, into the pond and onto the golf course! 5:30 pm last week of September. We ordered a pizza at Bobs & Tony’s Pizza and it was delicious! Shopping downtown was amazing. Photo opportunities were fun and beautiful!

  • Reply
    January 19, 2020 at 6:25 AM

    Really amazing content my friend! Thank you for sharing these information with us, they are really useful and helpful.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2020 at 1:09 PM

    I live in Loveland about 40 minutes from Estes Park and I’d like to point out that getting there is very easy! No 3 hour mountain roads (an hour or less from Boulder or Loveland below).

    Also, there’s tons of wildlife! Elk are usually roaming around town… herds grazing in the fields or resting along the roads.
    The last time I went through Rocky Mountain National Park I saw two Moose and Rocky Mountain Big Horn Goats. (Eagles are common)
    Fishing is good and photography unbelievable!
    A side trip to breweries in Loveland or Fort Collins is worth exploring and the beginning of September Estes Park has a fabulous ScotsFest!

  • Reply
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