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!
1. Take a ride on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway
We won’t lie, we’re suckers for aerial tramways. Sometimes they are that way for a reason something is popular with tourists, 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!
Note: Currently this attraction is closed while it is being transferred to new ownership. We will update this post once it is back up and running!
Address: 420 E Riverside Dr, Estes Park
Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 9am-6pm
Cost: $12/pp round trip
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
3. Visit the Stanley Hotel… if you dare
The Stanley Hotel is a haunted hotel 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)
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)
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
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
Cost:$12.99/lb (about 60 taffy pieces or you can always get less)
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)
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
Hours: 24hrs/365 days a year
Cost: $20/vehicle day pass or $30/vehicle 7-day pass
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?
Comments & Reviews
Rhonda Albom says
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.
Even photos cannot completely display the beauty here! You must go to RMNP next time. 🙂
Milosz Zak says
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.
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.
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. 🙂
What a fun adventure! Renting a jeep is something I would do. We rented one in Aruba, and had a blast off-roading.
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!
Teresa Gilbert says
I totally just want to jump in these photos with you! Looks like a major blast!
Teresa, thanks so much! We did have a fabulous time. You’ll definitely have to visit sometime. 🙂
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!
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!
Shayne Zalameda says
This looks exciting! I bet you two had a lot of fun! I wanna jump to those destinations right away!
Thanks Shayne! We really did. 🙂 You should go visit sometime!
You must go sometime! The views are epic and the beers are amazing too. 🙂
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.
RMNP is just like Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. Loved the place and photos.
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.
What an amazing place! I love the activities.
Most of all I like how you composed the pics. Makes me want to follow you!
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!
Sara Broers says
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.
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 🙂
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.
The tramway would be first on my list! I love epic views. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing. Happy travels 🙂
What a beautiful place! I wonder why Dream Lake got that name! 🙂
Thank you Pedro!I guess because it’s such a dream to look at! 😉
Jennifer McCallum says
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!
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!
Jocelyn Gonzales says
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.
Becky Knope says
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!
Really amazing content my friend! Thank you for sharing these information with us, they are really useful and helpful.
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!
Chris Parmeter says
been there 3 times always something you didnt see its stunning.
Serafina Spadaro-Meyers says
How is it in February? What activities are available in the winter? Thanks!
Patricia Skinner says
Estes Park Aerial Tramway is closed they are looking for a new owner
Thank you for letting me know Patricia! I’ll make sure that is updated and noted.