Perched miles above the northeastern Colorado prairies rests a bijou resort town evocative of 18th century simplicity. Affordable, cozy cabin rentals, genuine downtown charm, and dramatic panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains are just a few comforts Estes Park capitulates. Known as home base for Rocky Mountain National Park, the quaint town of less than 6,000 features tourists from all walks of life — from longtime hikers to happy honeymooners. Although a marketable tourist destination, things move a bit slower in Estes Park. You’ll delight in the collective calmness and antiquity of this seasoned mountain town. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing sabbatical or a challenging day hike, be sure to check out these regional landmarks and local interests to completely immerse yourself in everything the front range has to offer.
Rendering panoramic views of Lake Estes and Long’s Peak, lodging with The Stanley is a truly opulent experience. Featuring hundred-year-old decor and rooms furnished with hardwood chattels, the hotel continues to earn its place on the National Register of Historic Places. Its upscale dining room, Cascades, is complete with an expansive entree selection and a prodigious whiskey bar offering hundreds of spirits to give your night an extra kick.
Enjoy a cocktail by the fire, or mingle with other compelling ramblers in the hotel’s homey lobby. For the superstitious, The Stanley is well-known as author Stephen King’s inspiration for his fictional Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The hotel includes a number of attractions for horror fans, including a gift shop and a variety of Shining-inspired menu items. The hotel even offers haunted ground tours for the most valiant of guests.
Boundless in its beauty and opportunity, Rocky Mountain National Park offers more than 250,000 acres of mountainscapes, alpine lakes, and wildlife sightings. The park embraces a multitude of climates and environments each season.
All ages and athletic levels are welcome, as RMNP volunteers plenty of activities, from small looped hikes around breathtaking lakes to moderate and difficult hikes for more adventurous guests. Traversing Trail Ridge Road, the 48-mile scenic byway that stretches from Estes Park to Grand Lake, will leave you spellbound with its birds-eye-view of the park’s highest peaks and forests.
Open seven days a week year round, locally owned Snowy Peaks offers an array of Colorado wines including Merlot, Syrah, and Riesling. The winery’s selection of gourmet food from Colorado-based artisans gives this shop an edge on the competition. Take your glass to the tasting room, where you’ll be awarded with palatial mountain views. For families, Snowy Peaks offers free juice samples and a “No Wine-ing Zone” playroom for the youngsters.
Grab some ice cream at the Danish Cone Factory, see a film at the Historic Park Theatre and Cafe, and admire the sweeping views of fourteeners from the valley of downtown Estes Park. More than 200 local shops, restaurants, and attractions along Elkhorn and Moraine avenues offer various and sundry activities for any time of year.
Grab a drink at the Wheel Bar, or stop in for a slice at Bob & Tony’s Pizza to cut through the winter chill. If you’re lucky, expect to share the sidewalk with the wildlife that regularly saunter the town.
For a peek behind the curtain of time, visit the free Estes Park Museum for more than 25,000 preserved Colorado artifacts. Known as one of the state’s top museums, the local research facility offers a well-stocked gift shop to grab a souvenir for friends who couldn’t make it.
Converted from a laundry facility in 1935, The Taffy Shop has been hand-crafting mouthwatering saltwater taffy using the same recipe and four-step process for more than 80 years. Featuring dozens of daily flavors using gluten-free ingredients, this Estes Park staple affords you a guilt-free indulgence and the opportunity to support a local business.