Think of Estes Park as one of the gateways to Rocky Mountain National Park. The town only has a population of around 6,000 people, but with the volume of tourists who visit Rocky Mountain National Park each year (over 3.4 million in 2014), the town becomes a tourist hub during vacation season. It’s a “front range town,” and is part of the geographical area where over 85 percent of Colorado’s population lives. Despite its comparably small local community, Estes Park can rival even the best of mountain towns. It has more than 200 retails stores, a thriving restaurant scene, and a constant flow of local events.\n\r\n
Estes Park often serves as the base for tourists visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. This is one of the most visited national parks in the country, according to Visitestespark.com. Taking in the mountain view from the park is a must, but there are activities such as horseback riding and seasonal sports for visitors as well. Tourists can also enjoy outdoor activities in Estes Park like wildlife watching, backpacking, or ice climbing in the winter. Wildlife in this area is so plentiful that you might catch a glimpse of elk or other woodland creatures even in downtown Estes Park. Strolling along the Riverwalk, visiting the whimsical shops and galleries, or participating in a cowboy sing-along are some options for a day in town. Estes Park also has several sites listed on the National Historic Registrar, and claims to house the world’s largest key collection. It has also been said that beer is an undeniable part of Colorado culture, and Estes Park specializes in handcrafted brews: lagers, stouts, different types of ales, and even root beer for the youngsters. The live music scene in Estes is also charmingly diverse, and different venues will host local and regional musicians and entertainers in the evenings.\n\r\n
Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t the only attraction when it comes to the great outdoors. Estes Park is surrounded by mountains, one of which is Prospect Mountain. You can make a day of hiking and exploring after taking the Estes Park Tram up Prospect Mountain, which will take you up to 8,700 feet in under ten minutes. If you want a change of pace, visit Loveland, “Colorado’s Sweetheart City.” Loveland became famous for its Valentine’s Day love stamp program, but also holds noteworthy and unusual events throughout the fall. They have a Sculpture in the Park event in August, where hundreds of local sculptors gather to sell their work, and the Stone Age Fair in September, which showcases the nation’s largest exhibit of prehistoric arrowheads. Boulder, Colorado is also a perfect day trip to see a city that thrives on enjoyment of the great outdoors. Boulder is another big tourist attraction, but its residents are just as active in their daily lives as the visitors.\n\r\n
Estes Valley has over 150 choices for overnight accommodations in various types, styles and price ranges. For the “outdoorsy” or “bare minimum” experience, there are campgrounds at Rocky Mountain National Park. There are different types of cabins and cottages available for booking as well, mostly along Fall River in the northwest quadrant, and Beaver Brook and Big Thompson River in the southwest quadrant of the region. The main hotels, lodges and resorts are also situated along the main rivers that cross diagonally in an “X” shape through Estes Park. There’s a nice selection along Fall River Road in the northwest area and along North Lake Avenue toward the eastern side of Estes Park. Motels and suites are more rare to find, though there are a few in the four “corners” of Estes Park. Most accommodations in Estes Park are clustered in the western side of the town because of its relative proximity to Rocky National Park.\n\r\n
There are free shuttle buses in the town of Estes Park that circle around the village. Free Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park shuttles make their stops around lodgings, restaurants, trailheads, and other attractions. There are five town shuttle routes that can get you around, and the Rocky Mountain National Park hiker shuttle that provides rides to the park. The downtown trolley is also an option for getting to one of the major local hubs. Taxis and shuttles available for hire will take you to places within and outside of city bounds within reason. . In addition, companies offering guided tours can get you or larger groups to Rocky Mountain National Park and other attractions.
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