Tucked deep in the Rocky Mountains, Estes Park in Colorado is an outdoor paradise. Whether your kids are into biking, hiking, or adrenaline-filled adventures, this small city has plenty of activities to fill your schedule. Book one of many cozy Estes Park vacation rentals today. Check out the most prominent local attractions and family-friendly things to do in Estes Park.
1. Hike Rocky Mountain National Park
Explore Estes Park’s awe-inspiring surroundings with a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Bring your hiking shoes, and tackle one of the park’s many kid-friendly trails. Look for moose on the 1-mile, stroller-accessible Coyote Valley trail, or hike less than a half mile to a stunning waterfall on the Adams Falls trail. If you’re after great mountain views, head for the Milner Pass trail for stunning photo opportunities. In town, the paved trail around Estes Lake is a great spot for biking and walking.
2. Enjoy a Trail Ride
Get into the spirit of the Old West with a trail ride. A large number of stables in Estes Park offers activities ranging from afternoon rides to overnight camping trips. The experienced staff helps you and your kids learn how to ride safely, and well-trained horses make each trip a joy. For a special treat, choose a trail ride that includes a meal cooked by a real-life cowboy over an open fire.
3. Visit an Amusement Park
Prepare for a day of fun with a trip to one of Estes Park’s two amusement parks. At Estes Park Ride-A-Kart, ride the miniature railroad, take a wild go-kart ride, or cool off with a bumper boat session. The park also features an extreme trampoline, bumper cars, and a mini golf course. Fun City offers similar activities; plus, you can fly down the two giant slides or jump on the bungee trampoline. Both locations cater to kids and adults of varying ages, making them great for everyone in the family.
4. Try Mountain Biking
Get an adrenaline rush with a mountain-biking trip down Estes Park’s excellent trail system. Routes range from easy to advanced, so you can pick the section that’s right for your kids’ abilities. Head to Pole Hill for an intermediate-level ride on wide, multi-use trails. The trail that runs from Devils Gulch to Dry Gulch is a great option for moderate-level riders; a couple of steep climbs help your little ones burn off some energy.
5. Go Fishing
Pack your fishing rods and reel in a trout at Mary’s Lake, Fall River, or St. Vrain River. Alternatively, leave your car at your vacation rental and walk to the Big Thompson River, which runs right through town. If you want to fish with a view, head to Glacier Creek, Mills Lake, or Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park for rainbow trout and brown trout. Kids and adults ages 16 and older require fishing licenses, which you can purchase from any hardware store or local outfitter.
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6. Spot Wildlife
The mountains surrounding Estes Park are teeming with wildlife. Pile the kids into the car for a fun afternoon of animal-spotting. Drive through Estes Valley or Rocky Mountain National Park to catch a glimpse of majestic elk or nervous mule deer. Elk-spotting is easiest in the fall and spring. For a great photo opportunity, head to Sheep Lakes to spot bighorn sheep traipsing in the hills. Fall River Road and Big Thompson Canyon are also known for their sheep sightings.
7. Ride the Tram
Enjoy the view of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains from above with a ride on the town’s aerial tramway. The tram rises slowly through the mountains, allowing excellent vistas of the mountainsides. Disembark at the top of Prospect Mountain to check out the view from the observation platform. Enjoy lunch at the coffee shop, hike one of the nearby trails, or bring a picnic lunch to eat at one of many on site tables.
8. Go On an Above-Ground Adventure
Soar above the trees at Estes Park’s Open Air Adventure Park, where you can navigate a fun high-ropes course, cross bridges far above the ground, balance on a tightrope, or hop across moving platforms. Each ticket includes safety gear and full access to the park. The course is suitable for kids ages 6 and up, with varying challenge levels available for adults and teenagers.
9. Try Geocaching
Head out into the wilds of Estes Park for a geocaching trip. Download the Across The Divide GeoTour guide before you go, or pick it up from the Estes Park Visitor Center. Then, follow the guide and use your phone’s GPS to navigate to the hidden caches. Kids can have fun entering their code names in the log books, and adults enjoy seeing the sights along the way.
10. Get Educated
When the weather doesn’t permit outdoor adventures, head indoors to one of Estes Park’s excellent museums. Learn about the area’s history and natural formations at the Estes Park Museum, where a series of kid-friendly exhibits promote fun interactive education. If your kids are interested in art, don’t miss the gallery at the Art Center of Estes Park. Then, check out MacGregor Ranch Museum, where you can explore a historic ranch house and outbuildings.
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