Estes Park is the perfect mountain town escape from the fast-paced fun of Denver or the constant recreational stimulus of Boulder. In Estes, you'll find dining, fun, good beer and - because it sits right outside Rocky Mountain National Park - hiking, mountain biking, climbing and camping galore!
Driving into Estes — Photo courtesy of Julia Casey
Make your first stop Estes Park Brewery, where you'll find some of the most delicious micro-brews in Colorado. Throw back a pint of their delectable reuben. If you're visiting during the summer months, then try their seasonal passion fruit. Or drink the the Estes Park porter to warm you in the winter.
After you've had your fill, it's time to make your way into Rocky Mountain National Park for some day-long hiking and sightseeing. Be sure to drive along Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest of highways in America. And hike the Bear Lake or Cub Lake Trail for easy to moderate treks that will be enjoyable for the entire family.
If you're interested in something just a little more challenging, thenyou can tackle Longs Peak, the 14,259-foot mountain that stands like a snowy god above Estes. For hiking, the famed Keyhole Route will twist and turn you over 15 miles of lush Alpine forest and jagged rock. Note: Only those who have had time to acclimate and who are in very good physical shape should attempt this hike. For the climbers out there who would rather skip the hiking and just put hand to rock, the famed Diamond can be climbed via several technical routes.
After summitting a 14-er, you're sure to need rest and rejuvenation, in which case you should stay at Longs Peak Campground. It is located near the trailhead and just about 10-minutes drive from Estes.
Or, if you need something just a bit more comfortable, hang your hat at one of Estes's many mountain lodges, including Castle Mountain Lodge and Coyote Mountain Lodge.
On your way back to Boulder, swing through Estes one more time to catch a show and the 100-year-old Historic Park Theatre. This adorable venue shows one newly released and typically family-friendly flick for your enjoyment.
As you make your way back down to Boulder, be sure to stop off in Lyons, CO, for another serving of beer and soul food at Oskar Blues Brewery. You can even catch some funky, live music.
This daytrip is one that will leave you tired to the bone (but in the best of ways) and your belly full of beer.