I took a 10 day road trip through to 6 different National Parks in Colorado and Arizona during April 2019. One of the last stops on that trip was to Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. I only spent two days in the park, but with it covering 265,000 acres, there is so much to do, especially if you like hiking or wildlife. Check out my favorite spots in the park below!
Bear Lake Road
On the east side of the park from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, you can head south toward Bear Lake. Along this route you will find a few lakes, various opportunities for hiking, and picnic areas. My favorite of the list is Sprague Lake. There’s a walking path around the lake and from the other side, you have a beautiful view of the mountains in the background. It was so scenic and peaceful, I can’t recommend it enough.
- Hiking – Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, Storm Pass Trailhead, Hallowell Park Trailhead, Fern Lake Trailhead
- Lakes – Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, Bierstadt Lake
- Picnics – Sprague Lake, Hallowell Park, Fern Lake
Trail Ridge Road
This road passes east to west over the top of the range at 12,000 feet above sea level. It’s closed from October through May to through traffic over the pass due to snow. When I visited in April, the farthest I could go on the east side was to Rainbow Curve.
- Scenic Vistas – Many Parks Curve, Rainbow Curve, Medicine Bow Curve, Farview Curve,
- Hiking – Coyote Valley Trailhead, Baker/Bowen Trailhead, Timber Lake, Tundra Community Trailhhead, Forest Canyon
- Other Worthwhile Stops – Iceberg Pass, Gorge Range, Lake Irene
Downtown Estes Park
Estes Park is the closest town to the east side entrance to the park. You’ll find many many hotels and restaurants in this area.
- Ridgeline Hotel – I stayed here for two nights. They had a great bar/restaurant area where I ate the first night, a fun Colorado mountain inspired room, and fire-pits outdoors that I definitely enjoyed. It’s a quick trip to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.
- Kind Coffee – A great coffee spot not far from the Ridgeline Hotel. Easy walking to other downtown spots.
- Inkwell and Brew – Cards, Coffee, Journals. Super cute spot downtown.
- The Egg of Estes– Great spot for breakfast. A mix of a dinner and local country restaurant feel.
If you end up in the area, some other towns nearby to check out include Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver. You could also explore northwest of the park to see the Arapho National Wildlife Refuge. Other popular mountain peaks are the Twin Sisters Peaks west of Denver and Long’s Peak that’s a bit further west.
Colorado during any season is beautiful, but if you can get there during the summer months when the Trail Ridge Road is open, that would be my best recommendation on when to go to explore the most the park has to offer.