Vacation Guide to Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, Colorado is easily one of the most scenic and pristine places in the United States. Serving as the headquarters for the Rocky Mountain National Park, it takes in many travelers each and every year. It's a nice enough place so that it receives many tourists, but is still enough of a hidden gem to be quiet getaway.
All of the information and photos in this article came from my own vacation trips there.
Video I Shot in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
The Front Windcliff Properties
Windcliff was where I stayed for the week I was in Estes Park. I stayed in a condo up on the mountain. It was even nicer than my own house. If you have the money to spend or a large family, this is the best place to stay. It's incredible at night with no city lights at all. Plus you can get peace and quiet away from the city.
However there are many places to stay in Estes Park. Some right in the city, some even further away. No matter where you decide to stay you will have an incredible view. The air is so fresh and clean, you will feel like you have never truly breathed before.
Millions of Americans each year use our national forests to go hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, swimming, horseback riding, and canoeing.— Ric Keller
The View in Estes Park
This was my view looking up from my condo. As you can see I wasn't even staying on the highest point. It should be noted that the drive up can be rocky and bumpy. It took a good 5-10 minutes to get up the mountain once we reached the base of Windcliff Properties. The view made it worth it though.
There are similar views all throughout the area. No matter where you go or where you walk, there is a forest constantly around you. You don't see tall buildings, urban decay, or highways everywhere. All you see is one incredible view after another.
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Restaurants in Estes Park
Soon after checking in we headed to the Dunraven Inn Restaurant. Unfortunately it was a holiday weekend and the place was packed. It took almost an hour to get our table, but the wait was well worth it! It was a nice place and the food was great. Even the wait staff were kind and friendly despite how busy they were.
There were many other nice places to eat as well within Estes Park. I don't think I saw any fast food places while there. They did have small, local diners. But the food in each one was excellent and worth the price. You can even visit the local grocery store to stock up on food to make yourself if you don't feel like going out to eat every day while there. But why would you want to? Going on vacation means eating the local cuisine!
The view of the Rocky Mountains from the Divide near Kiowa Creek is considered one of the finest in Colorado.— Bayard Taylor
Shopping in Estes Park
Shopping is so much fun in Estes Park. There are a variety of stores. Some sell candy, some sell Christmas items all year around, others sell rocks! I ended up buying a lot while I was there. One thing I purchased was a geode, which was broken right in front of me to reveal a nice crystal formation inside of that geode. That was one of the best experiences ever.
The prices are a bit inflated, but that should be expected since it's a tourist town and in a difficult to reach location. However, I have found items in Estes Park I haven't been able to find anywhere else. So do yourself a favor and set aside some money so you can buy all sorts of things while in Estes Park.
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Rocky Mountain National Park
This is one of the many lakes in the park. We traveled around the entire lake. It took maybe an hour, if not longer. The park services about three million visitors a year. As you can imagine the park is very high up, peaking at around 14,000 feet. Even at my somewhat young age I had trouble breathing sometimes. Once I got used to it, it turned out to be quite nice and refreshing.
The only warning I give is to bring water to drink, a walking stick, and someone to go with. For those who aren't used to the high altitude, it can really throw you for a loop. Having water will keep you hydrated, a walking stick can assist you when you feel weak, and whoever you bring along can get help if things get really bad. It's easy to find yourself deep in the forest without any assistance, so these things are essential. Once I made my second trip up there, I found myself used to it and could enjoy it for a much longer time. It even snowed at the highest peaks!
Location of Estes Park, Colorado
Waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park
I am not a huge fan of nature, but waterfalls always impress me. This one isn't near as impressive as some of the ones I saw throughout the park. However, this one was very loud since I was able to get up quite close to it. Water is flowing everywhere throughout the park.
There are various streams intersecting at different points in the forest. The water was clean and fresh. No signs of pollution despite the many visitors that are around the falls at any given time. The best part about the waterfalls is that they are within easy walking distance. So for those who do have trouble breathing higher up, you can still manage to see these wonderful acts of nature up close.
If you are planning or have been to Estes Park, Colorado, how long will or did you stay for?
Wildlife at Rocky Mountain National Park
Naturally up in the mountains and in a national park you would see some of the local wildlife. The biggest thing I saw was a deer. I also saw a lot of squirrels. Though when we first checked in we thought we saw a wolf, but in the end it was only a dog.
One thing I saw commonly is that the wildlife should not be fed, which was a common warning I saw. Now it's only natural for squirrels to romp around looking for food. But obviously there could be other dangerous things in the forest. I never saw anything, so obviously they avoid areas where people are located. But you can never be too safe. Don't leave food outside, secure your room so that all windows and doors are locked tight, etc.
Video Tour of Estes Park, Colorado
Unusual Things at Estes Park
You never know what you will find in Estes Park! I have never seen a DeLorean car in my lifetime. Well, on our way out of the city we saw two parked together. I had to admire them for a few minutes because I never seen one in person. I had heard they were collectibles. You never know what you will find when you are out on vacation.
There were many other things I got to see in person that I never thought I would see in my life. That is an experience Estes Park, Colorado can offer.
More Pictures of Estes ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Just a Small Taste of Estes Park, Colorado
The above information and pictures are just a small taste of what Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer. To get the full experience you need to go there yourself and take it all in. Hopefully this article showcased a small bit of the area's true beauty. You should plan to take at least one to two weeks if you want to fully take everything in.
If you have visited Estes Park before, share your experiences in the comments below.
© 2012 David Livermore