New offerings and family-friendly, affordable activities create the ideal outdoor adventure destination
ESTES PARK, Colo. - Surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park just 90 minutes northwest of Denver, Estes Park is a true Colorado gem. The all-season destination offers guests affordable rates; minimal crowds and traffic; and breathtaking mountain scenery. With an abundance of outdoor recreational activities, optimal opportunities for wildlife viewing, themed events and a variety of accommodation options, the charm of Estes Park appeals to visitors of all ages. Included below is just a sampling of new happenings in Estes Park for spring and summer 2013:
- New Classes at Rocky Mountain Nature Association - Rocky Mountain Nature Association, an organization dedicated to educating guests about the availability and conservation of Estes Park's and Rocky Mountain National Park's abundant natural resources and outdoor experiences, continues its long-standing tradition of seminars and classes with new options for 2013. New spring and summer classes include a Grand Lake safari, "Thirteen Creatures You've Never Seen," "White Water Rafting and Eco-Adventure," "Secret Places in Rocky Mountain National Park," and a service learning opportunity with "Planting in the Park." Classes start at $10 per person.
- Active at Altitude Outdoor Training Classes - Estes Park is a premier destination for athletes looking to train at altitude, strengthening their lungs and increasing endurance. Active at Altitude offers new camps in 2013 led by experienced coaches and guest athletes - Women's Running Camps, Trail Running Camps, a Triathlon Training Camp, Endurance Training Camp (led by extreme athlete Dane Rauschenberg) and Squash High Performance Training camps. Rates vary depending on the length of the class, level of instruction and number of rooms needed.
- The Stanley Hotel and The Lodge at the Stanley have undergone major renovations. The Cascades restaurant now boasts an antique Whiskey Bar constructed around 1909. The bar offers approximately 250 different wine labels, along with the largest whiskey collection in the state. Additionally, The Lodge at the Stanley (formerly the Manor House) has undergone a complete renovation and now operates as a bed and breakfast. The Lodge at the Stanley has 40 rooms, and stays include a classic homemade Continental breakfast and afternoon tea. It is also a pet friendly facility.
- Aspen Lodge Renovations: The lakeside mountain resort recently completed a renovation with new bathroom granite counter tops and flat screen TVs throughout in addition to the property's 12 cabins being completely remolded and restored. The property plans to debut a new luxury spa in 2013 to complement its myriad of fitness programming.
- Grand Lake Adventure Bus Tour - Participants will receive a unique overview of Rocky Mountain National Park's (RMNP) history, flora, fauna, and geology while viewing passing landscapes from the comfort of an intimate 14-passenger van. Opportunities for photographs will be provided at many iconic park sites including the Alluvial Fan, Rainbow Curve, Milner Pass (the Continental Divide) and several historic sites. Both lunch and admission into RMNP are included in the registration fee.
- New Restaurant: Picnic in the Park - Opened in November 2012, Picnic in the Park provides handcrafted cuisine in reusable picnic baskets and backpacks. The deli, rotisserie, and pizzeria options cater to the mini-adventure needs of all types of Estes Park guests - from hikers who need small, power-packed foods to families looking for a picnic-style meal in town to people who want to stop in and ‘grab a pie' at the end of a long, full day of outdoor adventure.
Not-To-Miss Festivals & Events
- NEW! Stanley Film Festival at the Stanley Hotel (May 2-5, 2013) - The Stanley Film Festival will showcase classic and contemporary horror cinema at the haunted and historic Stanley Hotel (most famously known as the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining). The short and feature films from prestigious festivals around the world will aim to explore the vast spectrum of what defines horror in the world of modern film storytellers.
- Wool Market (June 8-9, 2013)- Home to one of the largest natural fiber markets in the nation, the annual Estes Park Wool Market festival includes two days of wool exhibits, sheep-to-shawl weaving demonstrations, sheepherding, fleece competitions and vendor booths featuring natural wool products.
- Estes Park Marathon (June 16, 2013) - In conjunction with the new Estes Park Trail Ascents - a series of trail running races in and around Estes Park, one of which corresponds with the first ever trail running conference in the U.S. - the Estes Park Marathon takes altitude training and competing to a whole new level. Voted Colorado's "Most Scenic Race" in 2012 by Colorado Runner, the Estes Park marathon features a Kids' Fun Run, 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon options. It is also one of only two races in Colorado that will encourage participation by VI or blind athletes in 2013.
- Fourth of July - Fireworks light up the sky and reflect over Lake Estes to create one of Colorado's most scenic firework displays. A variety of day time activities including a classic car show, patriotic concert and pancake breakfast make Estes Park one of the nation's most all-American mountain destinations to celebrate Independence Day.
- Rooftop Rodeo - Held this year July 9-14, 2013, the rodeo features professional cowboys competing in saddle bronco riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, bareback bronco riding, barrel racing and bull riding events. A variety of other family-friendly activities and vendor booth as also available for an authentic western-themed experience.
- Plein Air 2013, A Festival of Outdoor Painting (August 10-22, 2013) - For more than 12 years, the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park has produced a national plein air event in Colorado, attended by patrons and artists from across the globe. The Northern Rockies and Rocky Mountain National Park are some of the most spectacular places on earth, and during the festival, artists create and showcase unique works of art inspired by subjects like Rocky Mountain National Park, forests, river canyons, scenic highways and the sights of Estes Park.
- Longs Peak Scottish- Irish Highland Festival (Sept. 6-9, 2012) - As one of the largest Celtic celebrations in North America , the annual Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival boasts a variety of family-friendly activities including jousting competitions, bag pipe performances, a parade, Irish dancing, dog shows, traditional Highland games, arts and crafts and traditional Scottish/Irish cuisine.
5 Not-To-Miss Activities
- Wildflower Hikes - With thousands of acres of preserved wilderness nearby, the best time to view Estes Park in full bloom is from late May to early July. Popular wildflower hikes nearby include Gem Lake, Bridal Veil Falls and Mill Creek Basin.
- Inn-to-Inn Hiking - Guests can opt to take a guided, European-style inn-to-inn backpacking adventure along the famed Walter Tishma Way in Rocky Mountain National Park with Footpaths of the World, which offers a four-day adventure with seven to ten miles of hiking a day, culminating in evenings at intimate lodges and charming bed and breakfasts with a cold drink, a hot shower, a gourmet meal, a bottle of wine and a cozy bed awaiting guests' arrival. Or, more rugged, independent guests can embark on their own adventure using the inn locator map through the Estes Park B&B Association.
- Fly Fishing - As one of the most popular activities in Estes Park, visitors can take a free fly fishing lesson at Kirk's Fly Shop every Saturday. The shop also offers various fly fishing tours including a scenic horseback and llama pack fishing trip through Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Stargazing - At the Estes Park Memorial Observatory, visitors can reach for the stars with astronomy educational sessions and stargazing opportunities through the facility's high-end telescope.
- Museum Hopping - Estes Park is home to some of the nation's quirkiest museums including The Baldplate Inn Museum, which boasts the world's largest key collection; the Historic Fall River Hydroplant Museum where families can create electricity and view original machinery used by F.O. Stanley to power his hotel; and the MacGregor Ranch Museum, one of the nation's last working ranches that also doubles as a youth agricultural education center.