Situated about 90 miles northwest of Denver, at 7,522 feet above sea level, Estes Park sits in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Majestic views span in every direction along with the majestic scenes you expect from a Colorado mountain town-gold-medal fishing rivers, iconic peaks, fertile valleys dotted with wildlife-plus one unexpected treasure, a national park. Rocky Mountain National Park, home to 300 miles of hiking trails within 415 square miles of protected mountain wilds, borders Estes Park at its eastern entrance.
Since the late 1860s when Griff Evans established a dude ranch here, Estes Park has been welcoming guests with spectacular scenery and hospitality to match. Nearly 50 years later, F.O. Stanley of steam car fame further perpetuated the town's reputation as a resort destination when he opened his sophisticated namesake hotel. And on goes the rich history and notable legacy of offering guests an experience like no other.
Not surprisingly, mountain exploration remains a mainstay. Outdoor adventures run the gamut from hiking and snowshoeing to rock climbing and ice skating. Scenic drives show off the area, with Trail Ridge Road rising through the national park to more than 12,000 feet and several others wending through the valley, past historic landmarks and parallel to the fish-filled picturesque rivers.
In the village and along its edges, merchants, restaurants and accommodations acknowledge their Colorado surroundings by selling locally made products, serving regional fare and decorating in ranch, Western or lodge styles. Affordable, accessible and open year-round, the downtown exudes a casual feel in which jeans and cowboy boots are as common as sundresses and flip-flops. That said, some restaurants also cater to travelers seeking an upscale night out. Even in the shops and galleries, variety spins from high-end, one-of-a-kind items to whimsical trinkets.
Wildlife is so plentiful that elk often wander downtown streets. Visitors spy them and other animals while walking the path around Lake Estes, driving toward the Historic Fall River Hydroplant or touring Estes Park's last remaining working cattle ranch, MacGregor Ranch. Sometimes, it seems, the region's furry creatures outnumber the humans!
With all its adventures and amenities, including the bench-lined Riverwalk and charming sculpture garden, it's no wonder that Estes Park repeatedly earns recognition as a top destination. It has earned awards from TripAdvisor, Colorado Parent, the Weather Channel and many Colorado newspapers. After all, it boasts a strong history-and present-of hosting visitors with an authentic easiness that's congruent with a dream getaway to Rocky Mountain paradise.