To stay awhile

Estes is blessed with a big contingent of visitors who have come up for generations. In fact, about half of the Visit Estes Park staff first came here on vacation as a kid. And they all have one piece of advice--stay as long as you can. It’s the single best way to see more of the backcountry, find solitude, and experience this wondrous valley like a local. You can’t take those PTO days with you.

To see wildlife

Marmot Sitting UprightPerhaps nowhere in America is there such an abundance of megafauna so close to civilization. Just driving around town sometimes feels like a safari (no joke -- “elk jams” are a common event). See if you can spot each of our “mighty five” -- elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and black bear. Of course, there are also marmots, Steller's jays, pikas, mink, bald eagles… you get the picture.

To play hooky

Ouzel Falls

If you’re lucky enough to live in Colorado, you know that one of the best parts of living here is playing hooky here. Skip out midweek to beat the weekend rush (and the Front Range heat). If we were you, we’d hike early, maybe check out some waterfalls which will be stout this year after hefty snows this winter, and then hit an early happy hour, grab some dinner, and find a place to stargaze or watch the Big Thompson River flow. Then get a room and do it again tomorrow.

To see America’s highest rodeo

Buckin' Bronc at the Rooftop RodeoThe Rooftop Rodeo is a popular stop on the rodeo circuit because of the cool nights and chance to compete at 7,500 feet on some of the game’s best livestock. It runs from July 8 to 13 (with the can’t-miss parade through downtown Estes on July 9), and if you’ve never seen a rodeo in person, there’s no better first-time than the Rooftop. Our staff will be there every night.

To indulge in some old-school Americana

Go ahead. Get a box of salt water taffy and a T-shirt with an elk on it. Ride a go-kart. Hold hands and stroll the Riverwalk. Grab a bench and enjoy an ice cream cone. Say hi to someone new, who also came from far afield to enjoy the abundant, simple American vacation pleasures in Estes Park.

To get your race on

Estes has several races on the calendar from marathons to mountain bike epics. We’re biased, but the inaugural Visit Estes Park Half of the Rockies should definitely be on your radar. If you can’t make it for one of the bigger events, there’s a weekly fun-run that leaves from the Stanley.

To take a hike (duh)

Hikers and Dog Atop Kruger Rock

Hiking is the #1 activity around these parts. Naturally, RMNP sees the most attention and rightfully so. It’s not America’s 3rd most visited National Park by accident; its trails lead to some of the most beautiful high-country wilderness in the World. But, hint-hint, nearby Roosevelt National Forest has equally as good scenery and often fewer crowds--and you can take your dog with you.

To try something new

Stanley Park Bike ParkFrom mountain biking area trails or the bike park to rock climbing to horseback riding to fly fishing to paddling to off-roading, Estes is a hub of adventure and the perfect place to further hone your craft--or start a new lifelong passion.

To see some music

Performance-Park_Jazz-Fest

Local legend “Cowboy Brad” plays weekly John Denver-esque shows at Bond Park as part of a series of outdoor summer concerts in Estes. The Stanley has a live music series bringing in acts like Trampled by Turtles and Wynonna and the Big Noise. And there’s a lively music scene around town at local hangs like the Rock Inn.

To grab a cold one

Beer guys patioReward yourself with a specialty milkshake from Latitude 105, a smoothie from (believe it or not) Shakes Alive, or with a craft beer on a sunny outdoor patio. Here are some of our favorites.