1. Rock Climbing
According to avid climbers, Estes Park claims some of the top rock around. With in-town locations and favorite spots inside the national park and the national forest, there are 1,227 routes to boulder, sport climb and traditional climb. Professional guides happily point the way to iconic crags, walls and edges, or escort folks new to the sport. Estes Park’s indoor wall is great for beginners and those seeking to climb when the weather is poor. Find routes at MountainProject.com.
Strap into a 4x4 vehicle for the ride of your life! A road trip like no other, off-roading in the Estes Park area presents a chance to see places and views that would be difficult to reach otherwise. Whether you’re belted into a customized rock crawler or a regular Jeep, the experience promises to be one of the highlights of your getaway. Terrain that stops other cars is no problem for these amazing machines. Follow trails in the national forest on your own, rent an ATV from an area outfitter or take a guided trip.
With the Big Thompson River running right through the village, Lake Estes to the east, Fall River
to the west and several other nearby blueways, anglers find many places to throw in a line. Although the waters teem with various species, fly fishers and spin casters often catch trout, rainbows and browns. In Rocky Mountain National Park, brookies, cutthroats, rainbows and browns also run. If you happen to catch a greenback cutthroat, you must release it. The fishing season goes year-round, but fall is especially beautiful because of the changing leaves. Sometimes it is nice to pair a hike with fishing. If that is your “best of both worlds,” consider The Loch, Dream Lake or Ouzel Lake. They each require a bit of hike to access (which sometimes means you have the water to yourself).
Everyone, it seems, loves the two golf courses in Estes Park. Elk and deer cannot get enough of the soft fairways and shady trees they’re often found bedding down there. Undaunted, golfers play through on both an 18-hole regulation course, which plays for a par 71 from the long blue tees, and a nine-hole course, which hugs the Big Thompson River.
Take a blanket and a basket, pick up some goodies from a local eatery or deli, and find your perfect spot. You might find it along the Big Thompson River, in the national park or at Tregent Park downtown. Really, with stunning views in every direction, you could set up pretty much anywhere.
Exploring the Rocky Mountains is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Hundreds of miles of trails crisscross the area in and around Estes Park, including in-town paths, such as those on The Knoll, pet-friendly tracks in the national forest and routes throughout the national park. Whichever you choose, you are sure to be rewarded with scenic views and maybe wildlife sightings.
A road cyclist’s dream, this region is full of paved routes that thread through the valley and prove anything but flat. Ups and downs, switchbacks, and narrow lanes keep rides interesting. Consider Dry Gulch Road or Devils Gulch Road near town. In the national park, test your pedal power by conquering Trail Ridge Road. After all, what goes up must come down
8. Standup Paddleboarding
New to Estes Park, standup paddleboarding (SUP) enables you to explore area lakes. Don’t have one? That’s ok, the marina provides rentals to use on Lake Estes. You may also take your own onto some lakes in the national park.
With more than 2 million geocaches worldwide, Estes Park must have some, right? There are more than 200, in fact! The Across the Divide GeoTour includes 54 caches between Estes Park and Grand Lake. Roughly 30 of them are found between the Alpine Visitor Center inside the national park and east into Estes Park. Pick up your GeoTour Passport at the Estes Park Visitor Center to start navigating or to learn about other nearby geocaches.
About 300 species of native and migratory birds flock to the Estes Valley, among them peregrine falcons, rufous hummingbirds and bald eagles. Birders will find many in the national park, but other areas are equally productive. Try the Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary near Lake Estes, Wapiti Meadows below the Olympus Dam and the inlet around Fish Creek Arm.