Plan a visit to Estes Park that revolves around art. Opportunities to admire, shop and create art are so abundant, you may have trouble finding time to hike. Here’s how to fill your days.
Create your own art walk
This complete list of art galleries span Elkhorn Avenue (Estes Park’s main street) and beyond. Choose your favorites for a custom art walk, or visit a few each day of your trip. The galleries showcase Colorado and Estes Park artists whose work is a joy to explore.
Take a photography tour
Yellow Wood Guiding and Dawn Wilson Photography offer tours and workshops to teach you how to take excellent photos, even if you only have a smartphone camera. Or, create your own wall-worthy photos without instruction on any of Estes Park’s tours. This is a great way to pair art and nature since tour locations are generally in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Discover art along the riverwalk
The riverwalk runs along the south side of Elkhorn Avenue, behind the shops that line the street. Many of the shops display wares and some have placed pieces of art at their back entrances that abut the riverwalk. Electrical boxes on the path have been painted by local artists and you’ll spot one mural along the way, as well as a few bronze sculptures in George Hix Riverside Plaza, located on the western end of the riverwalk.
Make your own art
Inspired Artisan Market & Studio and Creativity Cabin offer experiences where you can be the artist. Inspired offers workshops and weekend retreats on subjects such as oil painting, weaving, sculpture and alcohol inks. Creativity Cabin is a creative space for pottery painting. Painters choose from a wide array of pieces and paint on site. The studio then fires pieces and makes them available for pick up. Both offer to-go art kits if you’d rather bring one back to your lodgings to work on after a day around town.
Have an old-time portrait taken
Admittedly, this isn’t art you’re making, necessarily, but you do participate, and it does result in something you’ll hang on your wall. There are two shops that offer this fun experience: Memories Old Time Portraits and Real West Old Time Portraits.
YMCA of the Rockies Craft and Design Center
The opportunities to create seem endless at the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center’s craft center. Choose from tie dye, jewelry making, wood and leather crafts, glazed and painted ceramics and mosaics. You don’t have to stay at the YMCA to partake—day passes are available and will give you access to the many other activities on the campus.
Go to an art event
This one will require a bit more planning, but it’s worth it. Throughout the year, Estes Park hosts numerous art-related events that make a perfect anchor to any art-filled vacation. Here’s a quick list:
- First Friday! Art Groove: takes place on the first Friday of every month, year round.
- Memorial Day Art Market: each year an art market featuring Colorado artists takes place throughout the Memorial holiday weekend.
- Labor Day Arts & Crafts Show: similarly, each year an arts and crafts show takes place over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
- Fine Arts & Crafts Festival: this annual festival takes place in mid-September.
- Monday Artisans Market: cancelled for 2021 due to COVID, this summer-long event will be back in 2022, so is worth mentioning here. This market takes place in George Hix Riverside Plaza throughout the summer (normally) and consists of vendors from around Colorado.
- Wool Market: held annually in June, this fiber-art focused event is wildly popular. The event features a vendor barn, animal tents, demonstrations and more.
Take a bronze sculpture walking tour
13-plus bronze sculptures can be found in and around Estes Park. Use this guide to find each one, as well as to learn about the stories behind them.
Take a break to listen to musical artists perform around Estes Park. Use this running list to help plan when and where.
Estes Park will install a new bronze sculpture this fall: a monument dedicated to the historical women of the Estes area. The monument will be located along the riverwalk, near the intersection of Elkhorn Avenue and Riverside Drive. Keep an eye out for information on the installation in the coming weeks.