Estes Park is definitely a destination where you get a lot of bang for your buck. The views are free. Entrance into Rocky Mountain National Park is $25/car for a day pass or $35/car for a week (that's cheaper than taking the family out to the movies). Our hotels and restaurants and shops are pretty darn unpretentious (and fun) as well. There's a free (seasonal) shuttle system operating within the town of Estes Park. And, as the following ideas demonstrate, "free" is still a thing here, too.
- Lake Estes
- Enjoy the lake in the heart of town while taking in panoramic views of the mountains surrounding town. The lake is home to some great birding and wildlife watching as well.
- The Knoll-Willows Open Space
- A little hike right downtown – walking up to the Knoll offers beautiful views overlooking the town, as well as a step back in time. Two buildings from 1907 and 1908 sit on the property.
- There are events year-round in Estes Park, but they really ramp up in the summer! For a full and complete list that you can sort by dates, categories and more, visit our events calendar. Find some highlights and larger festivals below.
OK, you’ll need some gas money, and maybe some loose change for a cup of coffee or some snacks, but otherwise these scenic drives are a great way to take in the sites of the Rocky Mountains for free. Of course, nearly every drive to and around Estes is free, but these two are our favorites. If you need a soundtrack to your drive, check out our Spotify playlist full of mountain inspiration.
- Peak to Peak
- Especially popular in the fall, due to the shimmering golden aspen trees along the way, this scenic drive is a great way to get to Estes if you’re headed in from further south. Featuring St. Malo’s Chapel at the base of Mt. Meeker, this scenic byway mirrors the Continental Divide offering dramatic views all the way down to I-70.
- Glen Haven to Estes
- If you’re coming up Highway 34, turn off to 43 in Drake to make your way up to Estes via Glen Haven. Plus, it only adds about 5-10 minutes on your drive. You’ll come into Estes at a higher elevation as you drive along the base of Lumpy Ridge, and get panoramic views of the Estes Valley, with breathtaking scenes of Longs Peak.