Wandering in and out of shops with a treat in hand is a quintessential mountain town experience. And when there is a river involved? Even better. Estes Park’s Riverwalk is not-to-miss.
Both Fall River and the Big Thompson River flow along the backside of Elkhorn Avenue, Estes Park’s main street, and is lined with trees, an easy-to-traverse path, wall art and mural-covered utility boxes painted by local artists. Mom and pop shops offer access to their wares from Riverwalk entrances. It is cooler on this side of Elkhorn and more musical too: trees provide refreshing shade and the sound of the water is soothing in its rush downstream.
Riverside contra chimes provide for the melodious amusement of children and adults alike. You might notice little bronze pika statues in odd places as you meander – these little guys are part of a fun scavenger hunt. Other bronze sculptures will catch your eye and the town’s interactive sensory garden will draw you in.
If you tire along the way refuel at one of the many restaurants along the Riverwalk or stop for a drink at The Slab Outdoor Pub, one of Estes Park’s patio bars, or a local coffee shop.
That path is about a mile in total, running from the parking structure to Performance Park. At Performance Park rest your tired feet in the river and check out the natural climbing wall behind the amphitheater before turning around for the return trip.
How to get there
Park at the free parking structure and seek out the sound of Fall River’s rushing water to the north of the structure then walk west, toward town, along it. Cross the bridge that comes up on your right and continue west along the river. You’ll pass a bronze veteran memorial on your left and then come to a fork in the path. Veer left and toward the underpass and you’re on your way!
Looking for more?
Walk around Lake Estes (or spend a whole day on the lake). On the return trip continue on past the parking structure and follow the path as it heads east toward the lake. You’ll end up on the Lake Estes Trail, a 3.75 mile paved path that circles the lake with killer mountain views from much of it. Make a stop at the Lake Estes Marina if the water is calling to you – the marina rents kayaks, stand up paddle boards, paddle boats and more by the half hour and hour.