The Perseid Meteor shower is an annual spectacle of "shooting stars," and Estes Park and its surrounding public lands are a great place to view it. Here's how--and when.
The Perseid Meteor shower occurs when the Earth's orbit passes through the trail left by the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris left in this comet's trail is burned up as it enters Earth's atmosphere, causing the brilliant display.
Earth passes through the debris trail from July 17th to August 24th, with the peak of the shower being on the nights of August 12 and 13, 2019 with the best viewing after moonset (3:21am on the 12th and 4:15am on the 13th) but before first light (5:40am on the 12th and 5:41am on the 13th). You can expect to see 60-70 meteors per hour. This meteor shower is one of the more brilliant annual showers and generally has good weather, being in August. You'll want to be patient, it can take about half an hour for your eyes to adjust to the darkness to be able to properly see all the meteors. But once you adjust, you should be able to see about one per minute. So grab a something comfy to sit (or lie) on, a beverage and some snacks.
You want to be somewhere dark (duh) with a wide view of the sky to get the most out of your meteor shower viewing. Getting away from city lights is a must, and Estes is a great place to do that. Rocky Mountain National Park offers a great dark space. Driving up Trail Ridge Road provides a wonderful panoramic view of the sky, and plenty of tour-outs to find the perfect place to stargaze and spot meteors. You could make your way all the way to the Alpine Visitor Center, and even take a short hike up the trail to get as close as possible to the stars and watch from nearly 12,000 feet of elevation. If you’re not looking to go that far, Many Parks Curve offers panoramic views, without as long of a drive. Hanging around town, you can hang out around Lake Estes or the Knoll-Willows Open Space.
If you're interested in astronomy and learning more about what is going on above us, visit the Estes Park Memorial Observatory. Home to a 16-inch telescope in a 16-foot dome, the observatory is a gateway to the sky located in the base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park. You can schedule a visit to be shared with other guests or reserve a private viewing on the Observatory's website.