Estes Park and Rocky Mt. NP, CO

If you’re visiting Colorado make sure you visit Rocky Mountain National Park. I just found some pictures of my last visit there and they inspired me to write a little about the destination. It’s less then two hours from Denver and right outside the town of Estes Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park is a cool little town with lots of shops and restaurants. There’s also a brewery, where we sat and watched elk walk by as we enjoyed a microbrew;  a glass-blowing studio, where you can watch demonstrations, and a history museum. The first time I ever saw an oxygen bar was in Estes Park, that’s also right downtown.

Estes Park, Colorado

The town of Estes Park, CO

A statue in Tregent Park, Colorado

A statue in Estes Park’s Tregent Park

Heading east out of town you quickly come to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s about fifty miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake on the opposite side of the park and the whole drive is filled with incredible mountain scenery. Elevations go from a little over 7000 ft. in town to over 12,000 ft. at a couple of the overlooks.

Mountains and trees in the Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

There are campgrounds throughout the park if you want to stay, both drive-in and backcountry. None of the campsites have water or electricity, so if that’s something you need, Estes Park (east gateway) or Grand Lake (west gateway) are your best bet for lodging close to the park.  I’ve never stayed in the park personally. My brother lived close by in Loveland so I stayed with him whenever I was in the area. One time we did stay in a cabin just outside of the park that was owned by the company my brother and sister-in-law worked for. That was a great experience, the fact it was free helped too.

Continental divide sign in Rocky Mountain National Park

A sign in Rocky Mountain NP marking the Continental Divide

     The continental divide runs through the middle of the park. All water to the west of the divide finds its way to the Pacific Ocean. All water to the east flows towards the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

     There’s also abundant wildlife to view alongside the spectacular scenery. Elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and lots of smaller animals call the park home. There are black bears in the park, but the rangers say they’re rarely seen. As for myself, the most wildlife I saw in the area was at the brewery in Estes Park. No pun intended, I’m referring to the elk.

    Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely a great destination if you’re into hiking. There are over 350 miles of hiking trails in the park providing everything from short, easy hikes to multi-day, difficult treks.

    Whether you make a little detour and drive through the park or spend a week, if you love mountains, “Rocky” is worth a visit.

Mountains and road in the distance in Colorado

The road through Rocky Mountain National Park

A mountain peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

The view looking north from Many Parks Curve

View coming into Estes Par, Colorado from the south

View entering Estes Park, Colorado from the south

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