While Estes Park is certainly known as the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, there is much to be seen that sits outside the park’s bounds. For those with the willingness to go off the beaten path, stunning sights and exciting activities with fewer crowds await. Consider spending time at these top 5 under-the-radar Estes Park CO attractions to experience the full realm of what this mountain town has to offer!
YMCA of the Rockies
Set on over 800 acres dotted with ponderosa pines and sweeping views, the YMCA of the Rockies is a great location to delve into a variety of outdoor activities. From unique activities such as archery and axe throwing to plenty of space to roam on a biking or hiking route, you’ll find a variety of family-friendly activities available at the YMCA of the Rockies. During winter months, participate in activities such as snowshoeing, sledding, and ice skating, or warm up with a climb on the indoor climbing wall or a swim in the heated pool. When the snow has melted from the ground, miles of hiking and biking trails are revealed, in addition to activities such as sand volleyball, mini-golf, and disc golf.
Estes Park Visitor Center
Get all the information you need to make the most of your Estes Park stay, and the things to do in Estes Park, when you stop in at the Estes Park Visitor Center. The friendly staff here are more than willing to answer questions about Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, and there is an onslaught of information on the area’s best restaurants, shops, and activities. Enjoy free parking and shuttles to various locations in downtown Estes Park from the Estes Park Visitor Center. Not only is a stop here informative, but this also happens to be a great location to soak in scenic views of Estes Park and its resident wildlife. The area is surrounded by picturesque waterways, quaint bridges, and open fields. Elk can often be seen in the fields near the Visitor Center, providing a glimpse into the wildlife that will be seen as you delve further into Rocky Mountain National Park.
Lily Mountain Trail
It’s no secret that Rocky Mountain National Park boasts innumerable stunning hikes. But to bypass the crowds on the park’s popular trails, those in the know often opt for the trails that lie just outside the park’s bounds. Situated just outside the park’s eastern boundary, Lily Mountain Trail is a great under-the-radar hiking option for those basing their stay in Estes Park. This trail winds its way through forests and rock formations before it opens up on a flat rocky summit. From the peak, admire views across Rocky Mountain National Park that include notable sites such as Twin Sisters Peak, Longs Peak & Mt. Meeker, Hallet Peak, Flattop Mountain, and Ypsilon Peak, among others. At four miles round trip, this hike is great for any season – even during the winter months.
Get a glimpse into the first settlements of the area as you follow old wagon routes through beautiful scenery that passes by original homesteads dating back hundreds of years. While there are numerous homesteads spread out across nearly 15 miles, Irvin Homestead is the most intact and impressive. A bathhouse, sawmill, barn, and main house make up the majority of the buildings. Inside, many items have been left in place over the years, seemingly frozen in time. Baking implements hang on the shelves in the kitchen and washtubs and woodworking tools are tucked away in the sawmill, providing a glimpse into the simple and remote life that was lived here long ago. Homestead Meadows is a 7.5-mile loop trail that offers scenic views and a glimpse into the area’s history.
Things to Do in Estes Park at Lake Estes
While the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park is home to numerous alpine lakes, the mountain town of Estes Park also boasts its own stunning lake situated to the east of downtown. With a shoreline of approximately four miles and plenty of surface area for exploration, Lake Estes makes both a great addition to the area’s stunning scenery as well as a destination for water activities during warmer months. Kayak, stand up paddleboard, canoe, paddleboat, fish, or explore via pontoon boat on this beautiful lake, with gear all easily rented from the Lake Estes Marina. When temperatures are too cool to hit the water, the paved multi-use path that encircles the lake is a great way to get in some exercise while enjoying the water views. And if you want to enjoy a lakeside vacation, the luxury cabins situated along the lake’s northern shoreline at Mountain Village at Lake Estes are a great place to base your stay!
Venture off the heavily trodden path to discover the hidden gems in these top 5 under-the-radar Estes Park CO attractions! Contact us to learn more today!