As the mercury drops and the snow falls, plan an epic getaway with you and yours to beat the winter blues. Colorado’s Estes Park is one of the best spots to relish a chilly holiday, thanks to its expansive list of to-dos. With the frosty season closing in, here’s a seven-day guide to a fun-filled winter in Estes Park.
Day 1: Take a Snowshoe Tour in Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park covers over 265,000 acres, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery, which includes gorgeous alpine lakes and massive mountain peaks. During winter, the park transforms into a snowy wonderland with low visitor numbers, making it an excellent time to beat the crowds. As the flakes cover the ground, most of the park’s trails transform into snow-packed pathways, making them ideal for a snowshoeing excursion. Take a full-day private snowshoe tour to experience scenic terrain as you travel to Emerald Lake and explore deeper parts of the mountains. If you’re looking for something less extreme, try the Emerald Lake Private Snowshoe Tour and head out on a four to five-hour experience of the Bear Lake Trailhead. The trail climbs into the subalpine forest, passing by the picturesque frozen Dream and Nymph Lakes. Once you arrive at Emerald Lake, enjoy the enormous cliff face of the Continental Divide and Hallett Peak. Both tours include top-notch snowshoeing gear, snacks, and lunch and accommodate up to 12 people, making them ideal for large groups. The snowshoeing excursions feature professional guides with years of experience regarding the area’s terrain and wildlife for the ultimate outdoor experience.
Day 2: Catch a Movie at a Local Theater
Movies capture the imagination by transporting you to an alternate reality, if only for a few hours. While in Estes Park, head to Reel Mountain Theatre and relish the latest blockbusters at this famous cinema hall. The family-owned theater lies in Stanley Village at the heart of the town, making it easily accessible. Doors open every day of the year, giving you daily access to the shows throughout your winter in Estes Park. Thanks to a joint effort with the local Community Hearing Center of Estes Park, Reel Mountain Theater offers headsets to patrons with hearing impairment. The theater has four cinema halls with cozy seating, ideal for a laidback viewing experience. Enjoy their famous butter popcorn and an expansive variety of snacks and beverages for the ultimate cinema feel. A suitable alternative to Reel Mountain is Historic Park Theater, the US’s oldest motion theater, dating back to 1913. This vintage cinema hall got some recent updates, including a new digital projector, a Dolby 5.1 surround sound system, and a new screen to deliver a state-of-the-art experience. Both cinemas offer diverse films, including the latest releases, promising a riveting time for you and your loved ones.
Day 3: Ride the Mustang Mountain Coaster
The Mustang Mountain Coaster is one of Colorado’s most thrilling rides, combining an exciting experience with gorgeous views. Much like conventional roller coasters, the Mustang Mountain coaster uses gravitational potential energy to power the downhill descent. The coaster is about 2,000 feet long, offering epic 360-degree drops, loops, and turns. The ride lasts nearly four minutes, reaching up to 25 miles per hour. The experience begins with a two-minute, forty-second cable-powered ascent to the top, offering incredible panoramic views. Once the cart reaches the top of the hill, it turns right, launching you into a thrilling, fast-paced descent that lasts for around 60 seconds. The coaster has a manual brake, allowing you to control how fast your ride goes. Pull on the brakes and slow things down for an extended experience if the ride feels too fast. The ride offers an option of two seats, allowing parents to tag along with kids as young as three years old. A one-ride pass will set you back $20, while a single-person three-ride pass costs $35. One of the best parts about the ride is you don’t have to have any prior training or experience. Hop on and relish the thrilling descent on this adrenaline-pumping ride.
Day 4: Watch the Wildlife
Estes Park has a robust collection of wildlife species, making it a hotspot for wildlife viewing. Trail Ridge Road starts in Estes Park and cuts through Rocky Mountain National Park, offering an abundance of animal and plant species. The trail stretches for 48 miles, making its way through beautiful scenery, including tundra, green forests, and alpine flowers, offering breathtaking views throughout. Look out for moose along the road and marmots among the boulder fields. Lake Estes is an excellent place for birding, with species such as sandpipers, waterfowls, and gulls lining the shores. You’ll likely spot the famous bald eagle on the lake’s northern end, while the Matthews-Reeser Bird Sanctuary in the south offers a decent outlook for swans, redheads, pelicans, mallards, and Canadian geese. Sheep Lakes is home to elk and an expansive collection of bighorn sheep surrounding the area for the lake’s nutrients. Fall River Road features an 11-mile route from Horseshoe Park, offering views of wild turkeys, elk, bighorn sheep, and moose. The Estes Park Visitor Center also offers scenic views of the area’s wildlife, with elk frequenting the nearby open meadow. Downtown Estes Park also features smaller mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. While it may be tempting to get up close, remember to keep a distance from the animals as a safety precaution. Carry a zoom lens and capture stunning close-up shots.
Day 5: Explore the Culinary Scene
Estes Park has an impressive collection of over 60 restaurants serving culinary delights. For the best breakfast in town, head to The Eggs of Estes and enjoy sumptuous sandwiches, including Cheddar Cheeseburger, Grilled Chicken, Turkey Apple Croissant, Chicken Apple Walnut, Chicken Ranch Wrap, Classic Club, and Reuben. Choose from an impressive selection of add-ons and sides, which include steel-cut oatmeal, seasonal fresh fruit bowls, biscuit &gravy, bacon, pork or turkey sausage patties, and English muffins or toast. Other renowned eateries serving delightful breakfast menus include Claire’s Restaurant and Bar, Big Horn Restaurant, and Mountain Home Cafe.
After a morning of adventure in Estes Park, head to Ed’s Cantina & Grill and relish a tasty lunch. Kick things off with a starter and choose from plantains, bacon-wrapped jalapenos, guacamole, or plantains. Next, choose from several burger and sandwich options, including the bison burger, Cubano torta, Sonoran hotdog, or poblano cauliflower grilled cheese. Enjoy seven taco options, which include carnitas tacos, fish tacos, barbacoa tacos, steak tacos, chicken tacos, jalapeno falafel tacos, and bison tacos. Specialties include rainbow trout, bison enchiladas, veggie enchiladas, and chimichanga. Additional spots for lunch include Antonio’s Real New York Pizza, Notchtop Bakery & Cafe, and Poppy’s Pizza & Grill. End your day with a lovely dinner at Rock Inn Mountain Tavern.
Begin your evening with an appetizer of elk sausage, Spicy Corn Dip, Loaded Potato Soup, or Chuck’s Buffalo Wings. If you’d rather keep things light, choose from a Caesar Salad, Heritage Salad, Wild Basin Salad, or House Salad. Explore their entrees, which include Cajun Trout, Filet Mignon, Lemon-Dill Butter Trout, New York Strip, Roasted Peper Salmon, and Bison Meatballs. The dessert menu features chocolate chip cheesecake, brownie Sundaes, plain brownies, ice cream, and Strawberry Mango Cheesecake. Other notable dinner restaurants include Himalayan Curry & Kebab, Bird & Jim, and Dunraven.
Day 6: Go Bowling
Bowling is an excellent way to spend quality time with loved ones as you go head-to-head for bragging rights. While in Estes Park, The Bull Pin is the ultimate go-to for the best bowling experience in town. This Estes Park favorite features eight bowling alleys, perfect for a thrilling day of knocking down pins. The bowling pricing is an hourly rate of $29 per lane, with up to six people per lane allowed. Bowling shoe rentals cost $4, while bowling socks cost $2.50. Head to their website to reserve your bowling lane, and choose from a one-hour, one-and-a-half-hour, or two-hour session.
After your bowling escapades, relax at The Bull Pin Sports Bar and catch all your favorite games on a massive 150-inch projector with sound for the ultimate viewing experience. The bar has an expansive variety of programming, including ESPN, SEC Network, NFL Sunday Ticket, Big 10 Network, and Fox Sports. You can also head to the arcade and enjoy Estes Park’s newest arcade, with game installments from 2022 and 2023. The arcade has an impressive array of games for kids and adults, and you can redeem your tickets for prizes at the redemption counter.
If you work up an appetite, enjoy a tasty variety of delightful meals, including handhelds, shareables, greens, pizzas, and a kids’ menu for the little ones. Choose from several beers and wines to wash down your meal.
Chipper’s Lanes is Estes Park’s second bowling alley, featuring eight lanes, arcade games, and sumptuous treats, including appetizers, pizzas, and burgers. The venue operates seven days a week, and one of the best parts is kids bowl for free.
Day 7: Enjoy a Soothing Spa Session
After a long week of exploring the beauty and majesty of Estes Park, end your vacation with a visit to one of the local spas for a relaxing massage session. Qi Lounge Wellness Spa is one of the city’s most renowned wellness spas. The spa offers a full suite of services designed to revitalize both body and spirit.
Try one of their spa medleys, which combine treatments into a multi-part rejuvenation from head to toe. For instance, the Macadamia & Nectar Skin Ritual features a body scrub with pure macadamia oil and sugar scrub to cleanse and soften the skin before it is hydrated by warmed macadamia lotion. Next, a honey apricot milk bath with delicate rose petals will deliver essential amino acids and vitamins to further boost your skin’s glow. End with the Extended Deluxe Hydrafacial to exfoliate and hydrate your face and neck while enjoying a soothing massage for your arms, hands and feet. The full experience lasts 105 minutes and will leave you feeling blissful.
If you’re vacationing with your partner, Qi Lounge’s Bilateral Bliss Duet is the ultimate couple’s spa experience. Enjoy a duo mineral-salts soak together in a private 2-person soaker tub to soften your skin and reduce tension, followed by the spa’s 60-minute Qi Signature Massages and Gemstone Repair Facials.
Book Your Estes Park Vacation Rental Today
Estes Park draws over four and a half million annual vacationers thanks to its impressive variety of attractions. Winter is a unique time of year to visit this Colorado gem, with numerous activities on the table. From thrilling outdoor tours of the Rocky Mountain National Park to fun-filled rides down the Mustang Mountain Coaster and an array of wildlife species, Estes Park has it all. As you plan your Colorado getaway to this famous city, look to Mountain Village at Estes Park for the best vacation rentals in the city. We offer exquisite single-family properties with ample amenities for a relaxed holiday experience. Our cabins feature comfortable living spaces, fully equipped kitchens, luxurious bedroom suites, and elegant bathrooms. Enjoy additional utilities such as indoor and outdoor fireplaces, heating and cooling to ensure a comfortable living environment, outdoor patios with seating, lofts overlooking the family room, and picturesque views of Lake Estes and the surrounding mountains. Relish the convenience of The Dunraven, an on-site restaurant where you and your loved ones can enjoy a lovely meal close to home. Enjoy a soothing massage at The Qi Lounge, an on-site wellness spa.
Select custom dates or book a weekly, monthly, or long-term stay if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the suburbs. Contact us today to secure your Estes Park luxury cabin and experience a memorable winter in Estes Park.