There are so many amazing communities, towns and cities in western Colorado that all call to my sense of adventure and curiosity. The many that we have visited have not disappointed but have thrilled me with their beauty, history, quaintness and residents who are friendly and open to sharing their little piece of heaven with new comers. There is a prevailing positive attitude throughout Colorado that is evident in the way of life and the atmosphere of the communities.
Estes Park as seen as a new day dawns and the town begins to wake.
Of all of the small mountain towns we have visited in Colorado, Estes Park is our favorite and holds a special place in our hearts. We have had many amazing adventures in and around Estes. It is a must visit mountain town that is nestled in a cozy little valley and hugged by the Rocky Mountains. It is a popular tourist town so during the peak season, which is Memorial Day through Labor Day, it can be quite crowded. However, it is a place that we return to over and over and never leave disappointed. They boast many street festivals throughout the year and a downtown trick-or-treating bonanza that is hard to beat. But Estes Park is so much more than the shops and restaurants. It’s the friendly and welcoming attitudes of the locals along with the adventure and the beauty in the mountains that surround Estes that brings so many people back year after year.
You can reach Estes Park from different routes but the one I recommend is Highway 66 through Longmont, CO. By taking this route you go straight through Lyons, CO which is another beautiful little mountain town.
Stop in and purchase your lunch here. The fresh made-to-order sandwiches will make your taste buds happy!
You must stop at the St. Vrain Market, Deli and Bakery located right on Main Street in Lyons and purchase your lunch. They make the very best, made-to-order, sandwiches using fresh made bread, top quality meats and cheeses, and fresh vegetables that you will ever taste! Grab a piece of fruit, and a bag of chips made locally in Boulder, CO and you have a wonderful lunch that you can eat on the ride up to Estes Park or save it until you find the perfect spot to sit and enjoy the views and fresh air while you eat.
When you arrive in Estes there is a wonderful Welcome Center just on the edge of town. It is full of information on trails, adventures, history, places to eat, places to play, etc. It’s a great starting point!
Stay alert because you never know where you will see a herd of Elk in and around Estes Park.
Make sure that you do not speed while traveling around town as you arelikely to come upon a herd of Elk walking the streets. The town has invaded their space so they roam freely among the streets when they choose.
Kind Coffee is locally owned, organic and Fair Trade sourced.
Kind Coffee is possibly my very favorite place in theentire town. It is a coffee shop that serves the very best coffee you will EVER taste. I’m not a coffee drinker but I love their coffee…crave it even! Kind Coffee is a favorite among locals, and tourists as soon as they discover it, so there is usually a line out of the door during peak season. Don’t let the line discourage you. The baristas inside work fast while keeping a relaxed smile on their face and will be serving you your piping hot coffee before you know it. If you don’t want to choose coffee, you can choose from many different teas or other hot drinks. Just trust me and try Kind Coffee.
Estes Park is a place that many choose to stay while exploring Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The East entrance into the RMNP is located on highway 36 just 3.5 miles west of Estes Park. It is known as the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station and is a favorite starting point for many. When visiting Colorado let Estes Park be your base camp while you spend at least a couple of days exploring RMNP. It is one of the beauties of the world and you don’t want to miss out on seeing a little of it!
View from Lumpy Ridge Trail.
And if you don’t want to go into RMNP one day but want a great hike go to Lumpy Ridge. We have hiked this trail in every season and it is beautiful no matter what time of year! Although I will tell you to be prepared in the winter and early spring months for ice. The trail and surrounding area is magical looking in the winter with all of the snow and ice but you must have on proper layered clothing so you do not freeze and proper winter hiking boots to avoid mishaps on the icy path.
There are boulders to climb and little hidden caves to explore. You may even find a hidden treasure like we did while up there exploring. We put it back, after signing the box, just as everyone else ahead of us did, so it is up there waiting to be discovered again.
This was taken about a mile up the Lumpy Ridge Trail. The boulders on the left side of the photo is where we found a hidden treasure box inside of a crevice that opens up into a small cave.