There are so many amazing communities, towns and cities in western Colorado that 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, and quaintness. There is a prevailing positive attitude throughout Colorado that is evident in the way of life and the atmosphere of the communities.
Of all of the small mountain towns we have visited in Colorado, Estes Park is one of our favorites. It 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 place that we return to over and over again and never leave disappointed. Estes hosts many street festivals throughout the year along with a downtown trick-or-treating bonanza that is hard to beat. 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 beauty to be found in the Rocky Mountains, that brings so many people back year after year.
You can reach Estes Park from different routes but my favorite is Highway 66 through Longmont. By taking this route you go straight through Lyons which is another beautiful little mountain town.
You must stop at the St. Vrain Market, Deli and Bakery, located 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! Grab a piece of fruit, and a bag of chips made locally in Boulder and you have a wonderful lunch. If you’re starving, eat it on the ride up to Estes Park but if you can wait, save it until you find that 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!
Make sure that you do not speed while traveling around town as you are likely 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 possibly my very favorite place in the entire town. It is locally owned, organic and Fair Trade sourced. It is 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. Don’t let the line discourage you! The baristas work fast while keeping a relaxed smile on their face and friendly atmosphere. They know what they are doing! Oh, and if you don’t want 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. I think you’ll be glad you did!
Oh, and if you don’t want to go into RMNP every day that you are in the area, but want a great hike, there are many trails to choose from in the Estes Park area that are not in RMNP!