Estes Park is a well-known summer resort-type statutory town located in quaint Larimer County.
Situated along the beautiful Big Thompson River, it overlooks the Olympus Dam and Lake Estes and is famously referred to as the state’s Original Playground.
Before the days of European settlers, the region was home to the native Arapaho tribe, who commonly called the area “The Circle”.
For the most part, Estes Park is renowned for its natural beauty, untamed wilderness, and numerous outdoor experiences.
Most active in the summer, it draws nature enthusiasts from across the country and is filled with parks, trails, and adventuring opportunities.
But even in winter, many Estes Park attractions remain active, with snow sports opportunities for people of all ages.
Of course, there’s more to the little town than just nature, even if that is its main draw.
Historic locations, museums, and famous iconic structures dot the region, providing variety to the verdancy of its green backdrop.
So, what should you do while visiting, and what are the things to see that aren’t to be missed?
Here are the 25 best and fun things to do in Estes Park, Colorado.
Things To Do In Estes Park
1. The Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel may be one of America’s most iconic hotels.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is most famous for its connection to the iconic horror novel (and adapted movie) The Shining by Stephen King.
It is, in fact, the hotel where King became inspired to write that 1977 classic masterpiece, which cemented the building’s status as one of Colorado’s creepy tourist attractions!
Many people genuinely believe that The Stanley Hotel is haunted, especially given its long history dating back to 1909.
Today, it very much embraces that reputation and its connection to The Shining.
In fact, every single guest room plays an R-rated, completely uncut version of the first movie adaptation of the novel on a nonstop, 24/7 loop!
Of course, there’s more to the Stanley Hotel than its spooky associations.
Located along the foothills of the equally iconic Rocky Mountains, it is incredibly picturesque and delivers gorgeous views of the untamed wildlife of the National Park.
Famous guests of all sorts have spent time at the Estes Park hotel, ranging from the Emperor of Japan to Theodore Roosevelt.
The Stanley Hotel is of Georgian architecture, designed with 128 rooms on a whopping 35 acres of land.
It was named after its creator, Freelan O. Stanley, who is believed to continue to haunt the location.
He was inspired to build the hotel after he spent time here to help treat his tuberculosis with fresh air.
If you’re particularly interested in the paranormal rumors of the hotel, book a spot on the Night Spirit Tour, hosted by the hotel itself!
Address: 333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most beautiful places to travel in the US is the Rocky Mountain National Park.
You can’t go to Estes Park – or to Colorado in general – without adding Rocky Mountain National Park to your list of what to do!
With over 250,000 acres of land and named mountain peaks totaling 124, there’s no surprise that it’s such a huge tourist draw no matter what the time of year is!
Rocky Mountain National Park is packed with sightseeing opportunities and many outdoor activities.
Outdoorsy individuals will love the many chances to bike, ride horses, camp, fish, and hike throughout the expanse of its 335 miles or so of trails.
These trails vary in difficulty, with options like the Dream Lake Trail for scenic, easy hiking for 2 miles, the Emerald Lake Trail spanning 3 miles for more of a challenge, and the extremely difficult Glacier Gorge Trail leading to Sky Pond for 10 miles of path.
The Rocky Mountains themselves are most visible from Trail Ridge Road, which maxes out at the majestic location of 12,183 feet above sea level.
In the winter months, Rocky Mountain National Park keeps itself busy with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding opportunities.
And of course, when it’s warmer, those interested in wildlife watching will have the chance to spot moose, elk, bighorn sheep, and more throughout the park’s expanse.
With deep lakes, craggy mountain peaks, meadows of verdancy, rivers against lush trees, and lots of campground space, Rocky Mountain National Park offers a perfect getaway this weekend.
Address: Colorado, United States
3. Lake Estes Marina
One of the most fun things to do in Estes Park is to head right to Lake Estes Marina, a lovely location for aquatic recreation.
The shoreline is ideal for sunbathing, the lake’s small expanse is ideal for fishing, and rentals for boats, canoes, kayaks, and life jackets add to the versatility of the location.
Not much of a water person?
You can still enjoy Lake Estes Marina!
The Estes Lake Trail winds around the main lake and runs for about 3.75 miles, providing opportunities for hiking and biking.
Views from the trail are always stunning, and you might be lucky enough to spot wildlife such as bears, bighorn sheep, and elk!
Address: 1770 Big Thompson Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
4. Estes Park Aerial Tramway
The Estes Park Aerial Tramway has arguably been among Colorado’s top 10 attractions since it opened in 1955, and for good reason.
Its primary purpose is to bring guests all the way up to the very zenith of Prospect Mountain, carrying travelers to 9,000-foot elevations.
It is open from Memorial Day up till Labor Day every year and is operated by the Heron family, which is the very same family that originally built the tramway!
Over 3 million individuals have been brought over forests to the top of the mountain since the Estes Park Aerial Tramway first began operations.
It is designed to mimic the tram model common in Europe known as the free span tram, involving the use of a cable that runs from start to finish without towers.
This provides ample clear viewing space for photographs without any structures getting in the way.
After you’re done making the trip on the tramway, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Longs Peak, the Continental Divide, and the Rocky Mountains.
There’s also a delightful little gift shop and coffee shop for snacks and souvenirs.
You can then enjoy the hiking trail that begins at the Prospect Mountain summit for some further exploration!
Address: 420 E Riverside Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
5. Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
The Peak to Peak Scenic Byway is the oldest byway of its kind in Colorado, making it one of the most relaxing recreational Estes Park attractions.
It is more than a century old and is a classic road trip location, moving from Estes Park down to the Victorian-era mining town of Central City.
With beautiful panoramic views surrounding the path of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, you’ll be able to feast your eyes on the glory of nature as you travel the route.
It’s a great way to see the Continental Divide, with sites like the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt National Forest, and Arapaho National Forest all visible during the journey.
Stops along the way range from campgrounds to ghost towns!
Address: 72 CO-7, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
6. Open Air Adventure Park
Open Air Adventure Park is one of the most fun and unique places to visit for an outdoor experience in Estes Park, Colorado.
Packed with all sorts of activities, it is an adventure location providing a total of 32 outdoor challenges that range in difficulty for people of most ages.
Among the things you’ll be able to try at Open Air Adventure Park include crossing moving platforms, tightrope walking, traversing bridges of rope, swinging from logs high above the ground, and ziplines.
Some of these things are up to 21 feet above ground level, but don’t worry – it’s all perfectly safe thanks to the use of harnesses and the guidance of knowledgeable staff!
The course is also self-guided, so you can take your time trying out each obstacle one at a time with no pressure and tons of encouragement.
Address: 490 Prospect Village Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
7. Rapid Transit Rafting
Whitewater rafting has always been one of the best experiences to indulge in throughout Estes Park and its near regions.
The warm months of the state of Colorado are especially good for this activity thanks to the swelling of rivers with snowmelt.
Rapid Transit Rafting allows you to enjoy those experiences with varying difficulty choices and numerous launch points.
At Rapid Transit Rafting, you’ll get to opt for adventures of your choice and be guided by experienced staff throughout the journey.
Equipment and high-quality gear are all available to you, and the excursion also comes with the gorgeous natural backdrop of the state’s wilderness views.
Bring an extra set of clothes, as your first ones are sure to get soaked!
Address: 161 Virginia Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
8. Estes Park Museum
Looking for some of the best places to visit in Estes Park?
The Estes Park Museum is one of the best places to go for those curious about the history, culture, and past of the local region, including the Rocky Mountain National Park near here.
The institute seeks to expansively catalog various objects and records of the town, housing a total of approximately 30,000 different items.
There’s something interesting for just about everyone at the Estes Park Museum, which has been in operation for approximately 50 years.
Postcards, photographs, tools, furniture, and much more make up the displayed artifacts.
Favored attractions include a genuine EX Stanley Steamer Runabout, which is a 1909 car powered by steam.
In addition, the museum has preserved a number of historic structures that you can visit.
One of these buildings is the Cobb-Macdonald Cabin, which dates back to 1908 and was a cabin for settlers.
Another is what was once the Rocky Mountain National Park’s center of affairs, now simply known as the National Park Headquarters Building.
Each trip to this lovely museum begins with a video that gives you a fascinating general overview of the town.
You can peruse the museum’s artifacts and exhibits at your leisure, learning about history dating as far back as the ice age that would lead to the mountains’ formation, the first Native American settlers, the 1862 Homestead Act, and the fur-trappers that made their way to the state shortly after.
You’ll then be able to move on to learn about the incorporation of the town in 1917, and finally, you’ll peruse some information about recent history, including a series of floods that plagues the town for a time.
Finish off with a visit to the gift shop, which sells all sorts of small souvenirs!
Address: 200 4th St, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
9. Elkhorn Avenue and Moraine Avenue
Elkhorn Avenue and Moraine Avenue are two fantastic roads that you can walk through in the downtown area of Estes Park, Colorado.
Packed with more than 200 different shops, it’s a fun way to explore local storefronts, galleries, restaurants, and more.
It can get pretty crowded during peak seasons, but that means it’ll be all the more lively as you explore this weekend!
Both Elkhorn Avenue and Moraine Avenue have interesting architecture as a result of some damage from 1982’s Lawn Lake Dam failure.
The flooding necessitated the rebuilding of some structures, leading to a mix of modern design alongside several more old-fashioned and rustic buildings from the homesteading era of timber-framed structures.
The result is a whimsical and picturesque locale perfect for a stroll!
Address: Estes Park, CO, United States
10. Kent Mountain Adventure Center
If you’re not sure what places to visit you should opt for in the backcountry area of Estes Park, Colorado, Kent Mountain Adventure Center can help you out.
Providing equipment and knowledgeable guides, it’s a great way to get around the area in an interesting way even when you lack the experience or skill involved.
Kent Mountain Adventure Center has been in business for more than three decades and has become well known in the industry for its instruction on rock climbing and mountaineering.
With experiences for people of all skill levels and varying lengths for different needs, they provide six different kinds of trips of different difficulties.
In the winter, options like snowshoeing, ice climbing, and skiing adventures are available, too!
Kent Mountain Adventure Center also has options for cliff picnics, cliff camping, rock scrambling, and youth camps.
The selection of programs and experiences is pretty impressive and changes seasonally, so check out what they have depending on when you’ll be there!
Address: 520 Steamer Pkwy, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
Exploring other parts of Colorado? Why not check out some of the things to do in Breckenridge, CO & some of the fun things to do in Boulder?
11. MacGregor Ranch Museum
Ranches have been a core part of the culture and history of Colorado for over two hundred years, a crucial source of economic and community activity.
The MacGregor Ranch Museum celebrates this legacy with a genuine, perfectly preserved ranch from the 1870s.
Today, that ranch is used to showcase the lifestyles and backgrounds of Estes Park’s first few settlers.
Despite its age, the MacGregor Ranch Museum manages to maintain much of its original appearance and condition until now.
Its rugged, rural, wild hay meadow environment and structure come complete with horses, cattle, and even ranch hands that continue to inhabit and work at the location.
During the summer, the MacGregor Ranch Museum is open in full force with guided tours and a range of working buildings.
This includes farm structures, a blacksmith shop, a smokehouse, a homestead, a milk house, and a fair few fields to explore and learn more about.
It’s no surprise that it’s one of the area’s most interesting historical tourist attractions!
Address: 180 MacGregor Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
12. Jackson Stables
Jackson Stables is a part of the Estes Park Center YMCA, which is situated within Rocky Mountains National Park.
It’s a source for one of Colorado’s most fun activities – horseback riding!
The stables provide guests with a range of experiences relating to everyone’s favorite equestrian activity, with trail rides, tours, adventures, and more awaiting.
For equine enthusiasts, indulging in an activity at Jackson Stables should be on your list of what to do in Estes Park.
A mix of different affairs, ranging from hour-long rides to ones lasting entire days, allow you to fully explore all the ecological and natural beauty of the region.
From glacial basins to meadows of wildflowers, you’ll find lots of ways to unwind and lots of things to witness!
Jackson Stables also offers wagon rides, hayrides, pony rides, children’s events, fireside s’mores roasting events, and more.
The property is fairly historic and makes for a delightful way to experience the greatest that the town and its wilderness have to offer!
Address: 9500, 2515 Tunnel Rd, Estes Park, CO 80511, United States
Looking for more thrill in Colorado? If you have more time and want to go exploring, here are some of the best things to do in Colorado!
13. Historic Park Theater and Cafe
Admittedly, there aren’t many deeply historical things to do in Estes Park.
So if that sort of enrichment is what you’re after, you shouldn’t miss the Historic Park Theater and Cafe!
It’s an iconic local landmark that dates back to 1913, owning the title of America’s oldest motion picture theater.
It’s a quaint and charming spot with impressive architecture that speaks of the heyday of Colorado’s turn of the century.
Despite its age, the Historic Park Theater and Cafe has been very much updated today, boasting neon lights across its impressive facade and state-of-the-art technology of surround sound and advanced digital projection.
Whether you seek independent flicks, blockbuster hits, documentaries, or even live theater, this icon of Estes Park will have choice entertainment ready for you!
Address: 130 Moraine Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
14. Fun City
Fun City has been one of Colorado’s points of interest for more than five decades.
As its name suggests, it’s a haven of exciting recreational activities that are fantastic for people of all ages.
It’s an amusement park that offers a choice of tickets for either all-day passes or limited few-hour passes, depending on how much time you have to burn during your Estes Park holiday.
At Fun City, there’s no shortage of things to try and ways to be entertained.
You’ll be able to go gemstone panning, play carnival and arcade games, try out bumper boats and go-karts, play mini-golf, hop on a bungee trampoline, use water walking balls, and much more.
For such a long-running amusement location, it sure doesn’t let itself get outdated, and its convenient location south of the downtown area makes it all the more accessible.
Address: 455 Prospect Village Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
15. Estes Park Memorial Observatory
Colorado is well-known for its open, darker skies and clear views of the natural horizon, which makes for some of America’s best opportunities for stargazing.
The Estes Park Memorial Observatory is one attraction that takes advantage of this specialty.
As a community and educational resource, it’s loved by locals and guests alike and is something of a hidden gem.
At the Estes Park Memorial Observatory, you’ll get to take in all sorts of stunning, jaw-dropping views of the stars and the heavenly bodies.
Knowledgeable staff, made up of volunteers, offer lots of educational information and arrange for viewing events of both public and private capacity.
Lectures involving cosmology, astronomy, and astrophotography are often held, too.
Address: 1600 Manford Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
16. Estes Park Outfitters
Not sure what places to visit while you’re vacationing in Colorado?
Estes Park Outfitters offers tons of seasonal adventure and outdoor tours that bring you to all the greatest locations in and near Rocky Mountain National Park.
Depending on when you go, the company will have something different to offer you.
In the summers, Estes Park Outfitters provides horseback tours that vary in length depending on how far you’d like to travel, with the option for multiple days of tour packages with meals and a cabin stay.
Winters bring with them backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowcat ride tours.
Finally, the fall comes ripe with guided hunting tours where you’ll seek mule deer and elk.
Address: 5229 Little Valley Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
17. Rocky Guides
One of the top activities that you can perform while exploring Estes Park and the natural world of Colorado is to go biking through the numerous available trails.
Rocky Guides offers a way to do that in an easy, engaging, and interesting way.
The company offers a selection of downhill bicycle tours of the area of Rocky Mountain National Park, with tours of varying difficulties and lengths.
Guests to Rocky Guides receive a helmet, bicycle, snacks, and water, so you don’t have to lug your cycling gear along with you.
The stunning scenery you’ll encounter on your journey will provide you with lots of photo opportunities and many sights for sore eyes!
Address: 2050 Big Thompson Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
18. Rocky Mountain Rush Wildside 4×4 Tours
The Rocky Mountain Rush Wildside 4×4 Tours company is famous for providing high-adrenaline tours with off-roaders throughout the region of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
It’s a great way to see some of the most iconic Estes Park attractions with more aspects of adventure and thrill this weekend!
Rocky Mountain Rush Wildside 4×4 Tours provides its guests with many choices of places to go.
They’ll bring you through hills, rivers, backcountry trails, and more with a mix of large and small group tours in their custom-made vehicles.
There will be lots of chances to take photographs along the way and even the chance to avail of tours that come with scrumptious meals.
If you’re looking for something more urban, they also provide a downtown treasure hunt experience!
Address: 212 E. Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
19. Yellow Wood Guiding
Looking to experience the full glory and beauty of the untamed wilderness of Colorado while you’re in Estes Park?
Then taking a tour with Yellow Wood Guiding should be on your list of stuff to do!
Small, private guided tours with a maximum of four guests provide an intimate exploration experience, packed with high-quality and knowledgeable guides and great equipment provided.
Yellow Wood Guiding offers a variety of tours catering to a number of different interests.
Wildlife and nature tours provide the ability to view all sorts of beautiful flora and fauna, and there’s also a photography safari tour that lets you take gorgeous photographs of the scenery.
Hiking tours for many different distances are also available for those who are interested in more physically demanding experiences.
Address: Estes Park, CO, United States
20. Colorado Mountain School
The Colorado Mountain School is one of the key places to visit in the area to learn all about wilderness survival, mountain navigation, and expedition safety and expertise.
The school has existed in many different names and forms since 1877, offering professional training and guides ideal for individuals who need a little help in their exploration of the town.
The Colorado Mountain School offers courses in ski mountaineering, rock climbing, avalanche education, general mountaineering, ice climbing, and even guide training.
A mix of full-day and half-day lessons are available, with the option for private guiding that you can book, as well as a lodge that you can use while you’re learning and training!
Address: 341 Moraine Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
21. Hermit Park Open Space
Hermit Park Open Space is a sprawling area of preserved parkland totaling more than 1,300 acres of ground.
Located at elevations of 7,800 to close to 9,000 feet, it is open from March to the middle of December and is one of the coolest tourist attractions in Estes Park, Colorado for those who want to really get back to nature’s roots.
Camping options are available all around Hermit Park Open Space, with cabin rentals, a large campground, and space for RVs and tents alike.
There are also lots of trails to explore that are ideal for biking, hiking, and even horseback riding.
Pavilions for picnics, fire pits for cooking, and open areas of wetland and forest make for an exciting and invigorating vacation.
Do note that camping permits are required if you plan to set up a tent or RV!
Address: 17 Hermit Park Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
Visiting Colorado Springs and Denver? If you do plan the trip, here are some cool things to do in Colorado Springs and some of the best things to do in Denver!
22. Seven Keys Lodge
If your preferences for what to do on your vacations lean towards the bizarre or unique, then you’ll have a lot of fun at the Seven Keys Lodge of Colorado!
Once known as the Baldpate Inn, it is the site of the world’s biggest collection of keys, boasting over 20,000 of them in total.
The building itself is a small little bed and breakfast, with the walls and ceilings holding the keys in abundance – and the collection continues to grow with donations every year!
Among the incredible keys hanging at the Seven Keys Lodge are those to the White House, Adolf Hitler’s bunker, banks that have been robbed, Frankenstein’s Castle, the wine cellar of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Pentagon, a piano, Westminster Abbey, Hollywood actor dressing rooms, and a monastery in Peru.
Keys come from all across the planet and are organized by location.
The keys at Seven Keys Lodge have been building up since World War II.
The inspiration for the birth of the collection was Seven Keys to Baldpate, a mystery novel.
The inn opened in 1917 and is still going strong.
If you have a key you no longer need, you can donate it to be added to the collection!
Address: 4900 CO-7, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
23. Enos Mills Cabin Museum
The Enos Mills Cabin Museum is a celebration of the titular Enos Mills, a man famously known as the Father of Rocky Mountain National Park.
He was a photographer, adventurer, guide for the mountains, lecturer, innkeeper, and author, and his passions lay in the preservation and conservation of land against industrialization and development.
For years, Mills petitioned the United States Congress and sought to educate them – and the rest of the public – on the importance of preserving natural landscapes, wildlife habitats, and scenery.
He built a cabin and homestead for himself in 1885, and it is now preserved by his daughter and son-in-law, Enda and Robert Kiley, who turned it into a unique location known as the Enos Mills Cabin Museum.
The Enos Mills Cabin Museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history, lifestyle, and culture of settlers in Colorado.
Located on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum is one of the most interesting things to do in Estes Park.
It operates by appointment, so call in advance if you plan to visit!
Address: 6760 CO-7, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
24. Purple Mountain Taffy Company
If you’re looking for points of interest in Colorado related to food for your sweet tooth, then the Purple Mountain Taffy Company will be right up your alley.
The candy business serves up unique and delicious caramels, salt water taffy, and other sweet treats to customers from all over the world right from their little Estes Park location!
The Purple Mountain Taffy Company has been in business for more than 50 years, utilizing the charm of family recipes and high-quality ingredients to provide delicious bites.
Their caramels range from classic flavors like chocolate salted caramel to more adventurous but still timeless options like raspberry caramel and caramel apple, and they also sell Bret bars and fudge.
You also shouldn’t forget about their famous taffy, which comes in a whole host of different options.
You’ll find choices like butterscotch, pecan, cherry cola, huckleberry, blue raspberry, sour watermelon, pina colada, chocolate vanilla swirl, birthday cake, bing cherry vanilla, and much, much more.
Basically, there’s a flavor here for pretty much any set of tastebuds!
Address: 121 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, United States
The Riverwalk of Estes Park is a scenic location famous with tourists for shopping and recreational use.
Busiest in summer but vibrant and lively throughout the year, it’s notably less crowded than the rest of the downtown area and is a great way to get away from the bustle.
The paved path of the Riverwalk runs alongside the path of Elkhorn avenue and the flow of the Fall River.
It’s lined with greenery and manicured flora that make it incredibly tranquil and relaxing.
Better yet, it doesn’t completely take you away from the charm of local businesses, as many shops have entrances facing the Riverwalk so you can explore.
As you dine at a quaint patio restaurant that overlooks the river, you’ll understand why the Riverwalk is one of the best Estes Park attractions!
Address: Estes Park, CO, United States
Visiting other areas of Colorado? Why not check out some of the best things to do in Fort Collins & some of the fun things to do in Durango?
Start Planning Your Trip To Estes Park
This town’s natural beauty, the wealth of flora and fauna, and deeply woven history make it a delightful vacation spot, whether you’re seeking summer adventure or winter experiences.
This list of things to do in Estes Park will help you decide on all your must-do things to see!