A home base for travelers visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is less than a 2-hour drive from Denver. The park offers 355 miles of hiking trails paired with stunning vistas and landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to picturesque lakes and valleys, where those who crave adventure will find a myriad of outdoor adventures. Estes Park itself is a great area to explore, as visitors can meander the Riverwalk in Downtown Estes Park or hop on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway to the top of a small peak. Estes Park boasts a variety of shopping and dining experiences, while movie enthusiasts will want to stop by the world famous Stanley Hotel that was the inspiration behind Stephen King’s “The Shining.”
That was not my intention. We planned a trip from Florida to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for one of my freelance writing projects, and originally scheduled a day in Denver (at 5,280 feet in elevation) to acclimate. Frontier Airlines had a different idea. I heard alternatively that our plane had a mechanical issue, that weather in the Midwest grounded the flight, and that the crew went on strike. Regardless, the airline cancelled our original flight.
The Experience: Denver is the perfect urban adventure for anyone who likes midsize cities. It's easy to navigate and manage and doesn't feel at all claustrophobic, but offers endless cultural excursions, gourmet dining experiences, and a fun nightlife you'd expect from large cities. Make sure you visit the Denver Art Museum, check out the breweries in the RiNo neighborhood, and stay at the Crawford Hotel, which is in the old Denver Union Station. For a boutique hotel, stay at The Maven Hotel.