Estes Park is home to the headquarters of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and for many visitors, it’s the first stop en route to a Rocky Mountain vacation. Find yourself passing through to pick up maps and check trail conditions, or stay for a weekend getaway that offers unbeatable access to the Rockies, meaning you can hike all day and dine and unwind at night. The lively town has plenty of entertainment like the downtown Riverwalk, Aspen and Evergreen Gallery, and the historic Stanley Hotel.
More than 3,000 elk, 800 bighorn sheep and herds of mule deer and moose live in the park. For the best photography lighting and opportunities to spot massive bugling elk, head to Moraine Park just after sunrise. View bighorn sheep at Sheep Lakes May through mid-August and catch a glimpse of RMNP’s ever-elusive moose population along the Colorado River in the Kawuneeche Valley on the park's west side.
Putting my Rocky Mountain inspired rectangles away until February, I eventually knitted up the remaining pieces and ironed the whole thing out before I framed the simple square and placed it on my beige wall. Perhaps I needed the chill of winter to remind me of the brisk breeze of that famous mountain range, maybe I briefly tired of sweater and cardigan projects, captivated instead by the simplicity of knit-purl in straight lines.
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Now part of the Estes Park Condos family, Black Canyon Inn offers privately owned condos and a stunning log cabin — all located off of the beaten path but still within Estes Park. Max occupancy options range from two guests in the secluded Columbine Cabin all the way up to ten guests in other lodges. See all of them here and enjoy jaw-dropping photos and views before you arrive!
Some of the highlights along the way are the towns of Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Set at more than 9,300 feet and surrounded by mountains, Silverton has one main street with a few shops and restaurants. In summer, it can be ridiculously busy, but in winter, most of the establishments are closed, and the place can feel like a ghost town. On the edge of town, Silverton Mountain is an old school ski "resort" with great backcountry downhill skiing for advanced skiiers. Ouray, with a sign at the main lookout calling it the "Switzerland of America," is another mountain town, known for its hot springs. If you choose to do the Skyway, you can stop in at Telluride. Known for the Telluride Ski Resort, this is one of the most beautiful mountain towns in America, with a traditional main street and gorgeous mountain scenery. You can take a free gondola up the mountain for a better look over the area.
A classic Colorado city just up the road from Denver, Fort Collins is a great spot for a weekend trip in Colorado. The historic college town is artsy and vibrant with plenty to do. Whether it’s bringing the kids to the Museum of Discovery, hiking and kayaking at Horsetooth Open Space, perusing Old Town shops, or biking to Fort Collins’ many craft breweries, there’s something for everyone.
Considered the base camp for the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is less than a 2-hour drive from Denver. Located near the east entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a quiet area surrounded by protected land. Here you’ll find pristine wilderness with a myriad of both indoor and outdoor activities, from scenic hikes and bike trails to wine tasting and spa treatments. Take the Estes Park Aerial Tramway to the top of a small peak and soak in breathtaking panoramic views of the valley and downtown area, take a walk along the Riverwalk in Downtown Estes Park or take the kids to the Estes Park Ride-A-Kart & Cascade Creek Mini-Golf.
Dream Lake is one of the most-photographed lakes and is also noted for its winter snowshoeing. Emerald Lake is located directly below the saddle between Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, only a short hike beyond Dream Lake. The shore of Lake Haiyaha (a Native American word for "big rocks") is surrounded by boulders along with ancient, twisted and picturesque pine trees growing out of rock crevices. Nymph Lake is named for the yellow lily, Nymphaea polysepala, on its surface. Lake Helene is at the head of Odessa Gorge, east of Notchtop Mountain. Two Rivers Lake is found along the hike to Odessa Lake from Bear Lake, and has one backcountry campsite. The Cub Lake trail passes Big Thompson River, flowery meadows, and stands of pine and aspen trees. Ice and deep snow are present during the winter, requiring the use of skis or snowshoes.
Breckenridge is justifiably famous as one of the best ski resorts in the country, but spending a little time seeking out the off-piste charms of the town can be extremely rewarding. You can explore the thriving arts and culture scene or learn some Breckenridge history on a tour with a local expert – popular choices include the Historic Tour, the Haunted Tour and the Gold Mining Tour. In summer you can go hiking, biking, fishing, paddling and rafting, while in winter everyone heads to the slopes to enjoy world-class winter sport activities and ride the highest ski lift in the country. Things to Do in Breckenridge
Rocky Mountain National Park is home to herds of elk and bighorn sheep, but it also has a population of mountain lions and black bears. Although attacks are very rare, the National Park Service recommends visitors hike in groups since these animals are less likely to grow aggressive when faced with multiple people. Campers should also stow all food in food lockers if available or in airtight, bear-resistant containers. Ticks also pose a risk, and since these can be carriers for disease, it's important to do nightly tick checks after a day on the trails.
Imagine taking a trip on a train with your partner, very Old World romantic, isn’t it? The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad offers several options for guests who are looking for romantic getaways. The railroad runs between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. There are several trips available for you to choose including a full-day trip, a half-day trip, a sunset trip, and galloping goose #5. The sunset trip is probably the most romantic option of all. Depending on the route you choose, the fare starts from 95.75 USD.
If you want to get pampered while enjoying mountain air and views, you'll find five-star accommodations in luxury resorts near the state's famed ski areas. In the southwestern part of the state, Dunton Hot Springs 35 miles northeast of Dolores is a fully restored ghost town tucked along a wooded stream. You'll pay more than $1,000 per night to stay there, but the price includes meals, beverages, a spa treatment, guided hikes and unlimited use of the hot springs and mountain bikes. For nearby luxury, check out restored historic hotels such as Hotel Jerome in Aspen or the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Both date to Colorado's mining boom in the late 1800s and deliver a five-star luxury experience.
A sanctuary just for mature audiences all year long, Stonebrook Resort on Fall River offers plenty of peaceful settings, from secluded outdoor hot tubs overlooking the river to private hiking trails that lead to Rocky Mountain National Park, just 2 miles away. Downtown Estes Park, with snug restaurants, breweries and wineries well-suited for a couples’ night out, is just 2 miles the other way.
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.
Nestled just one mile from the south entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and two miles from downtown Estes Park, Rockmount Cottages is a 20 cabin resort covering 15 acres of wilderness. On the grounds, you’ll have access to a half mile of the Big Thompson River available for fishing and riverside picnics. To fit the lodge lifestyle, each cabin is constructed of knotty pine and most include cozy, stone fireplaces as well as furnished kitchens, a 40-inch flatscreen and DirecTV, wireless internet, and outdoor charcoal grills and picnic areas.
Telluride offers the quintessential Colorado mountain town experience. Not only are its streets lined with grand Victorian buildings, but it has become a hub for adventurers, athletes, and artists of all types, nestled in an isolated box canyon, far from the chaos of modern life. While there’s no skiing this time of year, visitors can still take a ride on the gondola up the mountain to get a bird’s eye view of the town and the breathtaking surrounding landscape. There’s also the opportunity to hike to the state’s longest free-falling waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls, enjoy fantastic fishing, golfing and biking. This little town is big when it comes to festivals too, with the annual Bluegrass Festival bringing a multitude of bluegrass bands to the area to enjoy the sun and the tunes in the outdoor amphitheater.
Vail is one of the world’s most popular ski resort towns, but in the warmer months of the year, it draws visitors who come to mountain bike, hike, golf and ride whitewater rapids. Throughout the season, there are an abundance of music and dance festivals, including the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival which features orchestras like the New York Philharmonic that performs at the outdoor Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, as well as the Vail International Dance Festival and the Vail Jazz Festival. Just a few of the other highlights include botanical tours through the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, rock climbing excursions in Vail Valley and the wealth of shops, bars and eateries in the village of Vail itself.
The Golden Triangle Museum District boasts eight of the city’s museums and the Denver Performing Arts Complex can provide ample entertainment. Outdoor activities include biking along the historic Greenway Trail, having fun at one of the several extreme sports parks, playing a round of golf, strolling through lovely parks and gardens, or visiting the Denver Zoo. Things to Do in Denver
You won’t believe the powdery slopes, 14,000-foot peaks, and stunning scenery of Telluride until you see the town for yourself. This Colorado destination screams weekend getaway—there are dozens of hikes and even more things to do. For example, you could give paragliding a chance, or bring the whole group along for a food tour featuring Telluride’s best bites.
Owners Wendye Sykes and Shelley Powers came to Estes Park from San Francisco looking for an escape from the grind of everyday city life — and that’s exactly what they’ve created at River Spruce. Offering nine different cabins, you’ll find lodgings suitable for couples and families all nestled amidst the scenic Rocky Mountain wilderness and along the Big Thompson River.