COLORADO SERIES – ESTES PARK

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. This is the second post in our Colorado Series, if you recall I did a previous post on our trip to Keystone in February of 2017. We took a trip in October of 2019 to Estes Park and for me this has been my favorite place I have ever been in Colorado. This area is gorgeous! The Rocky Mountain National park provides so many activities. We also loved the quaint town and the Stanley Hotel.

FALLS’ FAMILY FAVORITES

HIKE TO ALBERTA FALLS

This was our family’s first time attempting to hike and now we love it! If you are interested in trying out hiking I could not recommend a better place. We did several hikes and they were all kid friendly but the best part was the scenery!! Pictures fail to capture the true majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park. This particular hike was made slightly more challenging because there was ice on parts of the trail. I wish we had known about the ice and snow grips you can wear over your hiking shoes. My favorite part about this hike is the reward when you reach top. The waterfall was frozen and it was incredible.

THE STANLEY HOTEL

Our family loved the Stanley Hotel. Our kids kept a vigilant lookout for ghosts while we were there. Our 6 year old is certain she saw a ghost at the bar top while we were having lunch in their dining room. If you want to have lunch or dinner at the Stanley I would highly recommend reservations. The food was good but in all honesty we were just their to see the hotel. After lunch the kids ran through the maze and played hide & go seek on the grounds while my husband and I enjoyed a cocktail on the front porch. The sun was out and the weather was perfect.

ELK

Before our trip to Colorado my brother had sent us a video he’d found online of an elk walking through town. Its one of the cool quirks of Estes Park though we didn’t think we’d be lucky enough to see them first hand. On the first day there our son tried to spot an elk but was disappointed. The next day, while driving into Rocky Mountain National Park, saw a small group of elk lying in a field. Then as we were driving back to our Condo after a hike we saw this big guy walking down the street. He was taller then our rental car and the kids went nuts! After that we kept seeing them everywhere. We also saw a ton of Mule deer and the kids could not get over how fast they could run.

WHERE TO EAT

We had three great dining experiences besides the Stanley Hotel. The Wapiti Pub, Bird & Jim and Claire’s. The Wapiti Pub was my husbands favorite. After a hike in the snow this place was perfect. The atmosphere was as warm and cozy as the food! We recommend the Colorado Mountain Chili which is made with Elk, Bison and beef. We had dinner one night at Bird and Jim which was my favorite place by far. Great atmosphere and even better food. At Bird and Jim’s we would recommend the Carnivore Platter which is all locally sourced meat including elk, bison and wild boar. The kids had the bread pudding for dessert and devoured it. On our last day in Estes Park we had breakfast at Claire’s and it was delicious and fulfilling. My husband got the breakfast burrito but we all ended up eating it. It was the best thing we ordered and it was large enough for all of us. If I could recommend only one thing about dining in Estes it would be to make RESERVATIONS!

WHERE WE STAYED

Our family stayed at The Wildwood Inn and would definitely recommend it. We had a condo that looked out onto Fall River. Our children loved playing in the outside area around the river and we appreciated the view. The condo was dated but clean and a good price. The condo was located close to the Fall River Entrance for the Rocky Mountain National Park. We never had to wait in long lines to enter the park from this entrance though we saw how bad the lines were at other entrances. Below are some pictures of the River from our Condo Balcony.

MORE RECOMMENDATIONS

We loved Estes Park so much that I want to share a few other things to do while visiting. We did several other hikes but our second favorite besides the Alberta Falls hike was the hike to Emerald Lake which is pictured below. The lakes are so gorgeous and clear in RMNP and this one did not disappoint even though it was frozen. We stopped at Bear Lake before starting the hike which I would recommend. The lake is so clear and there is a nice nature trail going all the way around the lake. One thing we were not able to do was take the Aerial Tramway to the summit of Prospect Mountain. I had a friend who recommended this to us and said once at the top you can feed the chipmunks peanuts which are for sale at the gift shop. While in Rocky Mountain National Park we had several picnics which was so nice and kept the price of the trip down. You can even bring in your own firewood and roast marshmallows.

Emerald Lake in RMNP

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DON’T LEAVE HOME WITH OUT IT!

Here are a few things I would say are a must for a trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park especially with young kids.

  1. Hiking Shoes. We almost did not get hiking shoes for this trip. We thought we would just use our tennis shoes but man are my feet happy we just spent the extra money. I got these Columbia pair which are so comfortable.
  2. Layers. The weather in October was mixed. The day before we arrived the area had a drastic drop in temperatures and snow but it warmed up over the few days we were in town. In the mornings when we left the condo it was freezing but as we hiked we warmed up quick. I highly recommend bringing layers to peel off as the day warms up.
  3. Bars and Snacks for hiking. This was important more for our kids than for us. Once we reached the top point for all of our hikes they instantly requested a snack. Then as soon as we got back down to the bottom they of course needed another snack.
  4. Water Water Water. The elevation in Estes Park was not as much of an issue as when we went to Keystone but we still drank a ton of water with all of our hiking.
  5. Reservations. I did not make dinner reservations for us before we left town and I regretted it. The first night we could not even find a place to eat so I immediately got online and made diner reservations for the next two nights.

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. Click HERE to read my full disclosure policy.

I hope these ideas and tips will help you and your family on your next hiking trip!

Jordan

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