Denver Day Trips
Estes Park is a gorgeous mountain town that is easily accessible if you are driving from Denver. The town has so much to offer with the adorable main street, the haunted Stanley hotel, all the Elk roaming around town, Rocky Mountain National Park, and so much more. It has become my favorite location to visit for the fall leaves but is great to visit all season long.
Our day trip a couple weeks ago was a perfect way to spend a Sunday. We woke up early to make sure we had most of the day to wander around. Once you drive through Boulder, away from all urban development, it is one of the most scenic drives in Colorado. First, you drive through the cutest and tiniest town of Lyons where they have a snack stand and local produce/pumpkin stand during harvest season. A great pit stop for locally made road trip snacks. The main street is full of coffee shops and cute restaurants that would make a perfect stop for another weekend day trip. Once you get through Lyons you are just surrounded by mountains and follow the road along the Big Thompson river all the way up to Estes.
The Stanley Hotel
As soon as you arrive in Estes Park you can see the spooky Stanley Hotel in the distance. The Hotel is famous for being haunted and for inspiring Stephen King’s book and movie, The Shining. After being stuck in the car we needed some coffee. We luckily found a parking spot right away as the area can become quite crowded on the weekend. We stopped at Inkwell & Brew, a delicious coffee shop where I had one of the best pumpkin lattes. This was a cozy shop with a fireplace and a lot of unique gifts. You could spend a whole day shopping at all the mom and pop shops on the main street of Estes Park. There are also many amazing restaurants that are on my list to try on my next trip up to Estes Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountain National Park is known as one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, it is always a good time to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park, except when the roads are closed during a blizzard. But I especially like to visit in the fall. With all the towering mountains, golden aspens, and a little snow forming on the peak, it is truly serene. During the spring the river is gushing with fresh snowmelt, the birds are singing, and the wildflower fields are blooming. There is an endless amount of hiking trails in the park with a few fourteeners to climb. Each hike offers something different. My favorite hike that is easy to do in a couple hours is the Bear Lake and Lake Bierstadt hikes.
If you ever visit Denver this is one of my favorite mountain towns to visit and should be on your itinerary. All you need is a day to conquer this trip. Another great way to see the other side of Rocky Mountain National Park is through Grand Lake. I will let you know all about this little mountain town on another post soon! In the meantime grab your warm autumn hiking gear and get up to Estes Park before it gets too snowy!