Q: When is the best time to visit?
A: A better question to ask is this: “When isn’t there a best time to visit Estes Park?” You couldn’t pick a bad month to visit if you tried. Summer months are the most popular because the weather is mild and dry but once fall arrives, people flock to the region to watch trees turn magnificent colors. Some show up in fall because elk steal the show during mating season. Winter is a wonderland; the majesty of the mountains covered with snow is not just a photographer’s dream but the place winter athletes show off their prowess and know a great hot toddy when they taste it.
Q: What’s the weather like in Estes Park?
A: Summer high temperatures average 70-degrees F by day and around 40-degrees F at night. Happily, all of the snow in the mountains may look impressive in winter, but in the valley, winter temperatures tend to be relatively mild during the day (averaging 40-degrees) with nighttime dips that call for warm fires when thermostats read 20-degrees. When Mother Nature puts on spectacular shows in spring and fall, it’s unlikely you will experience weather extremes that pervade the rest of the nation.
Q: We hate crowds! Can we avoid them?
A: When visitors ask questions about Estes Park, this one usually makes the top ten list because vacations are precious and who wants to stand in lines when time is finite? Off-peak periods are great times to come in general if crowds aren’t your thing and if you come during the week rather than on weekends. It’s wise to avoid holidays like the 4th of July and Labor Day. Think kids! Parents tend to book vacations when school’s out. Additionally, try arrive at the park early (before 10 a.m.) — while visitors are still grabbing second cups of coffee.
Q: We’re over 65; are we eligible for senior discounts?
A: You bet. Pick up an affordable National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass as soon as you arrive. If you’re planning to be around long enough to enjoy spending your kids’ inheritance, you can request the lifetime pass for $80 rather than paying the annual $20 fee. Keep your age working to your advantage by asking for senior discounts everywhere you go and take advantage of the free shuttle so you don’t have to drive to and from the park.
Q: We don’t go anywhere without Droolius Caesar. Can we bring the dog?
A: While pooches – even the most well-behaved ones – are not allowed on hiking trails, there’s no reason why you can’t bring your dog with you to Estes Park, as long as he or she is leash trained and the leash you bring along is a 6-footer (or shorter). Everywhere you go, you’ll find that Estes Park is a dog-loving paradise. We can’t make the same statement about cats, but if yours is leash trained, perhaps you could start a trend.
Q: Exactly where is Estes Park?
A: It’s 90 miles northwest of Denver and its altitude is around 7,522 feet above sea level. Estes Park sits at the foot of the eastern base of Rocky Mountain National Park and you’re going to feel inspired and humbled by the way you feel every time you look up at the mountain range that dominates the valley.
Q: Should I be concerned about smoke from West Coast wildfires?
A: Should either prescribed burns that help manage the area’s ecological balance or wildfire activity erupt, you may experience some discomfort depending upon Estes Park’s proximity to the fire. If you suffer heart or lung diseases; asthma or respiratory issues, keep tabs on the current state of air quality before you decide to visit the area at https://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colo_smoke.aspx.
Q: Where can we get information about activities, attractions, and events?
A: Bookmark both of these web pages so you’re always in the loop and can pre-arrange your activities even before you arrive at the park: https://www.visitestespark.com/things-to-do/ and https://www.visitestespark.com/events-calendar/. There are a dizzying number of things to do year-round, so don’t worry that one season is better than another when you set about making your plans. They’re all spectacular.
Q: Can we spend our entire vacation in Rocky Mountain National Park?
A: While Estes Park is one of the coolest and most exciting places on the planet, plenty of people come to Colorado with the intentions of spending all of their time in the company of Mother Nature. If that describes you, plan to fork over $20 per carload to be admitted to the park for up to 7 days.
Q: Suppose we want to camp rather than stay in traditional accommodations?
A: If you intend to vacation off the grid, be advised that people book campsites 5 months in advance, so if you don’t want to pitch your tent so close to another one you can hear folks snoring, apply for your permit early and plan to review the park’s rules and guidelines before you come: https://www.visitestespark.com/rocky-mountain-national-park/camping/.