Rocky Mountain Resorts 16

The dog days of summer

Dog hiking in the mountains

The dog days of summer are upon us in Estes Park and we can’t think of a better place to spend a summer vacation with your pup than here! Bring Fido on a trip to Colorado and take advantage of the dog-friendly activities and establishments in the region.

Dogs in Rocky Mountain National Park

Dog riding in the car

Dogs are welcome in Rocky Mountain National Park as long as they are leashed and in areas that are accessible by vehicles such as pullouts and parking and picnic areas. Dogs aren’t allowed on trails to help protect the natural wildlife and flora of the park and to keep your pet safe. Service animals working with persons with disabilities are allowed on trails and in the park.

So, if you’re planning on driving through the park on Trail Ridge Road or having a picnic lunch in the park, you’re more than welcome to bring your furry friend to accompany you.

If you have any questions about where your dog is permitted in the park (or in surrounding areas), please don’t hesitate to ask! It’s very important that the wilderness in our backyard is protected as closely as possible.

Dog-friendly hiking trails

Hiking with dog

If you’re coming to Estes Park for the exceptional hiking, don’t worry as there are plenty of trails outside of Rocky Mountain National Park that are perfect for two-legged and four-legged hikers. Some of the trails on the east side of the park (closest to Estes Park) include:

  • Buchanan Pass Trail – A 9.1-mile trail off the Camp Dick Campground with stunning views of the pass and surrounding forest of trees.
  • Crosier Mountain – Right now the only trail open on Crosier Mountain is the Garden Gate Trail which spans 4.5 miles to the summit and is a moderate to difficult hike in the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests Pawnee National Grassland area.
  • Hermit Park – There are two trails within Hermit Park but the park does have a fee attached, about $6 per vehicle. The trails include the 1.1-mile Homestead Meadows Connector Trail and the 1.7-mile Kruger Rock Trail (great views of the Estes Valley at the top!).
  • Lake Estes Trail – Maybe not a full-on hiking trail, but this paved path is a great way to get your dog’s walking needs in and take in the beauty of Estes Park! It’s a 3.75-mile trail that follows the perimeter of Lake Estes and there’s a dog park nearby.
  • Lily Mountain – This four-mile hike boasts amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges but does require some bouldering near the summit so may not be the best option for smaller or older canines.
  • Lion Gulch/Homestead Meadows – About eight miles east of Estes Park off of Highway 36 is the trailhead for Lion Gulch/Homestead Meadows. It’s a 6.8-mile roundtrip hike that ends in the meadows where eight homesteads used to stand as early as 1889.

Most trails do require that dogs are leashed but some operate under voice control measures for well-trained pups. Be sure to check the policies for the trail you choose!

Dog-friendly dining – Enjoy the outdoor patios!

  • Molly B’s is dog-friendly though we recommend keeping their delicious pies to yourself!
  • Stop by Notchtop Bakery & Café from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch with your four-legged companion.
  • Or for an upscale menu featuring American and European dishes, take your dog to The Wild Rose for lunch or dinner!

Dog-friendly parks

Dog in the grass

Estes Valley Dog Park, near the Lake Estes Trail, is the perfect spot for some off-leash fun for your pooch.  

Start planning your last summer getaway with your best friend by finding the perfect dog-friendly cabin and then pack up Fido’s favorite toys for an Estes Park adventure you’ll both be doggone happy about!

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