4 One-hour Day Trips from Estes Park

07/01/2020 | by Lyles Armour | Local Area

While there is plenty to do in Estes Park, there is so much more to explore outside of our little mountain town, all within an hour’s drive. Begin your adventures with these one-hour day trips from Estes Park and see what else Colorado has to offer.

Nederland, CO

While we think the town of Estes Park is the perfect mountain town, Nederland, CO gives us a run for our money. The quaint town of fewer than 2,000 residents offers in-town dining options, breweries, coffee shops, and plenty of shops to keep you busy all day long. Nederland is also a great jumping point for exploring the trails in the area.

Directions: Take 7 West from in town, which will turn into CO-72 – taking you directly through the center of Nederland. The 41-mile drive will take roughly an hour.

Moffat Tunnel in Rollinsville

image of moffat tunnel in Colorado
Moffat Tunnel as it passes under the Continental Divide of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Get outdoors and away from the crowds at Rocky Mountain National Park, plus enjoy a brief history lesson with a hike at Moffat Tunnel in Rollinsville. While the town of Rollinsville doesn’t have much to offer in terms of amenities, it is home to one of the more unique hikes in Colorado. Moffat Tunnel is a railroad and water tunnel built in the early 1900s. The railroad, which cuts through the Continental Divide, connects Denver to Cheyenne, WY in the north, and Pueblo, CO in the south. The tunnel is still in operation today, running 15 trains a day.

The trailhead provides access to South Boulder Creek Trail, Forest Lakes Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Crater Lakes Trail, and several others. There is a big parking lot at the entrance to the trailhead.

Directions: Take 7 West from in town, which will turn into CO-72. Once in Nederland connect to CO-119 South until you hit Rollinsville. Turn left on East Portal Road to the trailhead. The 55-mile drive will take about an hour and a half.

Brainard Lake

image of Brainard Lake
Brainard Lake outside Nederland, Colorado

As one of the most popular destinations for those living along the Front Range, the Brainard Lake Recreation Area offers ample opportunity for hiking, biking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. There are several trails in the area that take you to other alpine lakes in the area – if you’re willing to hike them! For further information about entrance and permits, visit here.

Directions: Take 7 West from in town, which will turn into CO-72 – taking you to the town of Ward. In Ward, turn left on to CO-112 (Brainard Lake Road), which will lead directly to the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. This 35-mile drive will take just under an hour from Estes Park.

Eldora

For those wintertime adventures on the mountain, head to Eldora Ski Resort. This tiny ski resort packs the punch with epic powder without the lift lines. They offer ski and snowboard lessons, gear rentals, plus Nordic skiing, and snowshoe excursions. Since you are making a day of it, be sure to grab a bite at one of their three dining spots or grab a beer at the Indian Peaks Bar.

Directions: Take 7 West from in town, which will turn into CO-72 – taking you directly through the center of Nederland. In town, turn on to CO-119 W (Eldorado Ave) and follow signs for CO-140 (Shelf Road) directly to Eldora.

Stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts

cabin at rocky mountain resorts

Luckily you don’t have to go far to explore all that Estes Park and the surrounding area have to offer when you stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts. Our mountain-style cabins and vacation rentals make a great home base for your one-hour day trips from Estes Park and any other adventures you may have planned. And remember when you book direct with us, you receive the best rate with fewer taxes and feeds. So, start planning your mountain retreat and book your stay with us today!

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