Summer is a peak traffic time for Rocky Mountain National Park but it's not the only place to go in the area! Check out some alternative hot spots near Estes Park for great views and fun as you wait for the lines to die down.
Head up Highway 7 for a beautifully scenic drive (including easy stops for stunning views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker) to Allenspark, a small mountain town about 30 minutes south of Estes Park. You’ll find plenty of hikes that aren’t inside the national park boundaries, including Meadow Mountain. The trailhead is accessed off of Ski Road, and the hike is a moderate one that allows on-leash dogs and features incredible views of Wild Basin at the top. After, stop for delicious pizza and a local craft beer at Rock Creek Tavern & Pizzeria, located at 6 Ski Road in Allenspark. Try to snag a seat on the elevated patio so you can catch that cool mountain breeze!
Take Devils Gulch Road to County Road 43 and into Glen Haven, a cozy little mountain town about 15 minutes from Estes Park. Stop at the General Store for one of their world-famous cinnamon rolls and a cup of coffee. Then take the short drive to one of the Crosier Mountain trailheads (yes, there are several!) and enjoy the gorgeous meadows of wildflowers on your way up the summit.
Dogs are permitted, on leash, on this trail! After, plan to have dinner at the newly reopened Inn of Glen Haven (which has been closed since the floods of September 2013). On your drive back to Estes Park, catch some of the best views of the Continental Divide from Devils Gulch Road, hopefully with a vibrant sunset included!
If you’re looking for some time on the water and away from the crowds, take the 30 minute drive down Highway 36 to Lyons, a charming little town at the base of the foothills. Grab a cup of joe from Stone Cup Coffee, then walk across the street to rent a tube. Toss it in the St. Vrain River and float down to the exit point. If possible, stage a car there; otherwise, it’s a nice walk back to the head of the river. If you need some lunch after, Pizza Bar 66 has bistro tables on their front patio and an excellent local craft beer list (along with tasty slices and pies).
By mid- to late afternoon, chances are good the crowds will have died down so you can park inside Rocky Mountain National Park and will have time to explore it! Or, you could always get up extra early to see Rocky Mountain National Park first before exploring these other nearby areas when you stay at one of our conveniently located cabins!