Estes Park is an incredible and scenic destination. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite free things to do, which make for great ways to spend time with family after a busy day exploring the area or after a delicious meal in downtown Estes Park. Experience all the area has to offer and stay at our conveniently located Estes Park vacation rentals, only a 5-minute walk from the downtown area!
Stop by the Estes Park Visitor Center
Just arrived in town or looking for more information? Then the Estes Park Visitor Center should be one of the first places you stop. You can find maps, up to date information, weather forecasts, and more from the local guides. The visitor center is centrally located on the river, right beside the riverwalk, and includes plenty of parking for cars and RVs.
Take a Stroll on the Estes Riverwalk
Located behind the many shops and restaurants along Elkhorn Avenue, the Riverwalk is a great place to unwind after exploring downtown, Estes Park. The walk begins at the George Hix riverside plaza and provides convenient access to the downtown area. You can take the riverwalk all the way to the visitor center, and if you keep going, it eventually leads to the scenic Lake Estes.
Visit Lake Estes
The Estes Riverwalk continues on from the Visitor Center and loops around Lake Estes, making for a great place to walk the dog, take an evening stroll, or ride your bike. First created in 1949 by the Olympus Dam on the Big Thompson River, Lake Estes is the primary source of drinking water for the town. This is an excellent place to watch wildlife, fish, and spend time relaxing with the family.
Play at the Dog Park
If you are staying in one of our pet friendly vacation rentals, then the Estes Park dog park should be high on your list. The park is situated on Lake Estes and provides a safely fenced-in area for your dog to run around and play. Outside the fence, there is also a small beach where you can walk your leashed dog and let them play in the water. This is a great place to visit in the evening before heading back to your rental.
See the Birch Ruins
Sometimes referred to as a local secret, this attraction is located within walking distance of downtown. The remains of a stone cabin on a hillside offer spectacular views of the area including the Stanley Hotel and the Rocky Mountains. The entrance to the area is located behind the police station and is a quick and easy walk. This makes for a great add-on if you’re already exploring downtown, Estes Park.
Attend the Events and Festivals
Estes Park has many free events and festivals held throughout the year, with summer seeing something happening nearly every weekend. The majority of these events are either held in the downtown area or at the visitor center. While some of the events do require a ticket for paid entry, most allow you to walk around and enjoy the sights. For a full list of events, you can review the full calendar here.
Drive the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Everyone has heard of the famous Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, but have you heard of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway? The Peak to Peak is Colorado’s oldest scenic byway and was opened over 100 years ago in 1918. The road takes you south from Estes Park to I-70 and is one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado. While driving the entire way to I-70 will take about 3 hours, we recommend spending an hour or two enjoying the drive, especially in the fall when the leaves are stunning.