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Hi, I'm Georgina! A coffee-loving adventure enthusiast here to share my favorite travel tips with you! My goal is to inspire others to get out and explore this wild planet by camping, hiking, or wandering around a fun new city!

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  • Georgina D'Angelo

One Weekend in Estes Park, CO: A 3-Day Estes Park Itinerary

Updated: Jul 10

One Weekend in Estes Park Colorado Itinerary

Estes Park, Colorado is surrounded by endless mountain views and makes for the perfect base for visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. With one weekend in Estes Park, Colorado you can enjoy the miles of local hiking trails, wildlife sightings, and charming downtown restaurants and coffee shops. 

Are you ready to spend 3 days in Estes Park? There are so many things to do and sights to see in this Colorado town. If you want to make a road trip out of your visit, plan a stop in Winter Park and Fraser, Colorado.

Table of Contents:

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man in front of mountains and pine trees in colorado

How do I get to Estes Park? 

Estes Park is located 73 miles, about an hour and a half drive, from Denver International Airport making it a great option for a weekend trip. From Denver, rent a car to drive to Estes Park. Having a rental car will allow you to maximize your time in Estes Park and provide an easy way to visit the neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park.

What is the best time to visit Estes Park? 

The best time to visit Estes Park is early summer or early fall. There are road closures in Rocky Mountain National Park up until the end of May and as early as October. If you visit in early summer, you’ll likely experience warm, sunny weather but avoid the huge mid-summer crowds. Early fall should also be fairly quiet, but it will be cooler (perfect outdoor adventure weather).

Woman and Dog Hiking in Estes Park Colorado

Where should I stay in Estes Park?

There are many great places to stay in Estes Park, including riverside cabins, boutique hotels, and established campgrounds. Depending on your travel style, here are the best places to stay in Estes Park.


One of the best ways to upgrade your trip to Estes Park is to stay in a cozy cabin. You can find riverside cabins here, cabins on the shore of Lake Estes, and best of all, cabins with beautiful mountain views. Boulder Brook on Fall River offers king and queen suites, and Fall River Casita is a one-bedroom apartment.

Estes Park Hotels

There are many great hotels in Estes Park as well. From chains to boutique hotels, you can find hotels with breakfast included and lakefront lodges. One of the most popular hotels in Estes Park is Blue Door Inn.

Camping in Estes Park

Camping Estes Park - Toyota FJ with rooftop tent

If you want to go full on adventure mode in Estes Park, you can find some great campgrounds that offer water and electricity, bathrooms, and hot showers. The best place to camp here is Estes Park Campgrounds at East Portal. This is where we stayed and we really enjoyed it.

Sample Weekend in Estes Park, Colorado: 3-Day Itinerary

If you have 3 days in Estes Park, here is a sample itinerary. From hiking and admiring all the mountain views, to dining at the best restaurants and strolling through downtown, this is a great way to spend a weekend in Estes Park.

Day 1 in Estes Park:


Start your day with breakfast at Notchtop Bakery & Cafe. This Estes Park favorite offers a full breakfast menu with tons of veggie options, as well as fresh baked pastries like to-die-for cinnamon rolls. After you fuel up, head to Lake Estes to hike the 4 mile trail and admire all the mountain views.

Note: Notchtop has a dog-friendly patio and the Lake Estes trail is also dog-friendly.


Once you’ve completed the Lake Estes trail, head back into town for lunch at Penelope’s for killer burgers. Stroll down Elkhorn Avenue to window shop and find quirky souvenirs. There are tons of outdoor gear shops here as well. 

If you’re looking for more adventure, join a guided e-bike tour of Estes Park and learn more about the town and national park from a local guide. The groups are limited to 8 people providing a nice small-group feel.

Shops in Downtown Estes Park Colorado


After hiking and biking all day in Estes Park, slow down with a nice dinner at The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern. You can often catch live music here too, or opt to sit outside on the dog-friendly patio.

Day 2 in Estes Park:


Start your second day in Estes Park with a visit to The Egg of Estes for breakfast. Fuel up for a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s best to start as early as you can, and luckily The Egg opens at 6 am. Pack your day bag with snacks, plenty of water, sun protection, and a to-go lunch.

Pro Tip: Make sure you are prepared for every hike so you can stay safe and have the most fun.

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado


Head to Rocky Mountain National Park for a full day of hiking and scenic driving. It’s only a 20 minute drive from Estes Park (depending on traffic), and you can enjoy some of Rocky Mountain’s best hikes. Check out Lake Haiyaha (4 mile trail) and Emerald Lake (3.2 mile trail) for stunning alpine lake views.

Note: If you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, make sure you book your timed entry (necessary if you plan to visit before 6 pm) and your entrance pass.


After a full day of hiking, return to Estes Park for a nice dinner at Himalayan Curry & Kebob. They also have a dog-friendly patio.

Day 3 in Estes Park:


Enjoy a slow morning on day 3 in Estes Park with breakfast at Claire’s. They serve a great breakfast on Saturday and Sunday only. You can stick around downtown for more shopping or head down Elkhorn Avenue to Tregent Park and see the old water wheel on the river.

If you’re up for more hiking, head over to the nearby Hermit Park Open Space and hike the Kruger Rock Trail (3.6 miles and dog-friendly). Make sure you grab a $10 day pass at the entrance.


Get ready to brave the heights, next up is the Estes Park Aerial Tramway. This takes you all the way up to the summit of Prospect Mountain. Admire the view, stop for photos, and visit the Hungry Chipmunk Cafe and gift shop.


End the last day of your weekend in Estes Park, Colorado with dinner at The Barrel for their beers and food trucks. They even have classic games to play like giant Connect 4 and billiards. 

If you have time, stop for an ice cream at one of the many local candy stores. Danish Cone Factory has amazing homemade waffle cones, and the Sundae Saloon has square scoops!

Other Things to Do in Estes Park 

  • Open Air Adventure Park: This outdoor park features an aerial obstacle course with more than 30 challenges. Tickets start at $25.

  • Roosevelt National Forest: Offers tons of hiking trails, one of the best being Allenspark to Fox Creek Grotto trail.

  • Kayaking: Go for a sunrise or sunset kayak tour in Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • Day Trip to Boulder: Another great day trip destination is Boulder, Colorado.

  • Stanley Hotel: Check out the Shining Tour at the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel.

Hiking in Roosevelt National Forest view of snowy mountain
Hiking in Roosevelt National Forest

Where to Eat in Estes Park

There are plenty of great restaurants in Estes Park, and you can find options to fit most dietary restrictions. While many places are downtown on Elkhorn Avenue, some of the best restaurants in Estes Park are off the main road.

  • Snowy Peaks Winery: Here you can enjoy handcrafted local wines as well as wines from some of Colorado’s best boutique wineries. They also offer small bites like cheese and meat platters. 

  • Elevations Eatery and Bar: If you want something a little more upscale, Elevations is your place. They offer a diverse menu along with unique cocktails. Try their elk burger for a local specialty.

  • Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co: This local brewery offers a variety of great beers along with mountain views and food trucks. There are two locations, one downtown and one on Route 7 in a converted old gas station.

  • Kind Coffee: This local coffee shop has delicious lattes as well as a decent food menu. But the best part is enjoying your meal on the river out back.

Other Tips to Know Before Visiting Estes Park

Pay attention to where you park. There are some free parking lots available, but most charge a fee. Once you find a good parking spot, I recommend keeping your car there and walking as much as you can. Most of downtown Estes Park is walkable.

Estes Park sits at 7,552 feet above sea level, so stay aware of altitude sickness symptoms. Always carry plenty of water, especially when hiking, as staying hydrated is one of the best ways to fight altitude sickness. If you notice you feel drowsy, light-headed, or you start to get a migraine, take a break and don’t push yourself too hard.

Traffic can get very congested. Estes Park is a very small town, but once summer hits, tourism picks up. Because of the influx of visitors, roads in Estes Park can easily get congested, especially along Elkhorn Avenue, the main road. 

Hiking trail through the forest in Estes Park Colorado

3-day Estes Park Weekend Trip Itinerary Recap:

  • Day 1: Notchtop, Lake Estes Trail, Penelope’s Burgers, Elkhorn Avenue, Rock Inn

  • Day 2: Day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Day 3: Claire’s, Hiking at Hermit Park, Estes Park Aerial Tramway, The Barrel beer garden

One Weekend In Estes Park Isn’t Enough

With so many things to do, it would be impossible to see it all in just one weekend in Estes Park, Colorado. You can change this itinerary to fit your weekend in Estes Park and include more of what you love. There is plenty of adventure to be had here, and endless hiking and scenic mountain driving

Now you know a great way to spend 3 days in Estes Park. What else might you add to this weekend in Estes Park itinerary? Make a road trip out of your visit and plan a stop in Fraser and Winter Park!

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Guide to a Weekend in Estes Park CO Pinterest Cover


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Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 


I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.


I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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