Recently our family took an epic 10-day national park road trip and hit three of the country’s most beautiful national parks in the process! It is a road trip that none of us will soon forget! We had such an amazing time and broke up the driving time to make it enjoyable for us and our kids (ages 10, 8, and 4). Because our son had just finished fourth grade, we were able to get into all of the National Parks for free! Below you will find a summary of the highlights of our time in Estes Park and visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Plus, fun things to do in Estes Park with kids.
Click here for the full >>> National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
Things To Do In Estes Park
Day 1: Estes Park, Colorado
We started our road trip in Wichita, Kansas and it took us just under 9 hours to get to Estes Park. If you are driving on 1-70, make sure to stop at “The Oasis on the Plains” in Colby, Kansas. It has a Starbucks, Quiznos, Qdoba, a playground, and a fenced area for dogs! This is a great way to stretch your legs and break up the trip a bit.
Places To Stay In Estes Park
We were a little late in planning our vacation for the season, so most of the cabins and condos I originally wanted were already sold out. I have heard wonderful things about the lodging options available at YMCA of the Rockies but it too was sold out.
We ended up staying at Hotel Estes on the outskirts of Estes Park and it exceeded my expectations – the rooms were spacious, updated, and clean. The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool (which we didn’t use), hot tubs, and some playground equipment. Our favorite part was nightly complimentary s’mores around the campfire! If you are interested in staying “in town” near the shopping area, I would recommend the Silver Moon Inn (same owners as Hotel Estes, just more downtown location).
Restaurants In Estes Park
Because of time constraints, we stuck to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park but we have heard the western side of the park is just as beautiful and much less busy! If you are looking for a nice sit-down restaurant in Estes Park, be sure to check out Mama Rose’s Italian Restaurant. It was wonderful!
Day 2: Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park Restaurants
There isn’t much to eat in the park itself, so I would highly recommend packing a lunch and enjoying a scenic meal at one of the many picnic tables you’ll find at Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is also very close.
Top Things To Do In Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is ruggedly beautiful! Bear Lake was one of our favorite things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park because it was almost a flat 1-mile walk around the lake. This made it ideal for our 4-year old and there was still plenty of places our kids could hike on the rocks. The parking lot at Bear Lake is limited, so make sure to get there early (before 9) or you will have to park in a lower lot and take a shuttle.
Go here to print off a map of the park to make a plan before you go.
Another favorite stop for our family was the Alluvial Fan, our kids loved climbing all over the rocks and dipping their toes in the water!
Day 3: Rocky Mountain National Park in the morning
Things To Do In Estes Park: Horseback Riding
We enjoyed a bit more time in Estes Park and then got back on the road! We went horseback riding near Estes Park, but next time I would much rather do a trail ride in Rocky Mountain National Park itself. Because we only did a one-hour trail ride, we rode through trees our entire time and did not ever get to see any pretty views.
Click here to follow our epic national parks road trip…
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