Things to Do with Kids in Estes Park, CO
Have the kids been looking forward to summer vacation? Are mom and dad ready to relax and enjoy a few days of family time away from the hectic routine of daily life? Whether you want a pre-planned vacation full of Estes Park activities or a more laid back “let’s see what each day brings” type of vacation our town and Rocky Mountain National Park can fit the bill. At Alpine Trail Ridge Inn, we’re happy to help with activity suggestions before you arrive or after you check-in.
After a long day of travel check-in at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn, enjoy a dip in our outdoor pool and dinner at Sundeck Restaurant, located at the east end of the property. The Sundeck offers a variety of menu options including fresh Colorado Trout, Prime Rib and a kids menu.
After a good night’s rest get the lay of the land with a trip into Rocky Mountain National Park. The roads in RMNP are simple to follow. You can download a map from the Rocky Mountain Nature Association website rmna.org. A drive to the top of Trail Ridge Road will give your family an opportunity to see spectacular views as well as watch for wildlife.
Stop at the Beaver Meadows visitor’s center, just 1/2 mile from Alpine Trail Ridge Inn, to join the Junior Ranger Program or visit the National Park Service website at nps.gov, click Colorado, Click Rocky Mountain National Park, type Junior Ranger in the search bar.
Rocky Mountain Nature Association offers ranger led seminars in RMNP (see seminar list at rmna.org). Learn to use a handheld GPS unit to explore the wonders of nature.
Exploring RMNP can make the kids as hungry as a bear so plan ahead by stopping at the Country Supermarket Deli for a picnic to go. Stop by the river or in one of the picnic areas to enjoy your meal. (All of the rooms at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn have a mini-fridge and microwave. Perfect for leftovers and snacks.) The kids will love throwing rocks in the river but don’t get too close to the edge. The rivers, even when shallow, are moving faster and with more force than you think.
With plenty of trails to hike, open space to run in and rocks to climb everyone should sleep well and be ready for another day of fun. If you are already hooked, click here to reserve your room at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn. For more to do and see, keep reading.
Family hikes can lead your clan on memorable adventures throughout the park. Short nature walks around Bear Lake and Sprague Lake are always a hit. There are several hikes as short as 1/2 mile to 1 mile or longer distances of 2 miles, 2.5 miles or more. The staff at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn will be happy to help you find the hikes that suit your family. Trail Tracks Hiking maps are on sale in the lobby to help guide you then to keep as a souvenir of your adventures.
As the end of the day leads you back to Alpine Trail Ridge Inn with our comfortable beds and hot & cold running water think about the settlers who paved the path for your mountain vacation. At the Estes Park Museum learn about those who gave their names to the town, the mountain peaks and the lakes.
The MacGregor Ranch museum just north of town is the living heritage of pioneer ranch life in the Estes Valley. The museum preserves the legacy of three generations of MacGregors while the ranch continues to raise cattle the old fashioned way. MacGregor Ranch beef is all-natural, antibiotic and hormone free.
If visiting a ranch makes the kids beg for a horseback ride, there is no shortage on horses. Every summer the managers at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn take the staff on a ride with either Cowpoke Corner Corral (970) 586-5890 or National Park Gateway Stables (970) 586-5269. Cowpoke gives a great mountain ride while Nat’l Park Gateway provides a relaxing meadow ride.
If the kids are 7 years and older and weigh at least 50 pounds, Rapid Transit Rafting will take your family on an adventure you won’t forget. Laugh and scream and get wet with a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado or Cache la Poudre Rivers. Half day or full day, Rapid Transit Rafting (800-367-8523) will pick you up in Estes Park and transport you to the launch site. Come early in the season to catch the best water!
Now that you have seen the views from Trail Ridge Road, taken a hike or two, visited a ranch and gotten wet on the river, try a ride on the Aerial Tramway. A short ride to the top of Prospect Mountain will offer views of RMNP and the Estes Valley. Yes, there are restrooms at the top!
After your descent from Prospect Mountain the kids can challenge mom and dad to a game of mini golf, beg for more rides on the bumper cars, race track and giant slide. A tasty treat of fudge, taffy or ice cream while shopping for souvenirs in downtown Estes Park rounds out a day of family fun.
At the end of your vacation take one last ride on the free hiker shuttle along the Bear Lake Road in RMNP. Don’t wait until you get home to reminisce about the fun your family had in Estes Park, take the time to reminisce while you are still here. Riding the shuttle provides a great opportunity for mom and dad to interact with the kids without the distractions of driving. After all, the best family vacation is the one that gives the family a chance to reconnect.