Estes Park, Colorado, is the ultimate vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts who love mountains, trees, and wildlife. The town of Estes Park is small, friendly, and welcoming, and it’s immediately adjacent to one of the most incredible national parks in our nation: Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).
This town has everything that you’ll need to prepare yourself to spend full and exciting days in the park, and you can return to town in the evening to wine, dine, and relax in any of its many wonderful accommodation options.
If you decide to take a day off from exploring the park, there’s also plenty to do in town to keep you busy, whether you’re traveling alone, with your partner, with friends, or with the whole family.
If you’re looking for the best places to stay in Estes Park you came to the right place. In this post, we’ll tell you about the best areas to stay in Estes Park and will list the best hotels for every type of traveler and budget in each area to help you choose the best place to stay for you.
You’re going to love Estes Park! This destination is a wonderland at any time of year. Read on and start planning your visit today.
What We Cover
- TL;DR: Best Places to Stay in Colorado
- Best Areas to Stay in Estes Park
- Where to Stay in Estes Park, Colorado
- 1. Downtown Estes Park: Best Area for First-Timers
- 2. Lake Estes: Best Area for Families
- 3. Near the RMNP Fall River Road Entrance: Best Area for Budget Travelers
- 4. Near the RMNP Beaver Meadows Entrance: Best Area for Visiting the Park
- Is Estes Park, Colorado, safe?
- When is the best time of the year to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?
- Will I need a rental car to enjoy Estes Park, Colorado?
- Is Estes Park, Colorado, dog friendly?
TL;DR: Best Places to Stay in Colorado
- Luxury Hotel in Estes Park – Murphy’s River Lodge
- Mid-Range Hotel in Estes Park – StoneBrook Resort
- Budget Hotel in Estes Park – Blue Door Inn
- Vacation Rental in Estes Park – Lucky Stars
Best Areas to Stay in Estes Park
- Area for First-Timers/Visitors – Downtown Estes Park
- Area for Budget Travelers – Fall River Road
- Area for Luxury Travelers – Lake Estes Area
- Area for Safety – Anywhere! Estes Park is very safe.
- Area for Families – Lake Estes Area or Downtown Estes Park
- Area to Stay for Visiting RMNP: Near the Beaver Meadows/Main Park Entrance
Where to Stay in Estes Park, Colorado
1. Downtown Estes Park: Best Area for First-Timers
Estes Park is a small town by anyone’s standards; its population is just 6,500. As a result, everything in this mountain village is quite close together no matter where you decide to stay. However, if you decide to stay in the downtown area, you’ll be within easy walking distance from all the shops, restaurants, and attractions that are in the center of town.
That’s a bonus at any time of year, but it’s especially beneficial during the busier months because you won’t have to worry about looking for parking when you want to explore this area.
Although most people visit Estes Park for easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park, there are plenty of things to do in town. The Estes Park Visitor’s Center is a great place to start and its enthusiastic staff will be able to answer all of your questions about anything in or near Estes Park.
The Estes Park Aerial Tramway will take you to the top of Prospect Mountain for a spectacular overview of the area from above. Also, you might take some time to visit the Stanley Home Museum and the historic and beautiful Stanley Hotel or the Estes Park Museum to learn more about the interesting history of this area.
Whatever you choose to do, you’ll love visiting the town of Estes Park. This is the best area to stay in Estes Park, Colorado if you want to be in the center of it all. There are plenty of things to do in this part of town but you’ll still be able to get into the national park with ease.
Here are our top choices of where to stay in downtown Estes Park:
- Budget Hotel in Downtown Estes Park – Estes Park Adventure Hostel – This is not a hotel, but a hostel. Because of this, you’ll save a lot of money – it’s the most affordable accommodation in Estes Park – but you’ll also be sharing your sleeping space with others. It’s located above the main classroom of the Colorado Mountain School, so you may also be inspired to take some outdoor adventure classes with the school’s patient and experienced teachers during your stay as well.
- Mid-Range Hotel in Downtown Estes Park – The Silver Moon Inn – This property is located on the banks of the beautiful Fall River and you’ll find seating, fire pits, and a gazebo on the property so you can relax with a good book or with your travel companions while you watch the river flow by. There’s free continental breakfast every morning and s’mores made every evening.
- Luxury Hotel in Downtown Estes Park – Murphy’s River Lodge – This hotel is just two blocks from the main part of downtown, so you’ll have easy access to all the shops, galleries, and restaurants.. All units have a microwave, small refrigerator, and coffeemaker and the hotel also has a heated, indoor swimming pool and a hot tub that’s open all year.
- Vacation Rental in Downtown Estes Park – Black Bear Cottage – This cute and cozy 1921 cottage is small, but it’s perfect for two. It’s located in the Historic Marshall Cottages subdivision and it has one bedroom and one bath, a full kitchen, a gas fireplace, and laundry. The deck has chairs and a gas grill, and the garden just beyond the front steps is a lovely place to relax.
See Related: Things to Do in Fort Collins
2. Lake Estes: Best Area for Families
Lake Estes is another excellent place to stay when you’re visiting Estes Park. This area is very close to downtown but it’s residential so it’s a bit quieter and is more laid back, which is perfect for vacationers who want to relax with their families and friends. It’s one of the best places to visit in Colorado for good reason.
You’ll find a number of hotels near the lake and quite a few vacation rentals to try. If you’re feeling active, take a walk around the lake – there’s a trail that goes all the way around it – or rent a kayak, paddleboard, canoe, boat, bike, or rod and reel from the Lake Estes Marina.
This lake is beautiful at any time of year and staying on its shores or nearby will assure you a fantastic visit and vacation. You’ll be close to everything you wish to see and do, and you’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the mountains and everything else that Estes Park has to offer.
Staying on the lake is wise for anyone experiencing Estes Park for the first time or for anyone who is returning once again. If you’d like to stay near Lake Estes, these are our top choices for hotels:
- Budget Hotel Near Lake Estes – Blue Door Inn – The owners of this hotel really care about their property and their guests, and it shows. The beds are comfortable, the WiFi is speedy, and the heated pool is warm and welcoming. In the busy months, you can even enjoy a campfire and live music on certain nights.
- Mid-Range Hotel Near Lake Estes – Hotel Estes – This hotel offers complimentary WiFi and a free daily continental breakfast as well as free parking. There’s a seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub and a playground outside for the kids. You’ll also find outdoor seating and a BBQ area if you want to grill yourself up some dinner after a long day on the trails.
- Luxury Hotel Near Lake Estes – Estes Park Resort – Guests can choose between spacious hotel rooms or two-story, two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath log cabins with fireplaces, both of which offer incredible views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. There are fire pits and seating along the lakefront and easy access to the trail that goes all the way around the lake. Estes Park Resort is located right next to the Lake Estes Marina where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and more.
- Vacation Rental Near Lake Estes – Stanley Heights Home – This 4,800-square-foot home has three bedrooms and three full baths. It sleeps up to eight guests and there’s plenty of room to relax and hang out thanks to its open floor plan. A huge wraparound deck offers views of the Rocky Mountains, while deer and elk may pay you a visit during your stay.
See Related: Things to Do in Breckenridge, Colorado
3. Near the RMNP Fall River Road Entrance: Best Area for Budget Travelers
Fall River Road leads to and through Rocky Mountain National Park and it’s an excellent place to stay if you want easy access to the park. The road is parallel to Fall River, as you might imagine, which is lovely; you’re sure to see wildlife just out your front door if you choose to stay in this area.
The river views here are excellent. Many of these accommodations allow fishing on their property, but even if you’re not an angler, you’ll enjoy relaxing in lounge chairs on the banks. Accommodations on Fall River Road are quiet, wooded, and serene, and staying in this area is a great choice for people who love being surrounded by nature.
When you enter the park through the Fall River Road entrance, you’ll avoid some of the crowds entering through the most direct route from Estes at the Beaver Meadows Entrance, so you’ll be able to hit the hiking trails before anyone else.
Further, if you want to drive Trail Ridge Road or Old Fall River Road during your visit to the park, you’ll have easy access to both from this park entrance. Here are our choices for the best hotels nearby:
- Budget Hotel Near the RMNP Fall River Road Entrance – Nicky’s Resort– This hotel is situated right on the Fall River; it’s just one mile from downtown and two miles from Rocky Mountain National Park’s Fall River Entrance. Due to its location on the outskirts of town, you can expect to see wildlife on the property during your stay including elk and wild turkeys. You can also fish in the river from the property – assuming you have a Colorado fishing license, of course.
- Mid-Range Hotel Near the RMNP Fall River Road Entrance – StoneBrook Resort – This adults-only property is a lovely option for couples on a romantic getaway or anyone who seeks a child-free stay. It’s made up of cabins, cottages, and suites; many of the options have kitchenettes, fireplaces, indoor spa tubs, and personal outdoor hot tubs. There are hiking trails right outside your door, and many guests fish from the river and grill their catch on the hotel’s BBQ facilities.
- Luxury Hotel Near the RMNP Fall River Road Entrance – Timber Creek Chalets – The cabins and chalets at this property are surrounded by forest and are only two miles from the Fall River Entrance to the park. There’s an outdoor, heated swimming pool onsite, as well as a recreation and reading room with a pool table. Some units are dog-friendly, as well.
- Vacation Rental Near the RMNP Fall River Road Entrance – Blue Columbine – This two-bedroom, two-bathroom, dog-friendly cabin sleeps eight and is only two miles from the Fall River Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. The cabin itself has a wood-burning fireplace, and you can borrow movies from the front desk and you can enjoy great views of the Rocky Mountains from the deck while you grill your dinner.
See Related: Things to Do in Vail, Colorado
4. Near the RMNP Beaver Meadows Entrance: Best Area for Visiting the Park
The Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is considered to be the main entrance of the park, and the large and interesting Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is located near this entrance as well.
Visitors who want to have the most direct access to the park will enjoy staying on this side of town, but they’ll still be close to downtown and everything else. Further, this park entrance is open all year, so if you’re visiting during the off-season, staying on this side of Estes Park is wise.
Once you enter the park from the Beaver Meadows Entrance, you’ll have quick access to the attractions on the southeast side of the park including Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, Bear Lake, and the many trailheads in this area.
If staying near the Beaver Meadows Entrance sounds great, here are our selections of the best accommodations:
- Budget Hotel Near the RMNP Beaver Meadows Entrance – Alpine Trail Ridge Inn – This property is only minutes from the main entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and also just a short drive to downtown. There’s an outdoor swimming pool that’s open in the summer, and most rooms have their own parking space and private entrances. The Alpine Trail Ridge Inn is a great place to stay if you wish to be close to the park, so you can quickly and easily begin your adventures each day.
- Mid-Range Hotel Near the RMNP Beaver Meadows Entrance – Lazy R Cottages – This collection of one, two, and three-bedroom cabins is just one mile from the Beaver Meadows Entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and as a result, you can enjoy views of the park’s mountains right from your front deck. Dog-friendly units are available for a small additional fee, and the cottages include kitchens or kitchenettes, fireplaces, seating areas, and more. Some even have private hot tubs.
- Luxury Hotel Near the RMNP Beaver Meadows Entrance – The Romantic RiverSong Inn – This is an exceptional property that was built in 1922 on twenty-six acres of private land and is surrounded by natural beauty. It began as a family summer lodge back then, but today, it is a romantic bed and breakfast. Breakfast is included and is served daily, there’s a beautiful garden on the property, and you can expect to see wildlife along the hotel’s riverfront, too.
- Vacation Rental Near the RMNP Beaver Meadows Entrance – Lucky Stars – This cabin was built in 1935 and is on a one-acre lot; it’s walking distance from the Beaver Meadows Entrance to the park and is just three miles from downtown. It’s been renovated recently, so the interior is up to date including a fully-equipped kitchen with new appliances, granite countertops, and a renovated bathroom, but it still has the original hardwood floors.
See Related: Things to Do in Denver, Colorado
Is Estes Park, Colorado, safe?
Estes Park is a very safe place to vacation and explore. There is little crime in this area beyond occasional petty theft, which is to be expected in a touristy environment. As long as you keep track of your valuable personal belongings like your wallet, purse, and cell phone, it would be best if you didn’t have much to worry about during your stay in town or near the park. Of course, you should always keep an eye out for bears and other wildlife, but you likely won’t have to worry about them much either.
When is the best time of the year to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?
Rocky Mountain National Park is a wonderful place to visit any time of the year. Most people flock to this area during the summertime, so you’re likely to find Estes Park quite crowded and busy in June, July, August, and September on any day of the week. Things start to slow down toward the end of September and in October, and then Estes is not very busy at all during the winter and spring. Many people find the winter and spring months to be the best time to visit to avoid crowds – hotel prices drop immensely during the off-season – but there is still plenty to do, both inside and outside of the park.
Will I need a rental car to enjoy Estes Park, Colorado?
Although it’s possible to enjoy and explore Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park without a personal vehicle, having one will certainly help. We advise that you rent a car to get to Estes Park from Denver International Airport and also to explore the national park to the fullest. There are free shuttles in town and in the park that you can use if you want to save money, but you’ll love the freedom afforded by having a car to explore this area at your own pace and on your own schedule.
Is Estes Park, Colorado, dog friendly?
Estes Park is a welcoming place for dogs and their owners. People in Colorado love dogs; in fact, you’ll see dogs everywhere during your visit to the Centennial State. Many of the hotels listed above allow pets, although you may need to pay an additional pet fee when you check in.
Most of the area’s trails are open to pets, and your dog will enjoy running around in the great outdoors in this nature-focused vacation destination. However, dogs are not allowed on trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, so keep that in mind. No matter where you and your pup decide to explore, please keep him or her on a leash unless you know for sure that an area is leash-free, and be sure to pick up after your dog, too.