Nestled within the breathtaking beauty of Colorado’s winter landscape, about two hours North of Denver, Estes Park comes alive during the winter with a magical allure. As the snowflakes gently descend, the town transforms into a picturesque wonderland, adorned with an array of twinkling holiday lights that cast a warm glow upon the charming streets and local businesses.
Among the town’s many treasures, The Stanley Hotel stands tall as an iconic landmark, drawing visitors from far and wide. Immortalized in Stephen King’s chilling novel “The Shining,” this historic hotel invites guests to step into a world of mystique and intrigue, where they can explore its elegant corridors and perhaps reminisce about their favorite Kubrick movies scenes.
Beyond the hotel’s captivating aura, this small town boasts the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountain National Park, a true natural gem. Here, winter unveils a striking scene of snow-covered trails, framed by majestic peaks and tranquil forests. Adventurers can witness the graceful movements of elk as they traverse the rugged terrain, offering an unforgettable wildlife encounter amidst a breathtaking backdrop.
Estes Park as a whole is a place where winter casts its enchanting spell, immersing visitors in a world of natural wonders, literary inspiration, and cultural treasures. While strolling through the snow-kissed streets may be the adventure you are looking for, there is so much more to do.
Here are some of our favorites!
The Best Sites to Visit in Estes Park
Estes Park, Colorado, is a picturesque destination with an abundance of natural beauty and attractions.
Here are three top sites to visit during your time in Estes Park:
Rocky Mountain National Park
No visit to Estes Park is complete without exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. This iconic national park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With over 355 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and wildlife viewing opportunities, the park offers endless exploration. Be sure to visit popular spots like Bear Lake, Trail Ridge Road, and Moraine Park for breathtaking views of mountains, alpine lakes, and diverse wildlife.
The Stanley Hotel
Known for its historical significance and captivating architecture, The Stanley Hotel is a must-visit site in Estes Park. This grand hotel is famous as the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel, “The Shining.” Take a guided tour of the hotel to learn about its history, ghost stories, and unique features. The hotel also offers dining options, a whiskey bar, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Estes Park Aerial Tramway
For panoramic views of Estes Park and the Rocky Mountains, a ride on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway is a must. The tramway takes you to the summit of Prospect Mountain, offering stunning vistas of the town, valleys, and mountains. Enjoy the fresh mountain air and take in the breathtaking scenery from the observation deck. It’s an experience that offers a unique perspective of Estes Park’s natural beauty.
For more about the tram click here!
These top sites in Estes Park offer a combination of natural wonders, historical significance, and breathtaking views. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park, explore the grandeur of The Stanley Hotel, and enjoy the panoramic vistas from the Estes Park Aerial Tramway. Estes Park has something for everyone, making it an unforgettable destination in Colorado.
The Best Restaurants in Estes Park
Estes Park, Colorado is known for its stunning natural beauty, but it also offers a diverse culinary scene.
Here are three top-rated restaurants in Estes Park that are sure to please your taste buds:
The View Restaurant at The Historic Crags Lodge
Located within The Historic Crags Lodge, The View Restaurant offers not only a delectable dining experience but also breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The restaurant serves a variety of American cuisine with an emphasis on local flavors. During the Christmas season, The View Restaurant adds a festive touch to its menu and decor, providing a delightful setting to enjoy a meal while gazing at the scenic beauty of Estes Park. Indulge in a holiday meal and savor the stunning vistas at The View Restaurant.
The Dunraven Inn is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. This family-owned restaurant offers a warm and inviting atmosphere, with its rustic décor and friendly service. Known for its Italian cuisine, the menu features classic dishes like pasta, pizza, and seafood. Be sure to try their renowned prime rib, which is a favorite among diners. With its cozy ambiance and flavorful dishes, the Dunraven Inn provides a memorable dining experience.
Bird & Jim
Bird & Jim is a contemporary American restaurant that prides itself on serving elevated mountain cuisine. With a commitment to using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, they offer a menu that reflects the flavors of the Rocky Mountains. From elk and bison to trout and vegetarian options, their dishes showcase the best of Colorado’s culinary offerings. The restaurant also boasts a stylish and modern interior, with large windows that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Please note that availability and menus may vary, so it’s always a good idea to check their websites or make reservations in advance. These three restaurants offer not only exceptional dining experiences but also a chance to soak in the beauty of Estes Park while enjoying delicious food.
What Else to Do in Estes Park
Estes Park, Colorado, is a magical place to celebrate Christmas, offering a variety of festive activities for visitors to enjoy.
Here are three top activities to partake in during Christmas:
Visit the Estes Park Tree Lighting Ceremony
Kick off the holiday season by attending the annual Estes Park Tree Lighting Ceremony. Usually held in late November or early December, this event brings the community together to witness the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree. Enjoy live music, hot cocoa, and festive decorations while waiting for the magical moment when the tree illuminates the night sky. It’s a wonderful way to start your Christmas celebrations in Estes Park.
Snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park
Embrace the winter wonderland in Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a scenic drive through the park and enjoy the snow-capped peaks, frozen lakes, and serene landscapes. If conditions permit, engage in winter activities such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing along designated trails. The park’s breathtaking beauty combined with the holiday spirit creates a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
Festive Shopping and Events in Downtown Estes Park
Downtown Estes Park comes alive with festive cheer during Christmas. Explore the local shops and boutiques, adorned with twinkling lights and holiday decorations. Find unique gifts, crafts, and souvenirs to commemorate your visit. The downtown area also hosts various holiday events and activities, including visits from Santa Claus, carolers, and live entertainment. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere and enjoy the warmth of community spirit.
Christmas Events and Activities at The Stanley Hotel
We’re back to mention the iconic Stanley Hotel again because it offers special Christmas events and activities for visitors to enjoy. Attend a holiday-themed concert, enjoy a festive dinner, or participate in a holiday workshop. The hotel’s grand architecture, holiday decorations, and historic charm create a truly enchanting ambiance for Christmas celebrations.
While these places and activities barely scratch the surface of what Estes Park, Colorado has in store, we hope that we at least provided you with a base to get you interest in a little town you may have never heard about. These activities, restaurants, and places to visit provide a blend of holiday traditions, outdoor adventures, and festive shopping experiences.
Immerse yourself in the joyous Christmas spirit in Estes Park, Colorado, and create lasting memories in this picturesque mountain town