This town is set in a beautiful valley, and it does have some interesting history. You even have the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King to write "The Shining." With that said, I think your best bet would be to use the town as a place for lodging, food, and fuel. The rest of the time is better spent in the park. After all, that is what you came to see, right?
Most of the traffic you will encounter on this trip will be in Estes Park. I worked there for one summer, and really enjoyed the area. This town has everything that a typical gateway town would have. You have all of the motel chains, fast food, shopping places, miniature golf, etc. you could hope to find. The whole area is full of camps, cabins, and outdoor tour outfitters.
Most people drive up here on Highway 36 via Boulder and Lyons. However, Highway 7 also connects Estes Park with Lyons. It is a little longer, but very scenic. Might I suggest driving up on one highway and driving back on another?
Unique Suggestions: There are some nice hotels here. It does make a good base for exploring the area. If you have a fishing liscence, there is rainbow trout in Lake Estes. There is a grocery store for stocking up on food, and plenty of outdoor clothing places that can fill your needs. It is not really a bad town at all. It just gets a little crowded in the summer and it is certainly oriented towards tourism. I hope they do not overdevelop this place.
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
The scenic outlooks along the main roads of the park do offer great views but are often crowded with people who would prefer to not get out of their car except when they need to stretch their legs. Remember the park has many beautiful areas. Why not find one of your own?