Estes Park in the Mountains of Colorado – photo by user: NyttendCredit: photo by user: Nyttend

Estes Park sits in a valley in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado at an elevation of about 7,522 feet above sea level.    About 10,000 years ago, Ute and Arapaho Indian Tribes summered in the Estes Park area; but the little town is named for one of the earliest white settlers, a rancher named Joel Estes.  

Estes Park has a reputation as a resort.  Millions of people have vacationed in the mountain town, including Pope John II, The Emperor of Japan and President George W. Bush.  The downtown area boasts river and lakefront walkways, a riverside sculpture garden, an abundance of wildflowers, sidewalk benches and a main street lined with Victorian lights.  

Elk are Part of Wildlife Landscape in Estes Park 

One of the draws to the area, especially in the fall is the elk.  During September and October is the elk mating season and the rutting calls of the bull elk (bugling) can be heard around dusk and continuing until dawn.  In recent years elk herds have converged on the downtown and golf courses of Estes Park.  In late September-early October, the town has its annual Elk Fest which featuElk at the Haunted Stanley Hotel – photo by Matthew W. JacksonCredit: photo by Matthew W. Jacksonres bugling competitions, educational areas, live music, storytelling and various vendors selling arts and crafts and a wide variety of food choices.    

Up the road in the Rocky Mountain National Park, the elk typically gather in the meadows and can be viewed from the roadways and trails.   At Horseshoe Park, local volunteers are on hand in the early evening to give interpretive information.  Coupled with the changing colors of foliage this can be an experience not soon forgotten. 

Music Festivals Fill the Colorado Air with Beautiful Sounds 

Throughout different seasons of the year, Estes Park offers music festivals that include the annual jazz festival in the spring and SummerFest that features music and entertainment throughout the summeMarines Perform at Annual Music Festival – photo courtesy of the United States Marine Corps – photographer: Lance Cpl. Zachary J. NolaCredit: photo courtesy of the United States Marine Corps – photographer: Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nolar months.  The famous Stanley Hotel hosts Sunday afternoon concerts in the winter. 

In June, Estes Park is host to the Scandinavian Festival. Throughout the day, there is dancing by various folk groups and live Scandinavian music performances; some that encourage participation.  There are Scandinavian food and craft vendors and a Viking encampment.  Other festivals include the Wool Festival and Scottish-Highland Festival. 

Something for Everyone 

Antique and other specialty shops, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and scenic tours await the visitor to Estes Park.   Christmas parades, an abundance of cultural festivals, rodeos, and horse shows; no matter the season, something is offered to enhance the delight of the vacationer.  Visit the famous Stanley Hotel and see if room 217 is really haunted; take a stroll along the river and marvel at the beautiful colors of the landscape.  

Just be sure to bring the camera; the opportunity for a magnificent photo is frequent. Music festivals, rutting elk or a haunted hotel, Estes Park, nestled in the rocky mountains of Colorado, has something for everyone. 

Getting to Estes Park is easy.  The drive from Denver is about 90 minutes.  Considered the Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, routes are well marked on maps.  Estes Park offers many choices in lodging including rental cabins, bed and breakfast inns and the famous Stanley Hotel in addition to lodges and motels.


The copyright of the article “Estes Park Colorado Offers Year-Round Entertainment” is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

Best Estes Park Hikes: Twenty of the Best Hikes Near Estes Park, Colorado (Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guides)
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From short and easy to long and difficult and everywhere in between, this book guides you to the best twenty hiking trails in Estes Park.

Elk Bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park is a beautiful drive through the Colorado Mountains