Estes Park, Colorado

Your guide to a successful trip in the Rocky Mountains


Caroline Henson

The snow-capped Rocky Mountains and the shimmering waters of Lake Estes.

It is summer time! For some families, that means it’s time for their annual summer vacation. While most might think of warm, sunny beaches and catching a tan as their paradise for this time of year, the mountains provide some unique opportunities not seen elsewhere in the summer. 

When vacationing in the mountains, you can view beautiful scenery and wildlife not seen in Texas while avoiding the hassle of driving in snow. This means that if you choose to fly, it is less likely that your flight will get canceled due to inclement weather. You could also do the alternative and take a road trip. Although, it is a 12 hour drive from Stephenville, TX to Estes Park, CO, the views along the way are spectacular. 

Early summer is also one of the best times to view baby animals in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Bear cubs begin to emerge from their den around March, while bison and wolves can be observed in April and May. Elk are typically born around June. 

While in Rocky Mountain National Park this June, my family and I had a ton of opportunities to drive the park and see the newborn wildlife. It is important to note that if you do see a baby with its mother, do not approach too closely or the mom will charge. Animals need their space from strangers to protect their young and the moms in National Parks are no exception. You might find that the wildlife in these parks are also friendlier than some you may see in unprotected areas, this is a result of the heavy traffic in and out of the parks throughout the year. 

Camping and hiking are popular endeavors and are encouraged here, but a certain permit must be bought ahead of time and your scheduled route is important for others to have for location purposes during a possible emergency. There are two options for camping: in a camper at a campsite location or in tents along trails through the mountains. 

If hiking is not in your plans, no worries. There are still plenty of other opportunities to get out in nature in Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park like visiting Lake Estes or a tour of the park with the Wildside 4×4 Tours. Lake Estes is a recreational hub where tourists and locals can fish, kayak, paddle board, or even rent a boat. Wildside 4×4 Tours offer a gorgeous tour through the Rocky Mountains up to the Alpine Visitor’s Center, stopping at the Stanley Hotel that was the inspiration for Stephen King’s book “The Shining” and wildlife hotspots throughout the park. 

Local eateries are another main attraction in Estes Park, some even featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. 

Next time you are planning a vacation, be sure not to discount the unique opportunities and beautiful views that the mountains and national parks hold. In order to enter the Rocky Mountain National Park, you must reserve a slot online at