It’s no secret that I love Rocky Mountain National Park. There is so much to do and see that it’s really hard to narrow down the highlights to a one-day itinerary, but if you just have one day to spend here’s my suggestions:
Breakfast in Estes Park
Start early and get fueled up on good food and good coffee. My favorite sit-down breakfast is Notchtop Bakery & Cafe. You can stare out the windows at the Rockies while you eat. They have a fun kids menu – our toddler likes their pancakes! We also love Kind Coffee which opens even earlier. I enjoy their oatmeal, breakfast burritos and of course coffee!
Family Friendly Hiking
If you are feeling acclimated to the elevation, head up to Bear Lake. Take a nice stroll around the lake and capture a Christmas card worthy family picture with Hallett Peak behind you. From there you can hike to Alberta Falls for some more great family photo ops. Hike on to beautiful Mills Lake or The Loch if you want more of a challenge.
Lunch in Estes Park
Lunch time! Call ahead and order a sandwich to-go from Scratch – Deli & Bakery. Their deli is small but the Turkey-Bacon-Avocado sandwich is huge and amazing. It’s great for a picnic on Lake Estes where kids can enjoy the fun playground next to the marina.
Lake Estes Marina offers afternoon activities like renting pontoon boats or pedal carts. They are typically open May through October, but we’ve learned it’s good to call ahead to verify.
Estes Park Riverwalk
From there you can walk through downtown Estes Park along the river walk and enjoy local shopping and a treat. I’m a huge fan of ice cream and we love Hayley’s.
Early evening is a great time to spot wildlife. Take a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park and make sure to search for elk in the Moraine Valley and near Horseshoe Park/Sheep Lakes.
Dinner in Estes Park
For dinner go to Poppy’s Pizza & Grill and sit outside by the river. They have good pizza and an impressive drink selection which includes locally brewed beer.
I hope this sample itinerary is a helpful starting point. Once you spend a day in beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park, I’m sure you’ll be planning your next trip back soon.