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:
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 – Cecy likes their pancakes! They are located at 459 E Wonderview Ave in Estes Park, CO and are open from 7am – 3pm. We also love Kind Coffee which opens even earlier (6:30am – 7pm). The coffee shop is located at 470 E Elkhorn Ave which is right on the river walk. I enjoy their oatmeal, breakfast burritos and of course coffee!
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 time! Call ahead and order a sandwich to-go from Scratch – Deli & Bakery which is located at 911 Moraine Ave. 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.
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 Hailey’s located at 102 W Elkhorn Ave.
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.
For dinner go to Poppy’s Pizza & Grill and sit outside by the river. They are located at 342 East Elkhorn Avenue. 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.