1 Day Itinerary in Rocky Mountain National Park

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!

Breakfast at Notchtop

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.

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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 

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.

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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.

celebrating Estes Cone with ice cream cone

Wildlife Spotting

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.

Elk in Estes Park

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.

poppys pizza estes park

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. 

Lily Lake Loop on a Snowy Spring Morning

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Last week we took a last-minute family road trip to Estes Park, Colorado with our two-year-old, Cecy and our two-month-old, Evy. On the second day of our trip we woke up to snow and decided to go to Lily Lake, which is one of our favorite places in Rocky Mountain National Park. We love it so much that we named Evy – Evelyn Lily after the lake and nearby Lily Mountain. Hopefully when she grows up she thinks that’s cool and not completly corny!?

We pulled on the layers and (mostly) enjoyed the big, white, fluffy flakes. Cecy rode in the sled for part of the .8 mile hike.

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And on her Daddy’s shoulders for the rest.

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While little Evy enjoyed cuddling all warm next to me in our Ergo carrier. You can see the snow was really accumulating quickly on my hat! IMG_7583

We were the only (crazy) ones on the trail and it felt pretty magical.

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We spotted a few ducks swimming in the cold.

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Based on the weather forecast we were surprised when we ended our hike that it was still snowing and that it had snowed so much.  The roads were pretty slippery on the drive back to our condo.

Lesson learned!! Next time we’ll check cotrip.org. They have a camera setup right by Lily Lake to show road conditions.

According to the Spring 2017 edition of RMNP newspaper, Spring is the snowiest season in Rocky Mounation National Park. ‘On average, some of the biggest snowstorms of the year happen in March, April, and even May. Be prepared.’

Besides checking road conditions, you can also check trail conditions at go.nps.gov/RockyTrailConditions.

 

 

The Pool: Evy’s First Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

This was a great first hike for our little Evy. She slept the whole way – snuggled in warm against her mamma.

Last week we made a crazy, last-minute decision to take a trip to Colorado with our toddler and newborn. They did  great on the long drive to Estes Park which makes me optimistic about future trips as a family of 4.

We decided to hike to The Pool which is one of our family’s favorite 2-4 mile hikes. The lower elevation was great for me because I haven’t done a whole lot of exercise since Evy was born in January and also great for my husband who had to carry our growing toddler. We started our hike at Fern Lake trail head in the Moraine Valley.

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We walked through a few patches of snow and some areas that were a little wet and muddy from melt, but overall the trail was in good walking condition.

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We spotted this waterfall which seemed to be the culprit for some of the sogginess.

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1.2 miles into our hike we arrived at the always-impressive Arch Rocks.

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Eventually our two-year-old Cecy negotiated with her dad to get out of the carrier. She was carried over jagged rocks that we were afraid she might slip on.

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She walked a good distance too! She got tripped up on a rock, but made a quick recovery.

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We stopped for a snack which made everyone happy.

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1.7 miles into our journey along the Big Thompson River we made it to The Pool.

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If you cross over the bridge, the trail will continue on to Fern Falls and Fern Lake.

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This was a great first hike for our little Evy. She slept the whole way –  snuggled in warm against her mamma.

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We love our girls and can’t wait to take them on more adventures in RMNP!

Riding High in New Kid Carrier

On our most recent trip to Colorado we were excited to try out our new kid carrier for a hike up to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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After renting packs for our last few trips, we decided to buy a Deuter carrier from REI (similar).

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Cecy enjoyed the view riding up high. She seemed very comfortable and there was more space between her and my husband so they didn’t get as hot. We also bought a sun roof and rain cover for the carrier (similar) which will come in handy this summer.

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The Deuter carrier came with a little stuffed bear which we nicked named ‘buddy’.Overall, I think this is going to be a great investment for family hiking adventures.