The Best in Estes Park: A Cinnamon Roll Showdown

In January our family went to Estes Park on a mission to find the best chili in town. We had so much fun seeking out our favorite flavors, we decided to do another food adventure in May. This time we were craving our favorite breakfast treat – cinnamon rolls!

how we chose which cinnamon rolls to taste test

Unfortunately, we were somewhat limited on how many cinnamon rolls we could try during our trip to Estes Park. We decided since we were in town for a week we would taste a new cinnamon roll every other day. That means we tried rolls from four different restaurants. We chose the restaurants based on trip advisor, yelp reviews, and our own prior experience. Our cinnamon roll showdown contenders were Scratch Deli, Notchtop Bakery & Cafe, Trailhead Restaurant, and Cinnamon’s Bakery.

We judged based on appearance/presentation, taste and texture of the roll itself, and taste of the icing.

scratch deli & Bakery

Scratch Deli is one of our favorite lunch spots in Estes Park. The deli is inside a small space, so we always take our sandwiches to-go. This was our first time ordering anything sweet off their menu. The cinnamon rolls were very good. You could tell the dough was made fresh. The icing wasn’t overly sweet – even a little tangy. By the time we got home, we had to warm the rolls up a little bit in the microwave to get the full ooey-gooey effect.

notchtop Bakery and Cafe

One thing we noticed about all the cinnamon rolls we tried in Estes Park – they are generous in serving size! Every time we ordered, we split two rolls between our family of four and usually had some left over. The cinnamon rolls at Notchtop were delicious. The texture of the roll at Notchtop stood out among the others.

trailhead restaurant

This was the only cinnamon roll that we ate at the restaurant, so it had the advantage of being the warmest roll we tasted. Our girls (ages 3 and 5) both voted this as their top choice. I think they especially appreciate the sweetness of the frosting. We loved sitting on the back deck with views of Deer Mountain. Trailhead was the first restaurant we’ve been to for months because of COVID-19, which makes the memory even sweeter.

Cinnamon’s Bakery

Locals and visitors alike flock to Cinnamon’s Bakery for their fresh rolls. Considering how much we love cinnamon rolls, it’s surprising that this was our first visit to Cinnamon’s Bakery. This place is so popular, that my husband patiently waited in line outside and texted me, ‘should have camped’. Thankfully, the line moved quickly and he secured the rolls before they sold out.

And the winners are…

Best Roll – Notchtop
Kids Favorite – Trailhead
Best All Around – Cinnamon’s (but if they are sold out, head on over to Scratch and order some amazing sandwiches to go along with your rolls)

That’s our opinion, but we’d love to hear what you think!

estes Park restaurant News

We keep a list of our favorite places to eat and drink in Estes Park on our website. During our last trip, we noticed several location changes in town and wanted to share here:

The Dunraven Inn moved to a new location at the Estes Park Resort on Lake Estes. Dunraven has been our go-to date night spot, so we are eager to visit their new location. They are expanding service to include breakfast and lunch. You can read more here.

Twin Owls Steakhouse is moving to Taharaa Mountain Lodge. Several years ago we went to Twin Owls Steakhouse for an anniversary dinner. We are thrilled to see the change of location because it’s close to our old condo at Mary’s Lake Lodge. The views over there are unbelievable, especially around sunset.

Over the winter, The Other Side restaurant became Wayfinder. I took a look at their menu, and there are several items I’m eager to try.

I know there were many people (including us) who were sad to see Donut Haus closing last summer. The good news is the popular donuts will now be available at Tiny Town Sinclair (860 Moraine Ave).

Mass in the Mountains

One of our favorite afternoon activities in Estes Park, Colorado is to take relaxing drives to spot wildlife and enjoy views of the surrounding mountains. In December, we grabbed a couple of steaming lattes at the new Ziggi’s Coffee drive-thru and headed down Highway 7, which is part of the Peak to Peak National Scenic Byway.

peak to peak
Picture of signage posted near Allenspark, Colorado.

Along the way we stopped at Saint Malo Center which is located in Allenspark, Colorado between two of our favorite destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park, Lily Lake and the Wild Basin.

Much of Saint Malo Center is undergoing needed restoration work caused by damage from fire, flooding and landslides. The scenery remains heavenly with views of Mount Meeker.

“Upon arriving in Denver I lifted my eyes toward the splendor of the Rocky Mountains, whose majesty and power recall that all our help comes from the Lord, who has made heaven and earth (cf. Ps. 121:1). He alone is the rock of our salvation. (cf. Ps. 89:26).”

Pope John Paul II
The Chapel on the Rock was built in the 1930s

Pope St. John Paul II hiked the trails around the center and he blessed St. Catherine of Siena Chapel, also known as Chapel on the Rock, while visiting Denver for World Youth Day in 1993.

You don’t have to be a saint to visit the chapel, it’s open to the public year round from 10 am to 4 pm (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas). Mass is held each Wednesday at Noon.

More information about the history and future renovations at St. Malo Center can be found at campstmalo.org.

This picture of inside the Chapel was taken during a prior visit in May 2015

I am Catholic, so you would think after years of visiting this beautiful spot I would have made it to Mass there once, but unfortunately I have not.

The chapel in the snow December 2015

We typically attend service at Our Lady of the Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado. Worship times are on their website. Perhaps this picture of the girls and me in our Easter dresses helps explain why I have failed to take a picture of Our Lady of the Mountains. When we make it to church these days, my hands are pretty full.

I often feel a special spiritual connection while I’m hiking in the mountains, but we are happy that there are several options to experience Catholic churches in Estes Park as well – whether it’s a quiet moment to say a prayer at the Chapel on the Rock or a full Mass at Our Lady of the Mountains.

If you make it through a special hike or an hour-long Sunday service, you can’t go wrong with Donut Haus in Estes Park to reward everyone’s good behavior. When we’ve been there, the Sunday special has been blueberry donuts. You have to get there early before they sell out, especially in the summer.

Winter Refresh

I updated this post about one of our first hikes in the Wild Basin Area of Rocky Mountain National Park. I also added a pair of fingerless gloves to Shop Our Favorite Things. I think they would help with winter picture taking. Has anyone tried wearing fingerless gloves? Do they still keep you warm?