Planning Our July Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

Growing up my Nana claimed that after the 4th of July holiday, summer always flies by. I’m not ready for this summer to be over, so I’m hoping our upcoming trip to Rocky Mountain National Park will slow down time. I can’t wait to relax in the mountains before we have to worry about the uncertainty of the 2020 school year. (Plus, I may be in denial that my oldest is starting kindergarten).

dream hike

I have a long list of hikes I want to attempt during our upcoming trip to the mountains. Dream Lake is at the top of my list. The hike begins at Bear Lake trail head in Rocky Mountain National Park. The first section climbs uphill. Soon you arrive at Nymph Lake which is known for it’s lake lilies. The hike up also includes mountain views and a waterfall.

The total distance is 1.1 miles each way. We’ve hiked to Dream Lake several times as a family, but this will be the first time my 5-year-old daughter will hike it on her own. Other hikes on my wish list include Hollowell Park, Calyspo Cascades in the Wild Basin, and Black Canyon Trail in the Lumpy Ridge area of RMNP.

Rocky Mountain National Park has a new timed entry system. We reserved early morning spots for each day of our trip through recreation.gov. It will be interesting to see how the new system affects traffic in these popular hiking destinations.

Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National Park
Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

dream Drive

I’m also eager to explore the Alpine Tundra. Our plan is to drive up Old Fall River Road and connect to Trail Ridge Road. Potential hikes along our way include the Tundra Community Trail and Poudre Lake.

The views on the tundra are incredible. In the past we’ve hiked the Alpine Ridge Trail and a portion of the Ute Trail. I highly recommend both.

Hiking on the Tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park

dream day trip

Although we will be spending most of our vacation in Estes Park, we want to take a day trip to Grand Lake, Colorado. Potential activities near Grand Lake include renting kayaks or hiking from the East Shore trail head. In the past we’ve enjoyed hiking the East Meadow and Coyote Valley. If you are looking for a place to stay on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, I recommend checking out this spot in Granby.

Grand Lake Colorado

dream dinner with views

I’m excited to head up into the mountains where we can take advantage of the cooler temperatures. I’m on the lookout for restaurants with patios. Latitude 105 is at the top of my list. I also want to check out Dunraven’s new location near Lake Estes. We’ve listed all our favorite restaurants in Estes Park here.

dream dessert

We are pretty loyal to our favorite ice cream shop in Estes Park. I can’t wait to get a big scoop at Hayley’s!

Best Icecream in Estes Park, Colorado

kid-sized dreams

I asked my girls what they want to do on our trip. They said they want to get hot chocolate at Coffee on the Rocks and pick out a rock at the Red Rose Rock Shop next door.

Rock Shop Estes Park Colorado
Rock Shop in Estes Park, Colorado

finding balance

Beyond all of the fun dreams I have for our trip, I want to be intentional about the way I use my down time. I’m going to challenge myself to take significant breaks from social media feeds and news updates while I’m away, basically a social media detox. I’m going to focus on being in the moment out in nature and spending quality time with my family.

At the same time, I also want to come back with some awesome new content to share here. Last month we saw tremendous growth in traffic. I’m excited to see how many people are visiting and hopefully finding helpful information about Rocky Mountain National Park and Northwest Arkansas. Thank you for following!

What We are Adding to our Favorite Restaurants and Breweries List Near Estes Park, Colorado

One of the most popular questions we get from friends and family who are traveling to Estes Park, Colorado is where we like to go out to eat. To help answer that question, we’ve added a page under ‘Estes Park’ to list our favorite restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, and winery.

Some of the restaurants that I’m most excited about are new finds for us this year. I’m also adding a few suggestions in the nearby towns of Lyons and Boulder where we often stop for lunch on our way into town.

New Picks: Restaurants and breweries Near Estes Park, Colorado

Latitude 105 at the Ridgeline Hotel in Estes Park – This modern mountain restaurant has a good lunch and dinner menu. There was something for everyone from juicy burgers to flavorful salads. We liked the laid back atmosphere of the restaurant so much, that we went twice during our last trip. I appreciate that they serve beers from local Estes Park breweries, while also offering items on their bar menu that are gluten free. On our second visit, we sat outside in red andirondack chairs with friends and family.

Latitude 105 outdoor seating restaurant in estes park. gluten free options

Waterfront Grille in Estes Park – We enjoyed a great lunch at Waterfront Grille. The highlight was the gorgeous views of Lake Estes and the proximity of a playground to burn off energy after lunch.

restaurant with a view in estes park. waterfront grille

Mojo Taqueria in Lyons – Mexican food is my favorite. We sat out on their patio and enjoyed fresh chips and salsa and tacos. The meal was delicious.

Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons – This is the original Oskar Blues location. They serve lunch and dinner. We enjoy their pizza, and of course their beer.

Avery Brewing in Boulder – We stopped in for lunch. I enjoyed their outdoor space. Ellie’s Brown is one of my favorite beers, so this was a special treat to sip a pint directly from the source.

Our full list of favorite restaurants is here. We will continue to add to this list as we find new places we enjoy. Let us know if you have suggestions by leaving a comment.