So, you want to know where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park? From well-known Estes Park to quieter Grand Lake, these are the best areas for your trip.
It’s hard not to stare in awe when you drive around the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road near Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. I came close to getting whiplash, trying to catch every view I could around Milner Pass, Rainbow Curve, and the meandering highway travelling from 8,000 to over 12,000 feet up the Rockies.
Many people visit Rocky Mountain National Park for an afternoon and call it a day. I think that’s a mistake.
You need at least a few days to take in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains’ rivers, lakes, and high-altitude, higher-octane adventures.
If you’re looking for Rocky Mountain National Park ideas for where to stay, keep reading.
These are 5 of the best places to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park so you can make the most of your trip. Start planning your epic trip out west now.
Best Places to Stay in Rocky Mountain National Park: At a Glance
|Best Hotels Near Rocky Mountain National Park – Top Picks||Hotel|
|Best Rocky Mountain National Park Cabins||The Evergreens On Fall River Cabins|
|Best Hotel for Couples||Discovery Lodge|
|Best Hotel for Outdoor Activities||YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch|
|Best Boutique Hotel Near Rocky Mountain National Park||Oasis on Eisenhower|
Where to Stay in Rocky Mountain National Park
So you want to know where to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park? You can’t stay in the park itself (unless you’re camping), but here are a few of my favourite ideas for where to call home base between your adventures in the Rockies.
Estes Park: Best Overall Place to Stay
Wondering where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park? There are dozens of great places to stay in Estes Park, most of which offer access to the park entrance in about 10 minutes.
It’s an excellent choice for visitors who want to explore everything the park offers, from hiking to stargazing at night.
But where should you stay and what should you do? Here are a few tips about the best places to stay around Rocky Mountain National Park.
Estes Park Highlights
From beginner trails like Dream Lake and the famous Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park to the more challenging Ute Trail along the Continental Divide, Estes Park hikes offer something for everyone.
Tour the Stanley Hotel
Take a walk through the world-famous resort that might look eerily familiar. Stanley Hotel was the star of Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Take a night tour if you want to dive right into spooky season.
Grand Lake: Hidden Gem Near Rocky Mountain National Park
Most out-of-towners head to Estes Park when they visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Look, I can’t blame them – I fell head over heels on my first visit.
But heading to Grand Lake allows you to see some of the more under-the-radar spots along Trail Ridge Road.
The “Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado” offers the perfect mix of outdoor fun and some of the best places to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park on the hush. So let’s have a look.
Grand Lake Highlights
Trail Ridge Marina
Explore the often chilly but always scenic waters of Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake from the Trail Ridge Marina. Rent boats, jet skis, or kayaks to cruise around the shores of a couple of Colorado’s most scenic lakes.
Just west of Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll find over 300 miles of scenic snowmobiling trails that stretch from Bowen Gulch to the edge of Arapaho National Forest.
Holzwarth Historic Site
If you want to know what it was like to live in the Rocky Mountains in the 20th century, hike to the log cabin and possibly Colorado’s first dude ranch just up the road from Grand Lake.
Granby: Best Place to Stay for Outdoor Activities
When deciding where to stay in the Rocky Mountains, it’s not hard to find endless outdoor adventure. I’m not exaggerating when I say there are about a thousand things to do in the mountains and lakes near RMNP.
But Granby delivers something for nearly anyone with access to ski resorts, golf courses, and scenic lakeside hiking trails – all within 30 minutes of the park entrance.
Hike Around Monarch Lake
Take a leisurely stroll around this large reservoir that’s a favourite for hiking thanks to the idyllic mountain setting, clear blue waters, and mostly flat trails.
Craft Beer at Never Summer
Colorado is famous for its craft beer, so why not try one of the most popular local breweries near RMNP, Never Summer. You can choose from familiar styles like an IPA or go for something different, like the raspberry stout.
The Inn at Silvercreek
Rooms are a bit dated, but the central location plus perks like the racquetball court, sauna, and pools give you plenty to do.
Loveland: Best for Nightlife
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Loveland is an excellent choice for accommodation if you don’t mind a bit longer drive in and out of the park.
Located about an hour away, you’ll make up for the long drive with more hotels, restaurants, and things to do.
How about heading to a barcade after you get back from Rocky Mountain National Park? The Flipside has pinball, air hockey, and a couple dozen other arcade games (along with cocktail service). It’s a perfect way to unwind after a long day enjoying the great outdoors.
Hiking in Loveland
There are plenty of hiking trails in Loveland to help you adjust to the elevation change before visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Devil’s Backbone, a 4-mile jaunt with moderate elevation change, is one of my favourites.
Sweet Heart Winery lets you take in first-rate views of the Rockies from a picturesque tasting room that offers wine flights, by-the-glass pours, and bottles to go.
Allenspark: Where to Stay Near Rocky Mountain National Park For a Cabin Experience
Allenspark is about as close as you can get to staying inside a log cabin in Rocky Mountain National Park.
It’s about 15 minutes down the road from Estes Park and only about 5 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead of the park and has some great choices for hotels and vacation rentals.
Calypso Cascades Hike
One of the best Rocky Mountain National Park hiking trails is this 9.3-mile out-and-back near Allenspark. You’ll climb nearly 2,000 feet, but the mountain and waterfall views are worth every step of the way.
Saint Catherine’s Chapel on the Rock
The famous cathedral designed by Jacques Benedict is a gorgeous stone church in the national park that sits high up on a hill with a scenic mountain backdrop behind it.
If you’re looking for where to stay for Rocky Mountain National Park hiking, Allenspark is it. For the most serious hikers, you’re only 5 minutes from the tallest peak in Colorado, which you can hike on this Longs Peak trail, where you climb nearly 5,000 feet.
Where to Stay in Rocky Mountain National Park: Frequently Asked Questions
Estes Park is my recommendation when choosing lodging near Rocky Mountain National Park. But if you don’t mind a longer drive, Loveland and Boulder are great picks.
Driving is the easiest way to get from place to place, but you can also take a shuttle starting at Bear Lake Road. Keep in mind the hiker shuttle requires reservations. You can learn more about it here.
For the best weather, you’ll want to visit Rocky Mountain National Park between May and October. I think autumn is perfect for fall colours and better hotel deals.
Practical Tips to Consider Before Booking Your Rocky Mountain National Park Trip
- Summer is the peak season in most Rocky Mountain National Park areas. Reserve ahead of time to score reservations at the best hotels.
- Estes Park is the closest area to the national park, but Grand Lake isn’t much further away and has some equally great places to stay.
- When deciding where to stay close to Rocky Mountain National Park, choose which entrance you want to be closest to. The park has access points near Estes Park, Grand Lake, and Allenspark, each offering unique hiking trails and landmarks.
- There are also plenty of fun towns and cities a little further away from the park. Check out this article about where to stay in Colorado if you want to drive in from Boulder, Denver, or other cities a bit further away.
Places to Stay Near RMNP: Map
Explore More of Rocky Mountain National Park & Its Surrounds
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