Things to do with kids in Estes Park
Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park is an excellent destination for a family-friendly vacation. Kids love to be let loose in the great outdoors, run wild and be up close to wildlife. And we love it because they get to learn so much from this beautiful and natural environment. If you are thinking about visiting Estes Park with children, please consider one of our two luxury vacation rental, Park Entrance Lodge (8 bedrooms and complete with pool table, indoor shuffleboard, air hockey, foosball, hot tub and fire pit and even an indoor basketball court!) and Lake Estes Retreat (4 bedroom located right on Lake Estes for great views, fishing and other water activities and hot tub and fire pit!)
The great thing about Estes Park is that there is so much to do as a family, but there are also brilliant workshops and ranger-led activities that mean you can leave your kids for a few hours in the hands of some child-loving experts, whilst you tackle a more challenging hiking trail or just enjoy some peaceful downtime.
Little fishing enthusiasts will love fishing in Estes Park. One great option is fishing in Lake Estes. You can fish from the shore or rent a boat from Lake Estes Marina. You can get a fishing license as well as some reasonably priced fishing gear at the marina store. We have also found the staff at the marina to be very knowledgeable about the best fishing spots and what is biting. There are some great fishing spots on Lake Estes that your kids will love! Another option is Trout Haven Fishing Pond . Their team provide visitors with all of the equipment and bait needed to enjoy a day or afternoon trout fishing. The pond is regularly stocked and no license is needed to fish here. The Trout Haven Fishing Pond team are on hand to help and give advice to all age groups.
The team will pack, freeze and store your catch for pick-up when you leave. A packed trout will last 5-6 hours, although you can refrigerate for up to five days, so your little ones can cook their first catch!
What you need to know:
$1.35 per inch for what you catch
$1 per fish to clean
$4 rod rentals
The pond provides accessible fishing
2. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
Hiking in the park isn’t just for adults. We started our kids hiking at a young age and all three have grown to love hiking and spending time in the outdoors. One of the great things about Rocky Mountain National Park is that it is a very large park and there are many options. One thing we learned (the hard way) is to not be overly ambitious and to choose trails that are not too long or difficult. You really need to chose the trail based upon the capabilities of the youngest child. Young children can start out fast and full of exuberance, but can also fade fast, which can make things much less fun for everyone. One of the easiest trails for kids is Sprague Lake, which is less than a mile loop around a picturesque lake. We have seen a lot of wildlife around this lake, including Moose and Elk. There is also a nice parking area that has picnic tables, grills and restrooms. It is right along the small stream that feeds the lake and this can be a great place to set up and spend some time just hanging out. Some of the other hikes that we enjoy that would be suitable for most kids include Bear Lake and Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake.
3. The Mustang Mountain Coaster
The Mustang Mountain Coaster is a fairly new addition to the Estes Park area, just opening in Estes Park in 2021. We have heard great things from those that have taken this ride. Kids will really enjoy it with speeds up to 25 mph and there are great views along the way. Children ages 3 and up can enjoy the Mustang coaster and they will need to be at least 38” inches tall to be able to ride with an adult. In order to ride the Mustang Mountain Coaster solo, the rider will need to be at least 54” tall. To carry another passenger, the initial rider needs to be at least 16 years old. They offer a 1 ride pass for $20 and a 3 ride day pass for $35. They also have an unlimited passenger day pass for those under 54 inches tall for $10.
4. Rock Climbing
It’s hard to top rock climbing as a fun activity with your kids and there are many good options in Estes Park. For those that want to spend a little time indoors learning to rock climb, we recommend you give the Estes Park Indoor Climbing Gym a try at Estes Park Mountain Shop. They are located walking distance to our vacation rental, Lake Estes Retreat. They have over 4,500 sq. ft. of climbing terrain and 125 linear ft. of bouldering. The gym allows climbing for adults and children 5 and over. They have equipment rentals as well as various package deals which can be found at the link above.
If you want to get outside and try rock climbing on natural terrain, we recommend Kent Mountain Adventure Center (KMAC Guides) also located in Estes Park. They can tailor an outdoor adventure to just about any age. If children are young then they can pick an easier location. In a recent discussion with them, they indicated that they don’t set a minimum age, but instead prefer to talk to the family and set up an outing based upon the capabilities of the kids. The video below shows their cliff camping adventure, which is pretty amazing but much more of an adult adventure!
5. Fun City
If your children are in need of an adrenaline rush during their Estes Park vacation then a trip to Fun City will do the trick. This incredible family-friendly play park is set in the beautiful landscape of Estes Valley and has heaps of activities for the whole family to enjoy.
For fast-paced fun, there is a giant rainbow slide to go whizzing down, a bungee trampoline which will have you soaring up into the clouds, bumper cars and a go kart track for little racers. Create a splash in the bumper boats and water walking balls, and for those who want to enjoy an easier paced activities, there are two 18-hole miniature golf course and gemstone panning.
Each activity is independently priced so you don’t have to spend lots of money on activities that you don’t want to do.
6. Open Air Adventure Park
If Fun City hasn’t worn them out, then we guarantee that a trip to Estes Park Open Air Adventure Park. This incredible aerial adventure park is ziplining with a difference! The park allows you to challenge yourself and customize every challenge.
There are a total of 32 challenges at 10 and 21 feet in the air. You’ll be climbing, swinging and flying across the course, from easy rope bridges to the formidable pirate crossing.
The course takes around 90 minutes to complete and aside from the aerial adventure, visitors can also partake in some crazy ax throwing. There are 3 ax lanes and you get 30 minutes of ax chucking per person. Great when you need to let off some steam!
7. YMCA of the Rockies center
Activities galore are offered at YMCA of the Rockies centre. Located close to Estes Park in the Rocky Mountain National Park. The incredible natural setting is perfect to enjoy all types of outdoor activity, including horseback riding, archery, star-gazing tours, rock climbing classes, disc golf and mini golf. The centre also has an indoor climbing wall and swimming pool.
YMCA of the Rockies offer Summer Day Camps for children, so you can immerse your children into activities within the Rocky Mountain National Park guided by experts.
8. Rocky Mountain Conservancy
This beautiful non-profit organization has been protecting the Rocky Mountain National Park lands for more than 80 years. They have many conservancy projects that rely on donations from the public to fund the work, such as the improvement of hiking trails, the preservation of historic buildings and educating the next generation in the importance of preserving our lands.
Besides all of their amazing work, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy also holds free kids classes during the summer, which will teach them how to respect and preserve nature. The classes include wildlife, geocaching and kids survival. Plus there are workshops and educational adventures for the whole family. Check out the Rocky Mountain Conservancy website for dates.
9. The Hedge Maze at Stanley Hotel
Photo credit: amanderson2
The infamous Stanley Hotel immortalized in Stephen King’s film, The Shining, is certainly a crowd puller in Estes Park. And although the stereotypical Stanley Hotel visitor is an adult hoping for a spine tingling experience, little visitors are also welcome and can get lost in the labyrinth which is the Stanley Hotel Maze; planted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the current owner.
The hotel held an international hedge maze competition and asked designers and architects to submit thier best design for a maze. They chose New York-based architect, Mariam Dallaryan Standing, and the maze is planted with Juniper trees, which create the perfect environment for a good old game of hide and seek.
10. Estes Valley Community Center
The Estes Valley Community Center is a one-stop hub for all things recreational in Estes Park. There is so much to do and enjoy here for kids and adults alike. Some of the activities to be enjoyed are swimming, indoor rock climbing, fitness classes, a golf simulator, ping pong, pickleball and much more!
The center also organises activities at Lake Estes Marina, plus the Estes Valley 18-hole and 9-hole golf courses.
11. Off Road/ATV Rentals
This is probably not the best option for really young children, but kids a bit older will likely love the ATV rental options in Estes Park. We rented not too long ago from Backbone Adventures and had a great time. Their website says that you need to be 23 to rent and you must be 16 to drive w/license, but since they are not on the trail with you, they can’t control how old your passengers or drivers are. We spent a few hours driving on one of the trials they regularly use and there was still a good amount of snow in mid-March. The Razors were very capable and we still managed to get one stuck but luckily got it free ultimately. Our kids loved the experience. Note that you will want to exercise some common sense when operating these machines. There is another company in Estes Park called Estes Park ATV Rentals that we have not tried, but they also have good reviews.
12. Disc Golf on the Lake Estes Course
Disc golf at the Lake Estes Course is a great family-friendly activity. Even if you have not played before, this is a great place to learn. This course runs right along Lake Estes and there are great view of the lake and mountains. There is also often an abundance of wildlife at the course and we often see Elk laying around the greens. Disc golf is available daily at 12 p.m. The disc golf fee: $10/person, tee times are recommended. You can reserve a tee time by calling 970-586-8176, or stop by the pro shop at 690 Big Thompson Avenue, just east of the Visitor Center.
13. Sledding in Hidden Valley – a Closed Ski Resort!
Sledding in Hidden Valley in the Rocky Mountain National Park is an exciting spring and winter activity that has been enjoyed by visitors for decades. Located just a few miles from Estes Park, Hidden Valley is a popular destination for families, groups, and individuals who want to experience the thrill of sliding down snowy hills. The picture taken above was in mid-April and there was still plenty of snow. If you check with the rangers, they should be able to tell you if there is still now there in the late spring. The elevation here is around 9200 ft!
The area was once a ski resort (1955 to 1992), but now it is maintained by the National Park Service as a winter recreation area. The old bunny slope is the area for sledding. The hills are accessible by foot or with a short shuttle ride from the parking lot.
The sledding hill is open from 10:00 am to 4 pm, but you will need to bring your own sleds. There are places in Estes Park to rent sleds or you can likely buy some inexpensive plastic ones at one of the hardware stores in town.
14. Do a Jeep Tour!
There are a couple of options for a jeep tour in Estes Park. We see the green jeeps from Green Jeep Tours in Rocky Mountain National Park. We have not done one of these tours but are looking into doing on this spring or summer. The advertise a number of tour options for families from the 3 hour Rocky Mountain Safari to the 6 to 7 hour trip across Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake on the other side of the Rockies. They have vehicles with open back seating which looks like it would be a ton of fun on a nice day. It can get cool (particularly at the higher altitudes) so we suggest you bring sufficient clothing.
Another company that does Jeep tours in Estes Park is Wildside 4×4. They also offer various tours including the top of the world tour where they go to the top of Trail Ride Road (over 12,000 ft.) and also by way of Fall river road when open. We have not tried this company as well but there are on our list of things to do.
15. Creating Memories with your Family!
Although there are plenty of adventures to undertake with your kids in Estes Park, one of the highlights can also be just spending time unwinding and relaxing as a family. If you are looking to create great memories in Estes Park, please consider one of our two very unique vacation rentals. Park Entrance Lodge has 8 bedrooms and all kinds of amenities to keep your kids entertained including: air hockey, corn hole, indoor shuffleboard, a pool table and even an indoor basketball court! There is also a hot tub and fire pit. Lake Estes Retreat is located right on Lake Estes allowing easy access to a ton of water activities including boat and fishing! There is also a hot tub and fire pit.