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Discussion Starter #1
I'm heading to the Estes Park area, July 2020. Haven't been there in 40+ years. Wondering if there is anything I need to make sure to see/do, while in the area? As far as trails go, I'm stock so nothing extreme in my plans.

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Trail Ridge Road is a must. Get up and early and beat the crowd, watch the sunrise on your cruise.
 
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Definitely go thru Rocky Mtn. National Park. Estes Park is just a tourist town anymore. If you feel like doing the tourist thing, you can park somewhere and walk around to check out the stores and find something to eat. You can take a tour of the Stanley Hotel. It's not something I've done so I couldn't tell you if it's worth it.
 

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I will actually be staying in Grand Lake. We have a family reunion in Estes Park. I definitely have RMNP at the top of my list!

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When you go from Estes back over to Grand lake take OLD Trail ridge road (Fall river road). It is one way and also has some great scenery. :)


I did it on my Ural last summer and it was a lot of fun. And nice to see a different view than the paved highway.






 

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If you're staying in Grand Lake, check out the Rapids Lodge. A lodge style hotel with a 4 star restaurant. If you want to spend even more money, check out the Grand Lake Lodge. I prefer the Rapids Lodge restaurant to the Grand Lake lodge restaurant. Both are $$$$.
Less expensive eats is a burger joint/bar across the side street from the park, on the same side of Main Street as the park.
For breakfast there's the Fat Cat Cafe. They've moved to the patio area of a bar on main street at the far end of town.
If you can get tickets there's a repertory theater that's first class. They usually sell out, but maybe you can pick up some no-show tickets.

In Estes Park, check out the Stanley Hotel. Plan on spending an hour unless you go to the bar.
As far as eats in EP, there's a Mexican place on the third floor of a mall style building in about the middle of town. Not bad food and somewhat reasonable. A burger & fries anywhere in Estes park is $15.00. The last time I was there I got a $5.00 burger, but it still cost $15.00.
I haven't eaten in the Wheel Bar in a long time, but when I did it was OK.
Most certainly do Fall River Road on your way back to Grand lake.
Both ways are slow going, especially on weekends. Google Maps or Mapquest directions for distance and travel time.
The only practical way between Grand Lake and Estes Park is through Rocky Mountain National Park. I have a senior pass and can get into the park for free. If you're going through the park several times, it might be cheaper to buy a week pass (if there is such a thing) or a yearly pass. I kinda-sorta think a National Parks Pass is good at all national parks.

As far as trails, check out Trails Off Road. There might be a small charge to access the good stuff, but it's worth it.
Other posters might have more or better suggestions.

Take only pictures, leave only money.

Good Luck, L.M.
 
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Thanks for all that info, Luckymac! I do plan on picking up an annual pass for the NP. I plan to take my daughter to see Mesa Verde, earlier in the week, so I think by the end of the week the cost of the pass might pay for itself.

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I've been to Mesa Verde several times and I've camped there at least twice.
The trip down to the cliff houses is really worthwhile. I did it before I had back surgery and there was one section that was just a little challenging because I had trouble lifting one leg to climb a ladder. I could do it easily now. If you're in good shape it won't be an issue.
If you have the time, take the bus tour. The guides are knowledgeable and they'll give you a lot of background that you might miss otherwise.

The pass is good for a year, so you might be encouraged to see other National Parks that you might not consider. Big Bend is great any time. I haven't been to Guadalupe National park in west Texas so that one is on you to report on. If you're driving, Palo Duro park is just south of Amarillo. It's a state park and not covered with the National Parks pass, but still worthwhile to see. Just north of Amarillo is the Adobe Walls marker. I made the mistake of Googling Adobe Walls and the instructions took me to a sign that said the second battle of Adobe Walls took place such and such a distance east of here.
I wanted to see the actual site where Billy Dixon knocked Stinking Coyote of his horse with a shot from a mile away. It's still on my list of places to see.

Texas is BIG with a lot to see. The National Parks pass may be good for many other sites that the national Parks Service manages. Ask when you buy it.

There's so much to see in the U.S. and so much history, I don't understand why anyone would want to go anywhere else.

Good Luck, L.M.
 

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I've been to Mesa Verde several times and I've camped there at least twice.
The trip down to the cliff houses is really worthwhile. I did it before I had back surgery and there was one section that was just a little challenging because I had trouble lifting one leg to climb a ladder. I could do it easily now. If you're in good shape it won't be an issue.
If you have the time, take the bus tour. The guides are knowledgeable and they'll give you a lot of background that you might miss otherwise.

The pass is good for a year, so you might be encouraged to see other National Parks that you might not consider. Big Bend is great any time. I haven't been to Guadalupe National park in west Texas so that one is on you to report on. If you're driving, Palo Duro park is just south of Amarillo. It's a state park and not covered with the National Parks pass, but still worthwhile to see. Just north of Amarillo is the Adobe Walls marker. I made the mistake of Googling Adobe Walls and the instructions took me to a sign that said the second battle of Adobe Walls took place such and such a distance east of here.
I wanted to see the actual site where Billy Dixon knocked Stinking Coyote of his horse with a shot from a mile away. It's still on my list of places to see.

Texas is BIG with a lot to see. The National Parks pass may be good for many other sites that the national Parks Service manages. Ask when you buy it.

There's so much to see in the U.S. and so much history, I don't understand why anyone would want to go anywhere else.

Good Luck, L.M.
Yeah, I don't have a passport. My reason...too much here I haven't seen yet! I travel with a pooch. Big Bend doesn't allow dogs many places. Also, the distance/time from home to Big Bend is about the same to Colorado. I may change my mind some day, but for now, I head north when I have the time to go that far.
I have the State Parks pass. Palo Duro is on my list, but will likely do it in the next couple of months.
Thanks again for all of your input!

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