Getting around Estes Park can be a crazy proposition in the summer, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be navigating the town like a pro.
Free Shuttle Bus
Getting around Estes Park has become a lot easier since the town teamed up with Rocky Mountain National Park to provide an integrated shuttle system.
Even if you have a car at your disposal, it is a good idea to use the shuttle. It’s better for the environment, and you don’t have to worry about parking! A double bonus!
The shuttles run from most of the hotels in town to downtown, and from downtown to Rocky Mountain National Park. Note: the connection to RMNP will not run in summer 2021.
Read more about the Estes Park free shuttle here.
If you are traveling between Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, the shuttle is a good idea for those who want to hike in the Bear Lake or Moraine Park areas. Otherwise, bring your car.
If you are staying within walking distance of downtown, where most of the shopping and restaurants are located, leaving the car at your hotel and walking or taking the shuttle is your best bet for getting around Estes Park. Downtown is best navigated by walking. It takes all of ten minutes to walk from one end of downtown to the other. Because it is relatively flat, the walk is easily managed by most people.
Be sure to walk along the river walk, which sits between the river and the shops on the main street.
If you insist on driving, good luck, God bless, and here’s an Estes Park parking map. Parking can be nonexistent in summer and is time limited in some lots. AND NOW YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR SOME OF IT! (This really, really, REALLY makes us angry, since parking used to be free everywhere in town and there’s no reason not to keep it that way.)
If you want to park downtown, get there early, or try going in the late afternoon. It’s best to avoid driving through downtown during the middle of the day (roughly 10 AM – 3 PM) when it is most crowded.
If you’re planning to drive into Rocky Mountain National Park (and why wouldn’t you?), then check out our tips on mountain driving.
There is a local taxi service available: Estes Park Safe Rides, (970) 682-9985.
Or you can charter group transportation with the local shuttle bus company (see the Getting to Estes Park page).
There is also a service called “Via Transportation” available for those with limited mobility. It is primarily intended for residents of Estes Park.
Bicycling is another option. There are some bike trails in town, but for the purpose of getting around Estes Park, most biking will be on regular city streets. With tourists. Who don’t know where they’re going. With that in mind, make sure to dress as though you just pedaled through an explosion in a highlighter factory.
Unless you are in very good shape and can go up hills at high altitude easily, bicycling is not recommended for getting around Rocky Mountain National Park.