What to Pack for a Trip to Estes Park

What to Pack for a Trip to Estes Park

Wondering what to pack for a trip to Estes Park, Colorado?

Part of that answer, obviously, will depend on when you’re coming and what you’re planning to do while you’re here.  You might want to check out our Estes Park Weather page for a bit of help in gauging the weather for what to pack.

In general though, here is what to pack–and what not to pack–for a trip to Estes Park, Colorado.

1. Warm clothes, no matter the season.
Evening temperatures in the summer can dip into the 40s, and the weather on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park can be winter-like all year round. At the very least, what to pack should include long pants, a fleece jacket, hat, and gloves.

2. Rain jacket, but leave the umbrella.
In the spring, summer, and fall, it’s always a good idea to carry a lightweight, waterproof, or water-resistant jacket of some kind. If it’s windproof, that’s even better.

It is not a good idea to include an umbrella in what to pack because we get so much lightning in the summer.

3. Layers.
The weather here changes rapidly, so layers are the way to go. Summertime attire usually consists of long pants (possibly shorts) and a short sleeve shirt with a long sleeve top, a fleece jacket, a hat, and a rain jacket within easy reach. Winter attire might consist of long underwear and long pants, a long sleeve top, a fleece jacket, and a hat and coat. Fall and Spring are somewhere in between.

4. No fancy clothes required.
Unless you’re going to be attending a wedding, there is no need to pack fancy clothes.

All of the restaurants in town–even the “fancy” ones–are accustomed to having people show up in jeans. This is Colorado! This is the West! We just don’t bother to get all fancy most the time.

5. Comfy shoes.
Most things to do in Estes Park involve walking or being outdoors. There’s pretty much no reason to make yourself miserable by wearing three inch spike heels, unless you want people to stare at you. Good ol’ tennies or trail shoes are the way to go.

6. Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen.
It’s really sunny here. And bright. And we get a lot of UV radiation because we’re closer to the sun. Yes, you can get sunburned in the mountains, even when there’s snow on the ground and cloudy skies, so pack things to protect yourself from the sun.

7. Your good camera.
There are just bazillions of photo opportunities in Estes Park; don’t let them pass you by.

A telephoto lens is a good idea if you want to photograph wildlife. Most point and shoot cameras will do a decent job of capturing elk, but might fail you with some of the rarer wildlife (because these tend to stay further away from people).

8. A backpack or fanny pack.
You’ll probably end up doing a lot of walking, and it’s always a good idea to have a comfy way to carry your things. Over-the-shoulder bags are fine for a while, but they can get pretty uncomfortable pretty quick.

9. A water bottle.
It takes approximately 2.1 seconds to get dehydrated in Estes Park. It’s very dry here, and the potential for altitude sickness makes it all the more crucial that you drink water constantly while you’re here.

10. Patience and flexibility.
There can be a lot of people here in the summer, and traffic and crowds can get the best of anyone. It makes me sad to see how many people on “vacation” are grumpy! Add a little flexibility into your schedule, don’t expect to get everywhere instantaneously, and you’ll have a much better time.

Now you’ve got what to pack “in the bag”!

2 thoughts on “What to Pack for a Trip to Estes Park”

    • It rarely rains hard in Estes… usually a poncho or rain coat is plenty of protection. Umbrellas are not a common sight.


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