When I planned our family trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the first questions I has was what are the things to do in Estes Park with kids, because our first two nights were at Estes Park campground at Mary Lake.
To my surprise, we didn’t run out of things to do in Estes Park with my toddler. Rather, we didn’t have enough time to cover it all. In hindsight, I would add more days to staying at Estes Park in my next trip.
Things to Do in Estes Park, CO with Kids
If you are also wondering what is there to do in Estes Park for kids, options range from indoor amusement park to outdoor hiking or playing in the river in a meadow. Options abound, below are our favorite activities.
Fun City Estes Park
Which kid doesn’t like an amusement park and some rides that keep them excited. If you really have time or promised your kids that you will take them to amusement park rides, even though you are really here to check out the Rocky Mountain National Park and be in one with the nature, it’s worth a half a day at the Fun City Estes Park.
Located in the heart of Estes Park downtown area, Fun city activities are all mostly outdoor overlooking the mountains, and next to the winding rivers that run through the downtown.
Things to do at Fun City Estes Park:
- Bungee Trampoline
- Water Walking Ball
- Giant slides
- Go karting
- Bumper boats
- Mini Golf
- Bumper cars
On a nice summer day, it’s super fun for the kids to get their adrenaline flushed out as the parents enjoy the weather.
Horseback Riding in Estes Park
One of the top notch activities to do in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park for kids and adults alike is the horseback riding. Riding above 8000ft of elevation, Estes Park has a few outfitters where you can rent a horse for a day or take one of their guided tours.
Most of the outfitters, take kids older than 6 years old or kids that are taller and bigger. Given the nature of the sports, I wouldn’t recommend taking small children either. Plus, none of the outfitter I called up would allow tandem rides with the child and parent.
If your child is younger than 6, check out SK Horses, they do allow kids as young as 4.
MacGregor Ranch Museum
A great fun activity to do for kids at Estes Park as they take a tour of the Barn at MacGregor Ranch Museum. The Museum entrance fee is free for kids under 18. However, the accompanying adult has to pay a nominal fee of $7 at the time we visited.
The MacGregor Ranch Museum offers tons of interesting programs for School groups such as hiking, camping, wagon rides and tours of the Nature Center.
For day visitors its mostly the tour of the ranch and running around in the open ranch for the kids. This is a living museum so kids are welcome to help out in the ranch work such as weeding out in the garden.
This place is a perfect one for school field trips.
Open Air Adventure Park Estes Park
This is one of the best things to do in Estes Park with kids. They will strap you to a harness for safety and you are on the go to walk on the ropes, jump from one platform to another, swing from one to another and climb higher or lower as you please.
This activity is so much more fun than it actually sounds like. Especially, imagine the sense of accomplishment your kids will have. They will not stop talking about that really challenging jump they did and how they almost fell but caught themselves. Such an entertaining activity for sure.
Estes Park Aerial Tramway
Operating from May to September 9AM to 6PM, Estes Park Aerial Tramway is totally worth it. It’s not just for kids, even for adults a mind blowing thing to do in Estes Park as you get an aerial view of the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Estes Park area.
For taking some of the stunning photographs, they recommend riding either early in the morning or late in the evening.
Located at 420 East Riverside Drive, Estes Park, Colorado 80517, the ride is well worth spending $14 as an adult. What more ? Children under five are free to ride.
Hedge Maze at Stanley Hotel Estes Park
You want your kids to burn some energy and get them tired so they can go to sleep early ? I do. The Stanley Hotel at Estes Park has the perfect activity for that. Their front yard has a hedge maze where the kids can get totally lost and run around in an effort to get out.
I want to go back to be a kid again…
Este s Park Museum
A free museum that has a lot of exhibits to showcase the history of Estes Park and educates the visitors on the connection between Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
They also has an elaborate display of the wild life in Rockies.
It was a quick in and out visit for us. But, still learned a lot about the history and wild life of the area.
Trout Haven Fishing Pond
Introduce your kids to fishing early by spending a few hours at the Trout haven fishing pond. Basically they introduce rainbow trout into the pond that are super easy to catch with the kids. Since it’s a kids activity, there is no fishing license required. They will provide all the equipment.
If you want to take the fish home with you, you pay for the fish you catch.
The Rocky Mountain Conservancy
Hands down, one of the best educational programs in the Rocky Mountains for kids and adults. The Rocky Mountain Conservancy offers some of the coolest programs I have seen for the kids:
- Ghost stories around campfire
- Kids art classes in the park
- What’s hiding underwater ?
- Map and Compass exploration that teaches kids how to read maps while exploring the park
- Wildlife Education
- Who pooped in the woods ?
Don’t these titles sound fun ? All classes are free for children between the age of 4-6. However, you still have to register ahead of time. Some of these classes do get filled up especially during summer weekends. So, plan ahead.
Geocaching at Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park
Step 1: Download the Geocaching App
Step 2: Download this printable map of the geocaching location names in each area.
Step 3: Play Across the divide GeoTour and go find the caches. If you find 10 caches you get to earn a free souvenir coin from the Estes Park or Grand Lake visitor center.
There are 49 geocaching locations in the park covering the region that will let you explore the park in a unique and fun way. It’s not just for the kids, it’s also for adults to explore the trails and hikes otherwise you would miss out on.
The highest elevation you will go on this geocache hunting is 12000 ft.
Zipline across in Estes Park
YMCA offers Zipline in Estes Park. However, as of 2019 it’s closed. However, if you are interested in ziplining through the nature with a stunning view of Rocky Mountains, check out the tour below for a great tour that’s just right outside Denver. They do take kids as little as 5 years old and parents can tandem ride with them.
Family Friendly Whitewater Rafting
With so much water bodies gushing through Estes Park and Rocky Mountains, it’s a shame not to get wet in the water in whatever way possible. A great family friendly way to experience the river system in Estes park is to take a wild adventure of white water rafting through the river.
Rent Paddle Boat or Kayak
Rent a paddle boat at Lake Estes with spectacular views of Longs Peak and Lake Estes or Grand Lake on the west side of the park on a gorgeous summer day to paddle through the enormous lakes with your kids. Take plenty of water, sunscreen, hat and shades.
Rent a kayak at Fall River or Big Thompson in Estes Park to kayak the popular Poudre River just outside of Fort Collins.
Go Off Roading / ATV Rental
Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest are one of the best areas for off roading with kids as little as 2 years old. The parks offer challenging to easy rides and trails suitable for anyone’s needs.
Checkout Estes Park ATV Rental for more details.
Swimming in Estes Park
On a hot summer day, taking the kids for swimming is a great way to keep them cool and avoiding overheating.
Here are some of the options:
- May be your hotel has a swimming pool
- YMCA Estes Park swimming pool
- Estes Park Campground at Mary Lake has pool for the guests
Scavenger hunt in Estes Park
Claim your Pika finder at the Estes Park visitor center after going on a scavenger hunt through downtown Estes Park looking for the bronze Pika statues that are spread out through the town.
The clues map can be picked up at the visitor center or download it here.
Junior Ranger Program
Becoming a Junior ranger is probably one of the best moments of achievement for kids and a fun way to get them to enjoy the nature, so they don’t complain about being bored at the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park has a ranger led Junior ranger program for kids over 5 years in the summer where they walk the kids through the wild life and help them complete the Junior ranger booklet to get the certification.
You can download the booklet to the Junior ranger program here.
Stamp your passport
This is my son’s first national park and I decided to get him the National Park passport at the visitor center and get it stamped at each visitor center. One day when he grows up, he will know that we took him to all these national parks as a kid. What a great gift that you can give to your kid as they grow up.
We got 5 cancellation stamps at Rocky Mountain National Park.
You can also buy the National Park Passport ahead of time online.
Ranger Led Programs
Rocky Mountain National Park has great ranger led programs that are suitable for kids. One of my favorite is their night programs.
Rocky Mountain and Estes Park areas are one of the best to get your kids excited about night skies and astronomy as the milky way show is spectacular on a clear sky night.
Check out the Ranger led program schedule for the days you visit and plan ahead.
Easy Family Friendly Hikes
Well, there are over 300 hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park alone. Of course not all of them are kids friendly. I will list out some of my favorite trails here. But, there are trails beyond what I have listed in the area.
Estes Park Hikes and Walks:
Downtown River Walk: Constructed in the years following the Lawn Lake Flood, the Estes Park Riverwalk spans the downtown area from the Estes Park Visitor Center to Performance Park
Lake Estes Loop Trail: Get a 365 degree view of the estes valley surrounded by moutain ranges as you walk along this stroller friendly trail around the lake.
Knoll Ruin Hike: Check out the ruins from a stone cabin built in 1907 as you lookout to downtown. Park your car at Wonderview Avenue, opposite to Stanley hotel.
Rocky Mountain National Park Hikes for small Kids
- Bear Lake loop 0.6 miles round trip, 20ft elevation gain
- Sprague Lake 0.5 mile one way trail with 10ft elevation gain
- Copeland Falls 0.6 mile one way 15ft elevation gain
- Moraine Park Discovery center nature trail, 0.8 mile loop with 20ft elevation
- Lily lake 0.9 mile one way with no elevation gain, stroller friendly
Trail Ridge Road Scenic Drive
Drive through the 50 mile trail ridge road scenic drive with your kids and stop along the way for view points and wild life viewing as you please.
It’s a 2 hour non-stop trip but we took almost the entire afternoon as we stopped along for pictures and stopped at the Alpine visitor center cafe for drinks and snacks. The cafe closes early at 6PM. So plan accordingly.
Picnicking at Estes Park
Packing lunch and snacks to go on a picnic with your kids is another great way to spend an afternoon at Estes Park. Lake Estes is a great spot for this activity. Lake Estes also has kids play area with swings and slides.
There is an entrance fee for the cars at $5 for the whole day. It’s totally worth it.
Ice cream and Taffy in Estes Park
I have to admit, my kid doesn’t like sweets. But he is probably an exception. Until I had him, I never knew a kid who didn’t like sweets.
So if you have a sweet tooth in your family, treat them with some of the best ice cream flavors as you walk along downtown or taffy maker that lures kids into the store.
Rock climbing at YMCA Estes Park
If you want to introduce your kids to rock climbing, YMCA in Estes Park has the perfect indoor rock climbing wall.
You can rent climbing shoes and harnesses with an intro lesson to the equipment and beginner lessons on techniques, this 25-ft tall wall is all that’s needed to get the adventurer in your kid going.
Camping with kids
And the best part of going to National Parks for us has been the camping experience. We almost always camp and Estes Park was not an exception. We camped at Estes Park campground at Mary Lake for 2 nights and it was an absolutely pleasant stay as my little guy explored the grass, trees, occasional wild visitors like deers and elks.
If you happen to visit the park in the winter, the entire Estes Park and Rocky Mountain area turn into a winter sport haven. Pack a sled or rent one at one of the local outfitters for a day of fun in the snow as they sled through the slopes.
Winter Festival in Estes Park
In the deep January winter, Estes Park CO celebrates the snow with a great Winter Festival with fun filled activities for the entire family.
- Indoor ice skating rink for kids and adults
- Live music by local artists
- Free food
- Winter gear try outs
- And kids activities
I am sure feeding your kids is one of the tops things on your mind as you are navigating the fun things to do. Check out my recommendations for Estes Park Restaurants.
Pin for later!
If you want to take a little break while your kids are at one of the vacation day cares, here are some of the best romantic things to do in Estes Park.