Best things to do in Estes Park with kids

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Estes Park, Colorado with kids you are in the right place. All of these kid-friendly hikes and activities near Estes Park will not require a reservation to Rocky Mountain National Park, but some may even get you into the park.

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Best things to do near Estes Park with kids

We’ll start with a few great hikes near Estes Park that don’t require park access.

Lily Lake(.8 miles, easy)

This is flat, accessible for strollers/wheelchairs; and a maintained loop around the lake that is very scenic. This lake is just off State Hwy 7 on the west side and doesn’t require park entrance to access this hike. Kids will be entertained by the dozens of muskrats and other wildlife near the lake.

The views from Lily Lake at sunset

East Portal to Sprague Lake Hike 

(5.6 miles with the option to add Sprague Lake (1.5mi), moderate difficulty and 856 elevation gain) This one is for older kids or good hikers and will technically put you in Rocky Mountain National Park without requiring a reservation. The river rushes along the trail and the hike also includes smaller waterfalls along the way. More details and a map can be found here.

Riverwalk in Downtown Estes Park

This is a great riverwalk that starts at the Estes Park visitor center and follows the Big Thompson/Fall River as it winds through downtown Estes Park. Cross bridges along the way and catch a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and coffee shops along the way. You also can take the riverwalk to Lake Estes and explore around the lake. Click here for more info.

Estes Park Aerial Tram

If your kids are tired of hiking this is a great activity to get an aerial view of the park without a lot of effort. Operates daily from the end of May to early September but check the website for current pricing and details. This tram is one of the few European-style cable cars operating in the US.

Estes Park Aerial Tram a great activity to do with kids

Jackson Stables Horseback riding

This stable is outside the park but they are authorized to do rides into Rocky Mountain National Park. This is where we took our three kids horseback riding and had a great time. We found them to be very family-friendly and it was a nice beginners ride. They are located at the Estes Park Center, YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. This is a great way to be able to see Rocky Mountain National Park if you don’t have a park reservation. For more information click here.

Kids horseback riding in Rocky Mountain National Park

Mustang Mountain Coaster 

Estes Park, CO Enjoy this scenic mountain coaster ride as a great way to mix it up from hiking in Rocky Mountain with kids. It often runs March through October, but check here for schedule and current rates.

Day trip to Boulder

Boulder is less than an hour from Estes Park and makes for a great day trip. We love the Fiske Planetarium, exploring the historic downtown and pedestrian Pearl Street Mall. If you’re looking for a hiking spot outside of Rocky Mountain, Eldorado Canyon State Park or Boulder Mountain Park are great options.

Open Air Adventure Park Estes Park, CO

Aerial ropes course with challenges and ziplines as well as ax throwing. School age kids and teens will love this adventure. More information here.

Grand Adventure Hot Air Balloon Rides

This is a unique way to view the Rocky Mountains from high above in a hot air balloon. They are located 30 minutes from Grand Lake, the West entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and 2 hours from Estes Park, Colorado. If coming from Estes Park you will want to confirm Trail Ridge Road is open before booking or your drive could be longer. Learn more here.

Professional Tours near Estes Park

If you’re looking for a professionally guided tour of the area, as well as inside Rocky Mountain National Park check out these Viator Tours. For most tours, if you book with them, park reservations are already included with your tour.


Lastly, If you’re looking for other Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning information see our full guide here. Estes Park has so much to offer for a family vacation trip with kids. Have you ever visited Estes Park with kids? Let us know your favorite stops and best tips, in the comments below or on our Facebook or Instagram pages. We’d love to share in your travels!

Best Things to do in Estes Park, CO with kids
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7 Comments

  1. […] you don’t score a park reservation we also cover things to do in Estes Park with kids that are outside Rocky Mountain National Park and don’t require an entry […]

  2. i have been wanting to visit estes park for some time now! i hope to get there before the end of the year, especially to do a adventure park & some of the hikes. thanks for all the great tips for visiting.

  3. These pictures are beautiful! Would love to go to Colorado sometime soon and check these places out!

  4. Estes Park is such a beautiful place! I went there a couple years ago and wish I could’ve spent more time there—hoping to go back someday!

  5. These all look and sound like the best things to do in Estes Park with kids. So beautiful…would love to visit!

  6. Ahhh, another cool thing to do in Colorado! I’ve been trying to get to CO for years, but still haven’t made it. Hopefully I can get here when I do – I love a good Riverwalk, especially.

  7. I absolutely LOVE Boulder, though have mainly been there for work. These hikes look great though, thanks for the inspiration!

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