Estes Park is a year-round family destination with much to offer for an outdoor adventure. From the scenic hikes and drives, to rock climbing, to Lake Estes, this is home to countless immersive attractions that everyone in your family will love.
Besides the outdoor activities, the town also has some indoor activities that will make great family memories, including visiting a museum or posing for portraits while dressed in vintage wear.
In this guide, I will list free kids’ activities that will keep your little ones entertained during your stay in Estes Park.
1. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
There are over 355 hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, ranging from steep mountain peak climbs to flat lakeside strolls. While entrance to the park is not free, if you have a national parks pass, it will more than pay for itself.
Most of these trails are kid-friendly, so you won’t have to worry about your young ones running out of steam halfway down the trail. Some trails you should try out with your kids include Dream lake, Tundra Community Trail, and the Alpine Ride Trail.
All these trails offer scenic views, and your kids will have a personal experience with nature as they stroll along the forested or grassy trails.
The best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park for hiking is between June and September because the weather is warm then, and you don’t risk snow run-off (spring) or blizzards (fall).
2. Estes Park Winter Activities
There are several winter activities that you can participate in with your kids at Estes Park. The most famous is the ranger-led winter snowshoe ecology walk on the eastern side of Estes Park.
Your kids don’t require any previous experience in snowshoes, but they have to be eight years old and above. You will not be charged any participatory fee, but you must have a pair of snowshoes since they are not provided.
Another free winter activity at Estes Park is sledding and tubing the Hidden Valley slopes. The slopes are contoured, making them perfect for tubing and other snow play activities. You will not be charged for the facilities at Hidden Valley; therefore, this is an ideal activity if you work with a tight budget.
If your kids love camping, you can try winter camping in the park’s backcountry. All you need to do is self-register and give your teenager a chance to learn basic winter activities, nutrition, hydration tips, and winter safety techniques. They will also be taught how to dress properly for winter activities.
3. Estes Park Elk in Town Festival
This is a celebration for Estes Park residents, and it’s family-friendly; therefore, your kids will love it. The festival features many live performances and food vendors and mostly coincides with the elk mating season.
During the festivities, you will often see the wild elk near Rocky Mountian National Park or wandering through town. Nevertheless, you will be required to keep a distance because the elk are wild animals, and the bulls can defend their females aggressively.
4. Lake Estes Marina
Spending some time at Lake Estes is one thing you should not miss out on in Estes Park. You will love the beautiful views of the lake as the sun sets, reflecting its evening rays on the lake. Remember to bring your paddleboard or inflatable kayak and enjoy the water activities at the lake.
You can also carry your kid’s bikes and allow them to ride on the lake shores, and they might be lucky to spot some wild animals as they enjoy the afternoon rides.
5. Climb Via Ferrata
Estes Park is known for its Via Ferrata route. This path was developed during World War I to help soldiers who didn’t have the climbing experience to safely navigate steep terrain.
The climbing routes include steel secured to the cliff side, and your kids will enjoy climbing through them and have a historical experience. They will also have a different and incredible view of the surrounding landscape.
6. Alluvial Fan
This is a beautiful trail sandwiched in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s the perfect place for your little ones to visit. The trail features a river and an eye-catching waterfall that cascades down among huge boulders.
Your kids will enjoy hiking, nature trips, walking, bird catching, and climbing on rocks found along the trail.
No better way to cool yourself after a busy day hiking than dipping your toes in the raucous waters of the Alluvial Fan. Remember to carry a camera and keep the beautiful memories of this wonderful place in Estes Park.
7. Fishing At The Trout Fishing Pond
Take your family to this beautiful fishing pond in a tranquil setting and allow your kids to enjoy some fishing moments. The management provides all the necessary gear and will clean and ice your catch.
The fishing itself is free, but you are required to pay for each fish you catch, depending on the inches. No better way to introduce your kids or grandkids to fishing than taking them to the Trout fishing pond.
8. Scandinavian Midsummer Festival
Plan to attend the Scandinavian festival and inspire your kids with the rich heritage of Scandinavian culture. This event for the whole family brings together over 80 artists and organizations.
Among the activities that your little ones can participate in during the event are flower crown making, community dancing, and the sausage eating competition.
This festival has been in existence for over 25 years, and your kids will be glad to be part of it.
9. Rails In The Rockies
Your visit to Estes Park would not be complete without tasting the Rails in the Rockie’s thrilling fun.
It usually takes place on the last weekend of September, and your kids will love the experience of traveling on trains and participating in model railroading’s arts and crafts.
Other kid-friendly activities include the seek and search game, train running, and the LEGOlayout: an activity for kids of all ages.
You will not have to pay anything if your kids are below 12 years.
10. Catch The Glow Christmas Parade
Catch the Glow is an annual event that takes place the day after Thanksgiving, and kids will be over the moon as the magic unfolds with the brightening of Estes Park.
The event features a band that comes down the streets singing favorite Christmas songs with tiny white twinkly beams of light generously reflecting in the brass.
The parade features over 40 units, including marching bands, crafted floats, and fire trucks. This is an event that your kids will live to remember even when they grow up.
11. Estes Park Picnicking
Take a break from the busy week at school and in the office and enjoy some picnicking moments at Estes Park. Lake Estes would serve as a perfect spot for this idea, thanks to its quietness and ambiance.
You can be sure to have a great Saturday afternoon while enjoying your homemade sandwiches and fresh juice. The kids can also swing and slide in the play area as the breeze caresses them.
12. The Rocky Mountain Conservancy
If you want your kids to have some wildlife education, visit the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. All the classes for kids aged 4 and 6 are free, but you must register in advance.
Summer is a busy month for the conservancy, so you need to plan ahead for your little ones.
Some of the activities covered at the conservancy include art classes in the park, map reading and exploration, and around the fire ghost stories, among others.
13. MacGregor Ranch Museum
Let your kids run, jump and get their hands dirty at the MacGregor Ranch Museum. School-age kids can participate in exciting programs such as wagon rides, touring the Nature center, camping, and hiking.
Also, the management allows kids to help the ranch by weeding or taking care of the flowers in the garden. The museum doesn’t charge kids below 18 years; your kids will have an experience to remember here.
14. Estes Park Mountain Biking
One of the things you will notice in Estes Park during good weather is plenty of bicycles. In fact, the town has quite a riding culture.
Plan to let your kids take part in this amazing outdoor activity and let them enjoy a ride on the safe and friendly paved roads.
The riders are permitted to ride on all park roads during the summer and winter seasons. Each moment spent on these roads will leave your kids energized and delighted.
Your visit to Estes Park is worth every effort. This place boasts many attractions and activities, and your family will build bonds to last a lifetime. Hopefully, this list of free activities will guide you on how to plan your visit to Estes Park and make lasting memories for your little ones.