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Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

Irving, Texas
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Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

Flying into Denver late Friday (8pm) and need recommendations of where to stay. Our goal is to stay overnight and take the Peak to Peak Byway to Estes Park. Not sure if we should drive to Estes Park directly first and stay there 1.5 days and drive down through peak to peak and stay in another town closer to airport before we depart Monday 2pm. Here a town called Golden is nice. Any advise in planning is appreciated and what lodging is recommended. This is our 18 year anniversary and the kids are staying back with grandparents!!!! want to make it memorable.

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Denver
Denver
Colorado
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
StoneBrook Resort
StoneBrook Resort
#1 of 28 hotels in Estes Park
The Maxwell Inn
The Maxwell Inn
#4 of 28 hotels in Estes Park
Murphy's Resort at Estes Park
Murphy's Resort at Estes Park
#5 of 28 hotels in Estes Park
12 replies to this topic
Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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1. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

September 30 in Estes Park and RMNP will definitely be memorable - for the crowds! September 30 is a free entrance day to RMNP. Because of fall color and elk rut, this date has historically been the highest attendance day of the entire year in RMNP. I have been in RMNP several times during that highest visitation day and weekend and the crowds were staggering! RMNP officials report that visitation for that date and weekend in September is often 50% higher than even July 4 when it can be combined with a weekend. Elk Fest in Estes Park is also September 30 and October 1. All the preferred lodging places in Estes Park have probably long since been booked for that weekend so you can forget about spending the night in Estes Park.

If visiting RMNP is a must during your trip, look at lodging in Boulder. Take a day trip to RMNP on October 1 (NOT September 30) entering the park by way of the west side - Grand Lake Entrance and drive and explore Trail Ridge Road and the Peak to Peak on your way back to Boulder. Either that or you will need to get up early to leave Boulder and make this same loop beginning from the Estes Park side in order to somewhat limit the crowds.

Here is this loop from Boulder.

https://goo.gl/maps/EqevAiqwto52

The St. Julien is often suggested for special occasions in Boulder.

You could also stay in Golden.

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Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Boulder
Boulder
Colorado
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
3,016 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
The Estes Park Resort
The Estes Park Resort
505 Reviews
Estes Park, CO
St Julien Hotel and Spa
St Julien Hotel and Spa
1,071 Reviews
Boulder, CO
Windsor, Colorado
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2. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

You might want to consider skipping RMNP and going to the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

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The Broadmoor
The Broadmoor
1,489 Reviews
Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs
El Paso County, CO
Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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3. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

Regarding Trail Ridge Road and the loop - I am assuming Trail Ridge Road will be completely open. Once you get into later September and early October, Trail Ridge Road can be temporarily closed for several hours, a day or even several days as a through road between Grand Lake and Estes Park due to snow at higher elevations. It just so happened that Trail Ridge Road was closed on the September RMNP free entrance day last year. Trail Ridge Road 24 hour status line - 970-586-1222.

Edited: 13 September 2017, 23:25
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Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
3,016 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Estes Park
Estes Park
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Downingtown...
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4. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

Just back from Estes--we live in PA. It is 90 minutes from the rental car kiosk to Estes, and well worth it to stay there...friendly, true tourist town, right at entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Stay at the Silver Moon Inn. Right at end of downtown, on the river, outstanding staff, very romantic--even real fireplaces (which the staff will light for you) in the rooms. You can walk everywhere, and there are lovely restaurants, a winery (sit outside in the back) breweries, very pretty shops, and one of our nation's treasures, RM National Park. The incredibly scenic drive through the park to Grand Lake (highest roadway in the continental US) is wonderful, with multiple wildlife viewings, and a stop at the "Alpine" national park lodge is fun. Enjoy a fabulous trip...you will quickly find you need more time!

By the way--Golden is sweet, but small, tiny downtown, and mostly brewery focused.

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Hotel Estes
Hotel Estes
420 Reviews
Estes Park, CO
Silver Moon Inn
Silver Moon Inn
897 Reviews
Estes Park, CO
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Windsor, Colorado
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5. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

Timing makes a dramatic difference with a visit to Estes Park and RMNP and unfortunately, jgarcia4's timing will mean they will NOT have the same experience that BRLennox did. Like most other popular places to stay in Estes Park, Silver Moon Inn is already booked for the weekend jgarcia4 is planning to visit. I checked several of the places people like to stay in Estes Park for special occasions - Della Terra, Taharaa Mountain Lodge, Stonebrook, Riversong, Aspen Winds, River Stone/Bear Paw, Fall River Cabins - all already booked.

Taking the 90 minute route from DIA rental car to Estes Park is the least scenic option and usually means you also used the E-470 toll road. We get irate complaints about the cost of the tolls and the additional surcharges rental car agencies assess daily if you use the toll road even once so we suggest that people avoid the E-470 toll road.

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Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Silver Moon Inn
Silver Moon Inn
897 Reviews
Estes Park, CO
Taharaa Mountain Lodge
Taharaa Mountain Lodge
257 Reviews
Estes Park, CO
StoneBrook Resort
StoneBrook Resort
664 Reviews
Estes Park, CO
Aspen
Aspen
Colorado
Irving, Texas
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6. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

I was fortunate enough to change our travel dates to Friday, September 22- Monday, September 25. Thank you all for the feedback, I hope to miss the massive crowds, but understand it is a destination. So should we just stay at Estes Park (Friday and Saturday) and drive down to another town for Saturday night stay- which town is recommended? we love to explore small towns. we leave Monday, 4pm.

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Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Windsor, Colorado
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7. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

Have you tried looking at your options for reservations in Estes Park during that weekend? Peak fall color and the peak of elk rut will be going on during that weekend as well. The crowds will only be slightly less (if at all) than they will be September 30/October 1. Peak attendance days in RMNP during 2015 and 2016 were September 26 and September 24.

"we love to explore small towns" - While Estes Park itself is a lovely small town, the town is inundated with tourists on September weekends during fall color and elk rut. During the month of September last year, over 711,000 people visited RMNP. Most of those people visited over the weekends. Rangers will tell you that crowds in RMNP are 50% greater on September weekends than during the week. Rangers will also tell you that 80% of RMNP visitors enter the park from the east side which is the Estes Park side.

If you don't want to stay in Boulder at the St. Julien as I suggested in my reply #1, then look at Devil's Thumb Ranch which is closer to the west side of RMNP. You could make a daytrip over to the east side one day. Wild Horse Inn in Fraser near Winter Park would be a lovely anniversary option.

http://www.devilsthumbranch.com/

http://www.wildhorseinn.com/

You can also look and see what lodging is available in the town of Grand Lake on the western side of RMNP during your visit. Grand Lake will be busy but not like Estes Park will be.

http://grandlakechamber.com/lodging/

Check reviews here on TA. Note that under "hotel" reviews, there are different categories for Hotels, B&B's and Specialty Lodging (usually includes cabins and condos) plus vacation rentals.

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Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
The Estes Park Resort
The Estes Park Resort
505 Reviews
Estes Park, CO
Boulder
Boulder
Colorado
St Julien Hotel and Spa
St Julien Hotel and Spa
1,071 Reviews
Boulder, CO
Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa
Devil's Thumb Ranch...
693 Reviews
Tabernash, CO
Wild Horse Inn
Wild Horse Inn
213 Reviews
Fraser, CO
Fraser
Fraser
Grand County, CO
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Windsor, Colorado
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8. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

"I hope to miss the massive crowds"

To visit some small towns and miss the massive crowds, you might want to look at the Buena Vista/Salida area including Mount Princeton Hot Springs. The Rocky Mountains are not limited to Rocky Mountain National Park.

http://www.colorfulcolorado.com/

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Salida
Salida
Colorado
Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort
Mount Princeton Hot...
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Nathrop, CO
Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
370 Reviews
Colorado
Windsor, Colorado
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9. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

CU Boulder has a home football game on September 23 so Boulder will not work for that weekend. The game on the 30th is not a home game. I had checked before I suggested Boulder for the 30th.

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Boulder
Boulder
Colorado
Memphis, Tennessee
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10. Re: Trip Planning: Traveling 9/29-10-2

I just returned from Estes Park, & I was happy to be there during "early-leaf-peeping," while there were no crowds or traffic to speak of. To me, the beauty is in the myraid of contrasting colors. The gold & orange pockets were spectacular, especially where snow & ice cones in the crevasses could be seen nearby.

It appears that the Ridgeline Hotel in Estes Park has availability on the last 2 weekends of September. It is undergoing a major renovation, but nothing that affected my stay.

I Reviewed it & its Restaurant, Latitude 105, Downtown EP, the Riverwalk ~ am in the process of posting RMNP, Trail Ridge Road, Alpine & Beaver Meadows Visitors Centers.

•••••••••••••

I was about to enter the Post below when I saw that you had definitely decided on Estes Park / RMNP.

So I will Post it anyway in case it is of help to others making their plans now::

If crowds & traffic are spoilers for you, I would consider a more relaxing September weekend in Colorado Springs, as suggested in Post #2. I believe the Broadmoor is booked, but you could stay in a nearby hotel. Visiting the Broadmoor & Golden Bee are a must, & there are amazing outdoor attractions to enjoy in the area.

Then reserve lodging in Estes Park for mid-September 2018 with an extra day. Avoiding weekends would be ideal, but I understand that vacation days are limited.

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Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
The Ridgeline Hotel Estes Park
The Ridgeline Hotel...
147 Reviews
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3,016 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
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