Estes Park is just seconds from one of the US's most popular national parks. The town itself is a hotchpotch of T-shirt shops and ice-cream parlors, sidewalks jammed with tourists and streets plugged with RVs. But when the sun reflects just right off Lake Estes, or you spend an afternoon with a lazy coffee on the riverwalk, you might just find a little piece of zen.
Those expecting immediate views of the pristine beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park may be disappointed to find themselves watching brake lights on E Elkhorn Ave, the town’s artery to both park entrances. But it’s not all bad. Although the strip malls and low-rise motels can be unsightly, Estes Park promises every convenience to the traveler, and during the off-season the place has a certain charm, as the streets quieten down, elk wander through town, and the prices of creekside cabins drop.