Transportation in Estes Park
Getting to Rocky Mountain National Park via Estes Park
Estes Park Colorado is the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park and lies approximately 65 miles northwest of Denver. Travelers can choose between several routes depending on what they are hoping to experience.
The quickest route is to take Interstate 25 north from Denver to U.S. Highway 36 to Boulder. Stay on Highway 36 through Boulder and Lyons to Estes Park. This route will take about 1 ½ hours.
The historic route to Rocky Mountain National Park will also take you north from Denver on Interstate 25 to U.S. Highway 34 west through Loveland Colorado. Stay on Highway 34 going west through the Big Thompson Canyon. This canyon offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the state and travelers often glimpse Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep on the steep cliffs that rise above the Big Thompson River. This was the route that the famous Stanley Steamers once followed as they took early visitors from Loveland to Estes Park.
Another scenic route also goes through Boulder on Highway 36 to U.S 7/Colorado Highway 119 through Boulder Canyon to Netherland. In Netherland turn north onto Highway 72 until you reach Highway 7 and then turn left onto Highway 7 and head north to Estes Park. This is the Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway and offers splendid views of the park and surrounding areas. When the leaves are changing in the fall this is the choice to see the foliage in all it glory.
A few tips for driving in the high country
- Cars that are usually driven at lower elevations may experience vapor lock where the cars stalls and overheats. Stay in lower gear and sometimes slowly taking off the gas cap can solve this problem.
- Use lower gears and avoid riding the brakes as you go downhill to avoid overheating the cars brake pads.
- Be sure to fill up with gas before entering the park as there are no service stations within the park boundaries.
- Watch for wildlife at all times walking onto the roads. Dawn and dusk are especially busy times for wildlife. If you’re driving during these times, slow down a bit since these animals cross the roads very frequently.
- It’s a good idea to check the road conditions and the weather forecast before you go. The weather in the high country can be unpredictable at times, so it’s a good idea to know what to expect, especially in the winter.
- Keep your eyes on the road as you drive as the roads are full of twists and turns and narrow shoulders. When pulling off onto the shoulder be sure you can pull completely off the road so that other motorists aren’t forced to avoid hitting you.