Estes Park & The Peak to Peak Highway

Fall in Colorado is absolutely stunning. It is even more amazing if you take a little drive up to the mountains and explore while the leaves are turning. If you missed my post last year on fall foliage in Colorado, check it out! The best time to go is in September, mid September is usually best to catch the colorful trees in the Rocky Mountains. This season we went up to Estes Park, Colorado and then drove on the Peak to Peak Highway home for a scenic ride. 

Estes park in my opinion is known for two things, Elk and the famous Stanley Hotel where the horror film The Shining was filmed at. Estes is stunning so if you are looking for a quick day trip from Denver, this spot might be perfect. Right when you pull into town there will be a lake on the right side of town. Often this is where the Elk will be gathered, and the day we went that was just the case. We pulled in, parked the car and got up close with the elk of Estes. Make sure to be careful and keep a safe distance, but at the same time the elk are very used to tourists stopping for pictures. The female elk (without antlers) are far less aggressive than the males. They are all so beautiful and it was such a blast watching them in nature. We did have an incident that occurred while we were there. Two of the males were fighting and they were running right towards us! We all hid behind a car, thank God, and it was all fine, but wow talk about exciting! Like I said, keep a safe distance because you never know when they will start bickering and chasing one another, and they surely don't care if you are in their way, they will come for you too. 

estes park
elk in estes park co
estes park elk
elk in colorado
baby elk in estes park

If you visit Estes Park make sure to stop in at the Stanley Hotel! If you have ever seen The Shining starring Jack Nicholson then you are familiar with this hotel. The hotel was built in the early 1900's. Today it is a hot spot to get married, vacation or even take a ghost tour. We stopped in for lunch. We ate at the restaurant near the bar. Yes, the bar in the movie where the ghost serves his drinks! Today the bar looks quite different, but it is still exciting to see it. The food there is amazing, I would absolutely recommend eating there. We then walked around the hotel property admiring the antiques and beauty the hotel has to offer. The hotel sits on a hill overlooking Estes Park, the views of the mountains are beautiful. 

the stanley hotel
Stanley hotel
the stanley
inside stanley hotel

After lunch we headed into town to grab coffee and wander. The town is a very quaint mountain town with lots to look at. There are tons of great shops, restaurants and candy stores. There is a beautiful river on one side of the town and a few restaurants looking over the river. If we had not eaten at the Stanley Hotel, I think this would have been the next best option. If you are lucky you will see elk wandering around "their" town. We did not see any that day, but my mom has seen that before. 

estes park
estes park
estes park

We left Estes just in time to catch the Peak to Peak Highway before the sun went down. The Peak to Peak highway is a designated scenic byway that goes from Estes Park to Nederland, then towards I-70 to make your way back to Denver. This time of year this is such a great highway to take if you are driving back to the Denver area because it has amazing fall foliage. There is also a stunning church on the highway that you can stop at and look around. It's a stunning stone church nestled in nature. My suggestion would be to allow yourself enough time driving on this highway to be able to stop and enjoy every bit of it. 

fall in colorado
peak to peak highway church
peak to peak highway colorado

I hope you enjoyed this post on my adventure through Estes Park Colorado, the Stanley Hotel and the Peak to Peak Highway. If you have any questions, simply comment below. To stay updated on my newest adventures and most current blog posts, enter your email address below. Thanks for reading!