Sights and Scenery in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park

From breathtaking vistas to active and endearing wildlife, Estes Park and neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park are must-sees on any trek through the Northern and Central Colorado mountains.

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Photo By: Ann Schonlau

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Photo By: Justine Booth

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Photo By: Visit Estes Park

Big Thompson Canyon Drive

The eastbound drive into Estes Park from Big Thompson Canyon is known as one of the most beautiful drives in the state. Rugged cliffs and picture-perfect views culminate in this view driving into Estes Park.

Elk Rut

It's common to see elk foraging throughout Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. These creatures may seem tame, but during the fall rut the males will bugle and shriek to defend and challenge neighboring males.

Marmot

Some 63 animal species call the Estes Park region home, including this marmot. These mountain ground squirrels are common in the mountains and can be heard before spotted with their signature high-pitched chirp.

Dream Lake

Keep your camera handy for spectacular views of Longs Peak and Glacier Gorge while hiking Dream Lake Trail. This relatively easy, two-mile hike is one of the most popular in Rocky Mountain National Park, perhaps because it is located in Tyndall Gorge, one of the five glaciers still active in RMNP.

Pika

This pika, a non-hibernating critter that lives above treeline, is gathering food for winter. Hikers may see and hear these vocal creatures defending their dried vegetation "haypiles" as they travel along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Unnamed Lake

This is, literally, an unnamed Lake, says Brooke Burnham, Estes Park's communications director. Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, the peaks (left to right) are Otis Peak, Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain.

Elk Herds

One of the largest species of deer in North America, elk are the mainstay of Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. This 500-pound cow travels in a large group of her cohorts led by one male. In summer, her fur will turn copper brown, while in other seasons it will become light tan.

Columbine

A columbine, the state flower of Colorado, blooms along a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park's burnt-out area from the 2012 Fern Lake Fire. Sparked by an illegal campfire, the fire consumed 3,500 acres over two months. These flowers hold promise and hope for the natural revegetation of the park.

Moraine Park

This flat expanse located near the Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park was forever changed by glaciers that halted their downhill migration, settling and eventually receding to leave fertile meadows where elk and other wildlife gathers.

Bear Lake

Start at the Bear Lake Trailhead to take a scenic one-mile stroll around the water, putting you at 9,450 feet. Formed during the Ice Age, the lake is now easily approached by a parking lot or Rocky Mountain National Park's shuttle system.

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