Colorado Springs to Estes Park
Looking for the best route from Colorado Springs to Estes Park? Whether you want the quickest route or the most scenic route, I’ve got you covered.
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Colorado Springs has so many unique things to do, and Estes Park is the gateway to one of the most beautiful national parks. So it makes sense to want to see both cities while visiting Colorado. Trying to decide which route to take? That depends on what your drive-goal is! See below for quickest, direct drive or a few options of scenic drives!
Here is the best way to get from Colorado Springs to Estes Park to make your drive worthwhile.
Table of Contents
How far is Estes Park from Colorado Springs?
If you take the most direct route, it is around 130 miles and 2-1/2 hours from Colorado Springs to Estes Park. This is mainly on highways the whole time, giving you the most efficient time.
If you’d like to take any number of scenic routes, expect to add a few hours.
Directions to Estes Park, Colorado (most direct)
The quickest way to get from Colorado Springs to Estes Park is to take I-25 north through Denver, and then exit at Longmont/Lyons exit 243 onto CO-66. This road will eventually land you into Estes Park after driving through a few other towns.
Alternatively, you can also exit I-25 towards Boulder and cut up north. The timing is roughly the same.
Either of these routes will take roughly 2-1/2 hours.
Scenic Routes from Colorado Springs to Estes Park
Here are a few options for taking a scenic route from Colorado Springs to Estes Park. There are a few to choose from depending on what you’d like to see and how much time you have.
Option 1: Longest Scenic Route (with stops):
Colorado Springs > Woodland Park > Breckenridge > Grand Lake > Trail Ridge Road > Estes Park
Drive Time: 5 hours 40 minutes
Route Tips: This route can only be accomplished during summer months, as Trail Ridge Road is closed late fall through spring. This route is best if you have a few days to finish it, as you’ll probably want to stop in some of these towns for the night.
Colorado Springs is obviously the starting point here. If you are visiting, then know that there are so many cool things to do in Colorado Springs.
Woodland Park isn’t too far from Colorado Springs (about 30 minutes). On the way, you could take the Cog Rail up Pike’s Peak to get the views of a lifetime on one of America’s most famous mountains. Also stop by the Florissant Fossil Beds, home to massive petrified Redwood tree stumps.
While in Woodland Park, enjoy the beautiful scenery in this quaint town.
Breckenridge is the next stop, roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes away. You’ll travel from highway 9 to highway 285 North to get to Breckenridge. This road is rather scenic, and rather windy. If anyone gets motion sickness, it’s a good idea to keep some Dramamine on hand.
Once you arrive in Breckenridge, there are so, so many great things to do. Check out some family-friendly hikes (including the famous woodland troll!), take the free gondola to the top of the mountain, or one of the many other fun activities in Breckenridge.
If you’ve spent all day driving and doing activities, Breckenridge is a great place to stop for the night.
Check out some of the Top Hotels in Breckenridge to stay the night.
Grand Lake is the next stop at about 1 hour and 50 minutes from Breckenridge. This beautiful town has a downtown are just off the lake and provides fun for families year round.
Try paddle boarding on the lake, rent a pontoon and go for a relaxing ride, or take a hike in the area (Monarch Lake is a beautiful place for a hike).
Check out the great restaurants and maybe even stay the night.
The final drive is the best: Trail Ridge Road. This road is actually inside of Rocky Mountain National Park, so you will need a parks pass (and reservation during summer) or to pay for entrance when you get there.
Rocky Mountain National Park is right on the border of Grand Lake, so it’s very quick to get to. Once in the park, it is less than an hour to get to Trail Ridge Road.
Even if you don’t jump out to do any easy hikes with the family in the park, Trail Ridge Road is a gorgeous drive through the park. There are a few spots to pull over for quick viewpoints. I recommend visiting the Alpine Visitor Center, which is located at the very top.
Once you drive to the other side of the park, you’ll be in Estes Park!
Check out the many fun things to do in Estes Park with kids once you arrive.
Option 2: Scenic Route from Colorado Springs to Estes Park (fewer stops)
Colorado Springs > Guanella Pass > Idaho Springs > Nederland > Allenspark > Estes Park
Drive Time: 5 hours
Route Tips: This route is best in late September when the fall colors are thriving.
Begin in Colorado Springs and try some of the fun activities linked in the above section on Colorado Springs.
Next, head towards Fairplay by taking highway 24 (west) to highway 9 (north) to 285 (north). Drive until you hit the town of Grant, where you will find Guanella Pass.
Guanella Pass is known as one of the top places in Colorado to see Fall Colors, so if you are driving from Colorado Springs to Estes Park in late September, you should definitely take this route.
As you finish Guanella Pass, you’ll arrive in Georgetown. Head east on I-70 to Idaho Springs.
Idaho Springs is full of fun just off the highway. It’s a great place to grab lunch and take a little hike. St. Mary’s Glacier is a popular and gorgeous hike nearby.
When you’re time is over in Idaho Springs, get back on I-70 for a short jump over to Central City Parkway and head north to Nederland.
Nederland is a gorgeous, hidden gem that is worthy of a stop. For something fun, ride the Carousel of Happiness (yep, that’s the name), a hand-carved work of art. And it’s only a couple dollars for a ride.
If you have more time, try one of the many gorgeous hikes in Nederland, like the 4 mile trail to Lost Lake. For something short and easy (around 2-1/2 miles roundtrip), try heading to Rainbow Lakes for a 9-lake hike!
Continue north on 72 towards Allenspark.
The final stop is in Allenspark, another lesser-known beauty of Colorado. Here you’ll find a instagram worthy Church on the Rock, which was built atop a large rock area and makes for some stunning photos.
Ouzel Falls is remarkable and requires just over a 5 mile hike (R/T) to visit.
From here, Estes Park is just a short drive away.
Option 3: Shorter route from Colorado Springs to Estes Park: Denver and Boulder
Colorado Springs > Denver > Boulder
Drive Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Route Tips: If you are visiting in winter but would still like a few stops, this is the route to take.
Begin in Colorado Springs. You can check out a 3-day itinerary in Colorado Springs if you’re staying a few nights.
Head north on I-25 until you reach Denver.
Denver is the next stop. Denver is full of city-style fun for families. Check out the aquarium, Denver Zoo, 16th street mall, or attend a professional sports game. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of family-friendly free things to do in Denver.
After Denver, head north again and exit US-36 toward Boulder.
Boulder is a fun town with a chill vibe. It has tons of nature, hiking, a university, a great downtown area, and plenty to enjoy.
Nearby Eldorado Canyon State Park is a unique stop with great family-friendly hikes. Walk along Pearl Street, famous for its street performers or go visit Boulder Falls, a great waterfall that’s pretty easy to access.
Stay the Night in the Spacious and Comfortable Residence Inn in Boulder
Colorado Springs to Estes Park
While the most directs route from Colorado Springs to Estes Park takes just about 2-1/2 hours, there are other options if you are wanting to get out, explore, or just take a scenic drive.
Whichever you are wanting, one of these routes from Colorado Springs to Estes Park will work great for your family. You could, of course, also use their routes in reverse if you are driving from Estes Park to Colorado Springs.
So enjoy your drive and your adventure!
FAQs on Colorado Springs to Estes Park
How far is Estes Park From Colorado Springs
Take the most direct route, Estes Park is about 130 miles and 2-1/2 hours from Colorado Springs. There other routes you can take that add more miles, but more scenery as well.
Is Estes Park in Colorado a National Park?
No, Estes Park is not a National Park. Estes Park is a city, and it is the city that hosts part of Rocky Mountain National Park, which is a national park.
Is there a shuttle from Denver to Estes Park?
You can use a shuttle from the Denver airport to Estes Park. There are also private car services that run from Denver to Estes Park.
Is Estes Park Free?
Estes Park is a city, so yes, it is free to enter and be in the city. Anything you do will have a cost. Rocky Mountain National Park, however, is not free and requires an entrance fee.
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