Where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

  • Post last modified:May 14, 2022
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Rocky Mountain National Park spoils its visitors with alpine lakes, fascinating wildlife and tall mountain tops. With elevations of more than 14,000 feet you really feel on top of the world in the Colorado park. But where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park for the best experience?

The two gateway towns Estes Park and Grand Lake are the best places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park. In the convenient towns you find a great selection of Rocky Mountain hotels. Further away Loveland and Boulder offer Rocky Mountain lodging on a budget.

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Find places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park, CO – The best place to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park in the east

There are no places to stay within Rocky Mountain National Park. But the gateway towns Estes Park and Grand Lake offer Rocky Mountain National Park lodging in the front row.

Estes Park is Rocky Mountain National Park’s eastern gateway town. From Rocky Mountain lodging in Estes Park it only takes you minutes to get to the park adventure.

Trail Ridge Road is a park highlight that cuts through the park from Estes Park in the east to Grand Lake in the west. The famous road is easy to reach from Rocky Mountain National Park hotels at both ends.

Still the eastern location is extra convenient as that’s where you find many of the other most visited Rocky Mountain spots. Emerald Lake, Alberta Falls and Bear Lake are among the popular highlights on the eastern side of the Colorado park. From Rocky Mountain hotels in Estes Park it’s just 14 miles (23 km) and 30 minutes to Bear Lake, at the very end of Bear Lake Road.

Estes Park is also the perfect Rocky Mountain base if you prefer a more lively town. It’s the bigger of the gateway towns where you find more Rocky Mountain National Park hotels, restaurants and things to do. Downtown Estes Park has an appreciated selection of cute souvenir shops, candy stores and restaurants.

But the attractive location and lively vibe makes Estes Park very popular for where to stay when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Therefore make sure that you book your Rocky Mountain lodging as early as possible if you want Estes Park as your base.

In short, Estes Park is the best option for where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park with the whole package. If you pick Estes Park, you get both great access to the most popular park spots and a fun liveliness. But look towards Grand Lake if you prefer Rocky Mountain lodging in a quieter town.

Pick Estes Park for: The whole Rocky Mountain package.

Favorite location. Estes Park is the alternative for where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park that has it all. The town with charming Rocky Mountain hotels offers both superb access to the most popular parts of the national park and off the park fun.

Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.

The Inn on Fall River – Cozy Rocky Mountain accommodation by the river

At the Inn on Fall River it’s easy to believe that you’re staying inside the actual national park. The setting on Fall River is very peaceful, and the Rocky Mountain lodging is a great place to relax after a day in the park. With the sound of the river present it has never been easier to unwind.

Just the ambience makes the Inn on Fall River one of the best places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park. However, its location near both the national park and Estes Park activities is also spot on.

Rams Horn Village Resort – A spacious Rocky Mountain National Park resort

Rams Horn Village Resort conveniently sits between Downtown Estes Park and the national park. The resort is homely Rocky Mountain National Park lodging at its best.

Above all it’s one of the best places to stay near Rocky Mountains National Park both for families and couples who want something spacious. At the resort you can spread out and to the fullest enjoy the beautiful environment. And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see elk and deer roam the property of the Rocky Mountain National Park resort.

There are places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park in the gateway town Estes Park
Welcome to Estes Park, CO.

Grand Lake, CO – The best place to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park in the west

Grand Lake is Rocky Mountain National Park’s western gateway town. From Rocky Mountain accommodation in Grand Lake you effortlessly get to the adventure in the adjacent Colorado park.

In particular you easily access the high and popular Trail Ridge Road from Grand Lake. To explore the road that goes through the park is one of the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

But from Rocky Mountain lodging in Grand Lake you have a longer drive to get to some of the most visited spots on the park’s eastern side, including Emerald Lake, Alberta Falls and Bear Lake. From Grand Lake it’s 52 miles (84 km) and as much as around two hours to get across the park to Bear Lake.

Rocky Mountain’s western side, where Grand Lake is located, is known as the quieter side. Hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park in the west offer more solitude than if you stay on the busier eastern side.

The western gateway town also offers fewer Rocky Mountain National Park lodging options, restaurants and things to do. Grand Lake is a much smaller town than Estes Park in the east.

But with its attractive gateway location and peacefulness Grand Lake is also a very popular option for where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park. Therefore make sure that you just like for Estes Park book your Rocky Mountain National Park accommodation as early as possible.

To sum up, Grand Lake is a great option for where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park if you look for peacefulness. The western side of the park is an excellent choice if you want to avoid larger crowds and don’t mind to be further away from the popular spots on the eastern side.

Pick Grand Lake for: Hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park in the quieter west.

Spirit Lake Lodge – Stay in the heart of Grand Lake

In the heart of Grand Lake the Spirit Lake Lodge sits. Just steps from the town’s offerings and the scenic lake the location couldn’t be any better. In addition the Rocky Mountain lodge also has a rustic appearance that it’s hard not to like.

View from Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park
View from Trail Ridge Road, CO

Loveland & Boulder, CO – Rocky Mountain lodging further away

Loveland and Boulder are two Colorado cities that are located much further away than the other options for where to stay when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. From Loveland it’s 30 miles (48 km) and 45 minutes by car to get to Estes Park. And if you stay in Boulder the drive is even slightly longer.

The longer distance makes the cities less convenient options for where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s much more comfortable and rewarding to stay at Rocky Mountain National Park hotels in the gateway towns. From the gateway towns you easily get to the park, and that’s where you find the true Rocky Mountain National Park ambience.

But away from Rocky Mountain National Park means that the hotel rates tend to go down. So Loveland and Boulder are options if you visit Rocky Mountain National Park on a budget.

In conclusion, Loveland and Boulder are not the best options for where to stay when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Lodging near Rocky Mountain National Park in the gateway towns is more convenient. Still Loveland and Boulder are options if you look for Rocky Mountain places to stay on a budget and don’t mind the drive.

Pick Loveland/Boulder for: Rocky Mountain National Park on a budget.

Budget location. Especially during peak season the rates at Rocky Mountain National Park hotels in the gateway towns tend to be rather steep. Roughly an hour from the park Loveland and Boulder are appreciated options for where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park on a budget.

Fall colors a short drive from places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park
Fall colors in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Should you pick Estes Park or Grand Lake?

As long as Rocky Mountain National Park has existed, people have asked if Estes Park or Grand Lake is the best park base. But if you should pick Estes Park or Grand Lake depends on what attributes you prefer.

Getting there

A huge majority of Rocky Mountain National Park visitors travel to the park from the Denver area. As the quickest route from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park goes through Estes Park, it’s the easiest gateway town to reach.

Grand Lake is at the western end of Rocky Mountain National Park a little bit more hidden. The drive to get there is longer for most visitors, but the solitude is also an attribute that many travelers enjoy.

Estes Park vs Grand Lake: Estes Park is more convenient but Grand Lake is more off the beaten track.

Exploring the park

As Estes Park and Grand Lake are located at the border to Rocky Mountain National Park, the two offer great park access. From Rocky Mountain National Park hotels in both Estes Park and Grand Lake you effortlessly reach the renowned Trail Ridge Road.

Still most of the famous park spots are easier to reach from Estes Park. Emerald Lake, Alberta Falls and last but not least Bear Lake are all located on the eastern side of the tall Colorado park.

The difference in driving distance to Bear Lake is significant. From hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park it’s only 14 miles (23 km) to Bear Lake. In contrast, it’s 52 miles (84 km) to get across the park from Grand Lake to Bear Lake.

Estes Park vs Grand Lake: Estes Park is closer to a majority of the most visited park spots.

Town atmosphere

Estes Park is the bigger and busier gateway town. Most park visitors stay in Estes Park, and the town offers more Rocky Mountain National Park hotels, dining options, shops and things to do.

On the other hand the western gateway town offers more peacefulness. Grand Lake gets fewer visitors and has a smaller selection of Rocky Mountain lodging, restaurants, stores and attractions off the park.

Estes Park vs Grand Lake: Estes Park means more liveliness and things to do in contrast to the quieter Grand Lake.

Wildlife in Estes Park, CO
An Estes Park visitor.

Search for hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Use the booking tool below to find the best places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to get all Rocky Mountain hotels listed.

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Where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park FAQ

Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Where should I stay when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park?

The eastern gateway town Estes Park is the most popular Rocky Mountain National Park lodging option. In Estes Park you get great park access and a lively vibe. On the western side Grand Lake is a quieter gateway town that’s perfect if you want more solitude and don’t mind the longer drive to the Bear Lake area.

What city is closest to Rocky Mountain National Park?

The adjacent gateway towns Estes Park and Grand Lake are the towns closest to Rocky Mountain National Park. Other options such as Loveland and Boulder are located much further away from the park.

Is it better to stay in Estes Park or Grand Lake?

Both Estes Park and Grand Lake are great options for where to stay when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is livelier and gives you better access to in particular the Bear Lake area. On the other hand Grand Lake is the more peaceful option that feels further away from it all.

Does Rocky Mountain National Park have a hotel?

There are no hotels or other accommodation options within Rocky Mountain National Park. However, the gateway towns Estes Park and Grand Lake provide great Rocky Mountain National Park lodging just a stone’s throw away from the park fun.

Are there Rocky Mountain National Park cabins inside the park?

Although you find several cabins near Rocky Mountain National Park, there are no Rocky Mountain National Park cabins inside the park. But if you want to avoid the traffic in the gateway towns, you can stay close to the park border. For example, Rams Horn Village Resort offers comfy and peaceful Rocky Mountain cabins right where the adventure begins.

How many days do you need in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Three days in Rocky Mountain National Park gives you time for the most scenic drives and popular hikes in the park. But add more time if you want to explore the trails in the park more extensively.

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