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Best Rocky Mountain National Park Hotels (Where to Stay in Estes Park & Grand Lake)

Best Rocky Mountain National Park Hotels (Where to Stay in Estes Park & Grand Lake)

Are you wondering where to stay and what are the best hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado? This Rocky Mountain NP lodging guide is for you!

If you have done some research for the best Rocky Mountain National Park hotels or cabins, you probably already know that there is no overnight accommodation available inside the park itself. However, there are plenty of excellent hotels, lodges, and cabins located nearby, giving you easy access to all the sightseeing and activities on offer in and near Rocky Mountain National Park.

But what are the best places to stay near Rocky Mountain NP? I’ll save you the time for research – there are basically two places that are best to stay for visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park: Estes Park and Grand Lake. Find out!

Where to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park - complete guide to best Estes Park lodging

Where to Stay in Rocky Mountain NP, Colorado: Estes Park vs. Grand Lake

If you are looking for an easy answer where to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park – in Estes Park or in Grand Lake, I’d say Estes Park. If you look at the map, you’ll see that these two places are located really far from each other and Estes Park has a much better location for visiting the Rocky Mountain NP. Take a look at the more detailed breakdown of the advantages of each of these towns below.

Estes Park

Located just 15 minutes away from the eastern side of the park, Estes Park is the best place to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park. Sitting on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, Estes Park offers convenient access to the most popular hiking trails.

It makes the perfect base from which to take in the breathtaking views and enjoy all the recreational activities available – everything from fishing and cycling in the summer, to sledding and cross country skiing in the winter months.

There are also many more lodging options and good hotels in Estes Park than in Grand Lake.

Back in my college years, I spent three summer months working in Estes Park. I took full advantage of its excellent location and spent every free day on the hiking trails. If you come here for sightseeing, I can assure you that Estes Park is the best place to stay for exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Grand Lake

Grand Lake is known as The ‘Western Gateway’ to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It is located further from the attractions and hiking trails of the park, making it somewhat cheaper than Estes Park and far quieter.

The perfect destination for a lazy vacation, rather than a sightseeing trip in the area, the lake’s shores are dotted with summer homes and quaint cabins. A variety of recreational activities are available year-round, including sailing and fishing in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. Grand Lake is proud to be known as the Snowmobiling Capital of Colorado! 

Estes Park vs. Grand Lake. If you are looking for a place that has it all, then I recommend Estes Park. If you are looking for a more low-key vacation destination, then Grand Lake can be perfect for you.

In this guide to the best Rocky Mountain National Park hotels, I mostly focus on Estes Park lodging, because it offers the best hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park. The selection is split into different categories to help you find the best accommodation option for your trip.

At the bottom of this post, you can also find a small selection of the best accommodation options in Grand Lake.

But first – the best places to stay in Estes Park – top choice for Rocky Mountain National Park lodging. Find out!

Estes Park is the best place to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park gives direct access to the best hiking areas of RMNP, like Bear Lake Trailhead pictured here

Best Estes Park hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park

With such a wide variety of accommodation in the area, finding the right hotel to suit the needs of your group isn’t always easy. Not to mention that it’s really time-consuming… The good news is that I’ve done the research for you, and this Rocky Mountain National Park accommodation guide is intended to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Whether you are looking for the best price-quality hotel for visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, budget accommodation in Estes Park, or a luxury resort for a family vacation near Rocky Mountain NP – in this post you should be able to find the very best Estes Park accommodation option for your trip, travel style, group size, and budget. Read on!

Please note that this selection of the best Estes Park lodging is made based on my personal experience, customer reviews on various websites, location and facilities of accommodations, as well as the price.

This post is not sponsored and all opinions are solely my own and are meant to save you time and make your vacation planning easier. At no extra cost to you, we make a small commission if you book accommodation using the links in this post.

TIP: Rocky Mountain National Park is extremely popular in the summer months, so if you are traveling between June and August, you have to book your Rocky Mountain accommodations well in advance.


Best located hotels for exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park

There are two main Rocky Mountain National Park entrance gates in the direct proximity of Estes Park: the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station and Fall River Entrance Station. They are both very close to Estes Park, but also to the main hiking area, Bear Lake Trailhead. These two park entrances also offer the quickest access to the Trail Ridge Road – the scenic road that you have to drive at least once when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park.

So if you come for sightseeing and want the best location that offers you the quickest access to the Rocky Mountain National Park, you should consider staying either at Fall River or near the Beaver Meadows area.

TIP: Rocky Mountain NP offers a daily or 7-day pass for short visits. However, if you are visiting several American National Parks in one year, consider purchasing an annual National Parks pass instead. It’s the best option for families, but also for everyone who visits multiple parks during a 12-month period.

Below is a small selection of Estes Park hotels that are the closest to the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park AND have all received excellent reviews from previous visitors. These are by far the best accommodation options near Rocky Mountain National Park for those who are mainly interested in sightseeing, hiking, and exploring the park.

Best Estes Park lodging near Beaver Meadows Entrance Gate:

Best Estes Park lodging near Fall River Entrance Gate:

  • Nicky’s Resort. One of the best-rated accommodations in this area. Affordable prices, excellent location, and a seasonal pool make it a very popular choice.
  • Wildwood Inn. Just 1 mile from Rocky Mountain National Park and with a full-service day spa.
  • Boulder Brook on Fall River. Excellent reviews. Small, adults-only property, where all rooms have a patio with a river view. 
  • Ponderosa Lodge. Excellent riverside location about halfway between Estes Park and Fall River Entrance (5-minutes drive to both). Hottub is available too.
Elk next to a river in Estes Park - it's common to see wildlife in many hotels and cabins near Rocky Mountain National Park
It’s quite common to see wildlife at your accommodation near Rocky Mountain National Park

Most scenically located accommodations near Rocky Mountain National Park

Breathtaking scenery abounds in Estes Park, but there are several places to stay that offer particularly stunning views of their surroundings. Here is a selection of Estes Park accommodations that are located in the most beautiful setting.

  • The Estes Park Resort. 4* lakefront resort with a nice restaurant and spectacular views of Lake Estes and the Rocky Mountains. Lakeside fire pits are also a nice addition and a great way to enjoy the scenery. Some rooms feature jacuzzis and that there is a sauna and games room in the property as well.
  • 4 Seasons Inn on Fall River. Adults-only 4* resort with stunning views of the Fall River. The spacious deck – which includes a large outdoor jetted hot tub – is the perfect place from which to take in the beautiful scenery.
  • Rams Horn Village Resort. Rated ‘exceptional’ by customers on, this luxury 2-bedroom holiday home offers beautiful mountain views and is frequently visited by local wildlife. Seasonal outdoor swimming pool is available.
  • Streamside on Fall River. 3*. Big choice of cabins and suites, nestled by the river surrounded by pine and aspen trees. Each have mountain views and some also have a patio with views of the river. A great location for fishing; some guests have reported catching rainbow trout right outside their cabins!
The Estes Park Resort is one of the most scenically located hotel near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
The Estes Park Resort offers amazing lakeside views and cozy fire pits. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

Best value for money hotels in Estes Park

If you’re on a low- to mid-range budget but don’t want to compromise on quality, the following Estes Park accommodations offer excellent value at great prices. I only included properties that are not just affordable, but also have really good customer reviews.

  • Coyote Mountain Lodge. One of the most affordable Estes Park accommodations with excellent customer reviews.
  • Murphy’s Resort. Simple nice hotel with fabulous reviews, an outdoor heated pool, and family suites sleeping up to 6 people. Breakfast included. This is probably one of the best price-quality accommodations in Estes Park.
  • YMCA of the Rockies. Excellent location, superb guest reviews, and heated indoor pool make this lodge outstanding value for money.
  • Blue Door Inn. This recently renovated Inn describes itself as ‘Budget Done Better’, offering great rooms at good prices. Free breakfast is included and a seasonal heated pool is available.

If you want to visit Rocky Mountain National Park on a budget, try to avoid high season. Another good way to save some money on Estes Park lodging is by checking private vacation rentals on VRBO. There are quite a lot of options in Estes Park, which might be ideal for a longer stay or bigger families as well.


Best Estes Park hotels for big families

These Estes Park hotels and inns have family rooms for at least 6 people (some even more) and all have customer ratings of 8+. I have listed them in order of their location, beginning with the accommodations closest to the Rocky Mountains National Park.

  • Wildwood Inn. Nice accommodation for up to 10 people. All rooms have private hot tubs and there is an outdoor swimming pool as well. Close to the Fall River Entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Silver Moon Inn.  Located on the riverfront with a seasonal outdoor pool and a hot tub. Family rooms for up to 7 people.
  • Appenzell Inn. Family suites sleep up to 8 people and there’s a beautiful indoor pool. Breakfast included.
  • Murphy’s River Lodge. Beautiful hotel within walking distance from Estes Park downtown. Nice indoor pool and a hot tub. Family rooms for up to 6 people. Breakfast included.
  • The Estes Park Resort. Beautiful 4* lakefront resort with spectacular views and rooms for up to 6, even 7 people.
  • Hotel Estes. This popular 3* hotel offers great views. With a children’s playground and some rooms sleeping up to 6 guests, this is a great family hotel. Breakfast included.
The Estes Park Resort is a nice hotel for families
The Estes Park Resort ticks many boxes – location, views, and rooms for all group sizes. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

Best accommodation in Estes Park with indoor pools

While many Estes Park hotels and lodges feature seasonal outdoor pools, accommodation with an indoor pool is harder to find. The following hotels in Estes Park all include both an indoor heated pool and (unless noted) a hot tub.

  • Appenzell Inn. Beautiful indoor pool. Also includes expansive gardens with 2 waterfall ponds.
  • Murphy’s River Lodge. Nice indoor pool and great location. Just over 3 miles from the Rocky Mountains National Park and a 5 minute walk from Estes Park town center.
  • The Ridgeline Hotel Estes Park, Ascend Hotel Collection. This hotel is located in town and offers a bar and a restaurant as well as lovely outdoor fire pits. In addition to its indoor pool and tub, it has a complete fitness center as well. There is also an excellent, free games room. This is a pet-friendly hotel.
  • YMCA of the Rockies. Ideally located in close proximity to the entrance of the Rocky Mountains National Park, the Lodge offers a large, indoor heated pool. There is no hot tub available.

A unique place to stay in Estes Park… If you dare!

The Stanley Hotel. Fans of ‘The Shining‘ will love this historic Estes Park Hotel, famous for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s ‘Overlook Hotel’. I always thought that the movie was filmed here in Estes Park, but it appears that the actual hotel used for the film was represented by Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood in Oregon…

Anyway, The Stanley Hotel is an interesting place to visit and they even organize tours. If you are brave enough, why not try the ‘Night Tour’ and immerse yourself in the story of the hotel’s history… after dark!

While it oozes old-world charm and has a beautiful facade, some of the guest rooms may benefit from a little updating and customer reviews aren’t great, so I’m not sure if this is the best lodging option in Estes Park. But if you are looking for a hotel with history and charm and are lucky to get a room with a view – it might be one of the most special places to stay in Estes Park!

Grand Lake – alternative accommodation near Rocky Mountain National Park

While Estes Park is ideally situated for your Rocky Mountain National Park vacation, accommodations here are really popular and also expensive. Another good place to stay for visiting Rocky Mountain National Park is Grand Lake, located on the other side of the park.

However, accommodation options here are much more limited.

The following is a selection of the best-rated places to stay in Grand Lake:

  • The Historic Rapids Lodge. One of the best-rated accommodations in Grand Lake that also offers excellent value for your money. Rooms for up to 6 people.

So, this is our guide to the best Estes Park hotels and places to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park. I hope it will help you plan your trip to the RMNP.

Just please remember one thing – booking Rocky Mountain National Park lodging well in advance is essential! The best price-quality accommodations sell out months and months in advance and what’s left is usually extremely expensive.

Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary Suggestions
Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park Day Trip

TIP: If you are visiting this area, don’t miss the Maroon Bells near Aspen. It’s one of the most iconic mountain destinations in Colorado!

Here you can also find our guide to the best things to see and do in Aspen. The town and the surrounding mountains are well worth a trip. Check it out!

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Best hotels near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, USA

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Saturday 31st of October 2020

My favorite was Boulder Brook on Fall River! We saw elk at the hotel grounds almost every day, it's so nice to relax by the river in the evening, and they also have a hot tub outside.


Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Thanks for sharing your experience, Lia. Sounds amazing! I added a link to your comment so that our other readers can check it out as well!

Mark Stelter

Sunday 2nd of August 2020

Hi! I am the owner of the Estes Lake Lodge. Thanks so much for your very kind review! Just browsing and noticed you rated us #2 for places to stay with best view! Wow! Thanks!


Tuesday 4th of August 2020

We're just trying to provide our readers with useful information and Estes Lake Lodge is indeed located in a very nice setting in Estes Park. All the best and I hope that this helps a bit in these very tough times for the travel industry.

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