It’s no secret that Colorado’s most famous outdoor recreation destinations get pretty packed come summertime. One of the most iconic National Parks in the country, Rocky Mountain National Park is no exception. If you’re planning a trip there this summer (and you should – it’s amazing), you’ll probably be headed to Estes Park. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you avoid crowds while you’re in town.

1. Start Early.

In Colorado’s mountain climbing community, a term that gets tossed around quite a bit is “alpine start.” This is a reference to starting a high-altitude hike early in attempt to avoid afternoon storms above treeline. If you’re planning a trip to Estes Park, that’s what you’ll need – but not to avoid the storms, you’ll be avoiding the crowds. The official recommendation is to arrive in town prior to 10 AM. This will make finding parking easier, leaving you with plenty of time to explore. It also might let you get into Rocky Mountain National Park prior to the long lines forming at the entrance.

2. Get a Parking Spot.

Estes Park has recently added a new parking structure to the mix, thus increasing the number of spots available in town. There’s also parking at the Estes Park Events Complex. Utilize these lots and take advantage of the great shuttle system to avoid the frustration of trying to find a spot where space is most limited downtown.

3. Use the Shuttle.

Instead of trying to move you car from spot to spot or attempting to run between places in town, use the shuttle. It’s totally free and there are five different routes that can get you almost anywhere you’ll be needing to go.

4. Try Visiting on a Weekday.

As you might expect, Estes Park gets the most crowded on the weekends. Visit during a weekday to avoid a majority of the crowds. It’s also recommended that you avoid visiting on holidays when people tend to be off work if you’re looking to avoid crowds.

5. Buy Your Rocky Mountain National Park Pass Online.

This will help the line into the park move at a faster rate, making things quicker for everyone.

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