You’ve brought your dog along, only to discover that he’s not allowed on any National Park trails. The good news is there are some fun hikes near Estes Park that you and your four legged friend can enjoy together! There's Lake Estes trails in town, and here are 5 great places south of the Park to take your dog on a mountain hike.
Allenspark area south of Wild Basin in RMNP:
1) Coming into Allenspark at the main entrance (near the 15 mile marker off Hwy 7), follow the curving road to SKI Rd. Go right about 2.7 miles and you will enter forest service lands. At a Y in the road go right and about 2/10 mile is a trail head parking lot to the St. Vrain trailhead. Dogs are allowed on leash. This hike is very pretty and goes up Meadow Mountain. It’s also a great place to snowshoe in winter.
2) Left at the Y is a 4 wheel drive road that goes down to rugged camping by a stream (Labradors love this!). Also nice hiking.
3) Past Allenspark about 5 miles, turn right on Hwy 72. Go about 3 miles down 72 to the road to the Camp Dick/Peaceful Valley (entrance on the right side of the road). You will see two roads on the left for the Peaceful Valley Ranch and the entrance to the hiking/cross-country ski/camping area is just past the second road. Drive through two campgrounds to a parking area and trailhead. Snowmachines and 4 wheel drive vehicles can continue up the 4 wheel drive area. To hike go up the road and take the trail to the right about a hundred yards up the road. This is a very pretty area including several stream crossings with bridges. You can hike about 5 miles before you hit the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary where dogs are not allowed.
4) Same start as above but go further down Hwy 72 a few miles and look for the sign on right that will indicate a left turn onto Jamestown Road. Drive a few miles to the Ceran St. Vrain trailhead sign pointing to a left turn. Go about 1/10 mile. This trail goes through mature trees along a great fishing river and is wonderful for kids that love the water and people who like to fish.
5) Go even further along Hwy 72 (8.7 miles from Hwy 7) to a right hand turn past the Mill Site Inn (a fun place to stop for pizza, sandwiches, and a cold beer!) and go up to Brainard Lake State Rec area. Dogs allowed on leash on trails. (Costs about $9 to get in; good for 5 days).
If you're looking for a last minute campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park, here are some tips:
All the campgrounds inside the park offer first-come first-serve opportunities without reservations.
- They can fill quickly, so a good number to call for same day information on campgrounds is (970) 586-1206, the official number of Rocky Mountain National Park. They can direct you.
- If you have advanced notice, to make a reservation, call (877) 444-6777 or visit www.reserveamerica.com.
- Search for both 'Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado' & 'Estes Park, CO' as they reserve state campgrounds near RMNP as well as campgrounds inside the Park.
- Check Estes Park commercial RV & Campground Businesses.
Below is a list of the five campgrounds in RMNP:
With RV & tent sites:
- Timber Creek on the west or Grand Lake side of the Park – 98 sites, Region 1
- Aspenglen on Fall River Road (Highway 34) – 54 sites, Region 3
- Moraine Park on Bear Lake Road (off of Highway 36) – 245 sites, Region 4
- Glacier Basin on Bear Lake Road, 6 miles south of the Beaver Meadows Entrance – 150 sites, 13 group sites, Region 4
Tent sites only:
- Longs Peak off of Highway 7 south of Estes Park – 26 sites, Region 5