Skip nav to main content.

Photo Credit: Manor RV

Picnics in the Park

Did you know that the only place to buy food inside Rocky Mountain National Park is at the Alpine Visitor Center at the top of Trail Ridge Road?

But you can always take your breakfast, lunch or dinner to a picnic area on a beautiful mountain day and enjoy being outside. . .

There are lots of convenient picnic areas in the Park, along the north fork of the Big Thompson River, on the shore of Lake Estes, along the stretch of US 34 that follows the Big Thompson River, and in town along the RiverWalk.

Plan ahead before you get hungry!  Take-out is available from many local restaurants (see our Dining Page for suggestions).

Suggestions for a perfect picnic!

“Perfect” is a risky claim to make, and of course a bit subjective. But we think whether you are a health nut or a comfort food fan, when you surround yourself with a beautiful outdoor setting the food just tastes better!

Finger foods are top on our list because they don’t require packing a fork or spoon. Of course, finger foods are a very broad category, so here are our favorites:

Cheese & Crackers  – There are so many possible variations of this classic combo, but there’s something about the crunch of a cracker combined with the filling, creamy flavor of cheese that hits the spot! And cheese and crackers are so portable.

Grapes – another great way to stay hydrated.  Grapes are around 80% water.

Sandwiches – I love a good chicken salad or tuna fish sandwich.  But when it comes to picnics I tend to avoid mayonnaise based sandwiches.  You can’t go wrong with a pb&j or ham and cheese!

Applesauce or Yogurt Packets – Grab some Go Go Squeeze or Gogurt  packages and pop them in freezer the night before and they can act as ice packs for the rest of your food.

Fried Chicken – this is one you will have to trust me on.  My husband suggested this as his favorite picnic food when we were first married.  I thought it sounded kind of gross to be honest. But I will readily admit that we all happily devoured it after an active morning outdoors! Here’s the secret: make or buy the fried chicken the night before. While it is still hot, leave it out on paper towels for 30 min for some of the excess grease to drain off before refrigerating overnight. This prevents any excess oil from congealing when cold.

Veggie sticks  – put some in a ziplock bag with ice.  The ice will melt a little and keep the veggie sticks from wilting, and also help keep your other food cool.

Nuts – Any nut is great, but we especially love the Boulder, CO nut company Olomomo! Their nuts come in all kinds of unique flavors and are great for a picnic or trail snack.

Join us on the trails this spring and summer in Rocky Mountain National Park!

Last Post

Halloween - A Spooky Time in Estes Park

View All Posts
Next Post

Nature Notes