Estes Park Parking Tips: Read This Before Visiting!

If you’re going to Estes Park and bringing your car, finding the right parking spot can be a bit confusing. But don’t worry, there are resources to help you figure it out. What’s more, you can totally score free parking in Estes Park!

In this guide, I’ll hook you up with all the tips you need to know about parking before you visit Estes Park.

Tip #1: Head to the visitor center to get a parking map

When you arrive in Estes Park, one of your initial stops should be the Estes Park visitor center.

It’s a well-done facility staffed with friendly individuals who can address any inquiries you may have about the town.

Additionally, they offer a wealth of materials to assist you in discovering dining options, things to do, and more.

They have a visitors guide booklet that has a parking map inside of it which will have all of the latest lots and street parking labeled clearly so that you’ll be able to tell the paid lots from the free lots.

I highly suggest that you get that book and also it’s helpful because you can find coupons to some of the popular restaurants in town!

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Tip #2: There are free and paid lots scattered around town

When you take a look at the parking map mentioned above, you’ll see that there are free and paid lots scattered all around town. It’s usually easy to tell these apart because they are clearly marked as free or paid.

The maps label the parking lots with different animals to help you find where you are. They also use a color system to show you the difference between the paid and the free lots and those that have stricter time limits such as only one hour or three hours.

One thing to be aware of is that sometimes a free lot is located right next to a paid lot. So if you’re okay with just walking like 20 more steps you can completely avoid paying for parking!

Tip #3: You can take advantage of free EV charging

One of the coolest things about visiting Estes Park for us, was finding the free EV charging options.

We parked at the lot near the visitor center and utilized one of the EV spaces pretty much every time we went into town.

This incredible setup allowed us to keep our hybrid vehicle fully charged throughout the entire two-week adventure, and not a single drop of gasoline was used.

It was an absolute blast cruising through Rocky Mountain National Park without burning any gas. The whole experience felt refreshingly eco-friendly, as there is just something about utilizing electric power in a national park that just feels so right.

I don’t know if this will always be the case but the EV charging was also free so not only did we not use any gas but we did not have to pay for any electricity. Considering all the back-and-forth we did between Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, this was a major value add!

Tip #4: The two best free parking lots we used

There are two free parking lots I would suggest you consider using most of the time.

I already mentioned the first one which is located near the visitor center where there is a multilevel parking garage along with EV parking.

I like this because there are always empty spaces, it’s free, and it takes you to the beginning of the Riverwalk so you can enjoy a scenic walk as you head into town. It also has a pretty good view of the Stanley Hotel from the top floor.

The other free parking spot is located on Big Horn Dr.

There is a lot right behind the Himalayan Curry & Kebob restaurant but there is also free street parking there as well.

If you’re not in the mood for the walk all the way from the visitor center or you just don’t have the time then you can park there and you’ll be right in the heart of Elkhorn Avenue.

Tip #5: Use the trolley

Estes Park runs a trolley system that’s free to use.

From the Visitor Center, you can branch out to various parts of the city. The most popular trolley to use is probably the red trolley which takes you from the Visitor Center to the end of the busy part of Elkhorn Avenue.

But they have other colors that take you to different parts of the city, including places like the YMCA.

You can check out the map below which shows the trolley routes as of 2023.

Final word

There are quite a few different ways to go about parking in Estes Park. If you want to avoid paying for parking you definitely can do that by utilizing the various free lots found around the city. And if you have an electric vehicle, you’ll be happy to know that you can utilize free EV charging at some of the stations.

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