Hidden Summer Activities in Estes Park for Children 0-5

Are you looking for activities in Estes Park that are unique for your younger child? We love story time, the tram, getting an ice cream downtown, or checking out the new community center, but there’s an entire summer full of days to fill with activities! EVICS has compiled a list of activities that are “off the beaten path” that are free, or cheap, and provide a new experiences to Estes Park locals and visitors. Please comment if you have additional hidden summer activities!

Storybook Trail

Head to Stanley Park and venture toward the bike path on the eastern side of the playground. Follow the panels along the trail that carry you through a children’s book. The experience combines the joy of reading with getting outdoors. The Storybook Trail is a gift to the community for local families and visitors. Many thanks to its generous sponsors: the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Estes Park Rotary Club. It is made possible through a partnership of Estes Valley Library and Estes Valley Recreation and Park District.

Picnic at Riverside/Baldwin Park

An off the beaten path park, the Riverside Park near the Post Office boasts a large grassy area (one of the few in Estes Park). Right along the river, there is a small playground and picnic tables. Or bring a blanket and lunch for a great picnic!

 Bicycle Pump Track

EPCC photo of the new pump track!

Get the Strider bike out and hit the trail! The perimeter trail of the pump track at Stanley Park was recently completed through donations and the Estes Park Cycling Coalition. There is also a small skate park nearby! It is recommended that children be 3-5 years old for the trail. Remember to wear a helmet!

Lake Estes Marina

Bring the shovel and pail and lather on the sunscreen! Play at the Marina playground, wade into the (cold) water, and play in the sand. If you want to get out on the water, rent kayaks, paddle boards, paddle boats, canoes, pontoon boats, bikes, pedal carts, and rods and reels. Open from May to early October.

Feed the ducks

Head over to Coffee on the Rocks to feed the ducks at their peaceful, well landscaped pond. Stop inside to get a nice coffee, pastry, or sandwich. Be sure to head inside and purchase their duck food (corn) as they don’t like you feeding them bread.

See the stars at the Estes Park Memorial Observatory

Check their schedule for open house nights or their educational lectures.

Fish Creek trail bike ride

Biking along the Fish Creek trail.

Head to what the locals fondly call “Broccoli Park” off of HWY 7 and Carriage Drive. Park at the playground and access the bike trail heading east where you’ll meet up with the Fish Creek bike trail. This trail will take you all the way to Stanley Park, to Lake Estes, or all the way to downtown Estes Park. Remember, you cannot ride on the Riverwalk once you’ve accessed downtown so please walk your bikes! The entire loop is quite flat and appropriate for new bikers or adults with bike trailers.

Explore the Knoll

Across from the Stanley Hotel on Wonderview Ave, you will find a small parking lot that accesses a short trail system to the top of the knoll where you will find remnants of an old home. Along the trails there are many spots for exploration and benches to soak in the view of downtown Estes Park and Longs Peak. A short walk and tons of exploration- perfect for little ones!

Casey’s Train

Historic photo of Casey’s Train.

Ride the Silver Streak “Casey’s Train” miniature train through a historical landscape! Casey’s Train is an historical activity dating back to mid-1900’s when Phil “Casey” Martin would offer rides in downtown Estes Park. Nowadays, head to Ride-A-Kart (2250 Big Thompson Ave) where you’ll find Casey’s Train, bumper cars, go karts, mini golf, and so much more. $3.00 per ride for all ages. Infants sitting on laps are free.

Climbing Park at Performance Park

Some of the more difficult climbing at the Climbing Park.

Great climbing for beginners and young children. The Climbing Park located at the west end of Elkhorn Avenue is very accessible as it sits right behind the Performance Park stage. Climbing routes vary allowing for fun for all ages and levels.  The easier routes located behind the stage and get harder as you move along the rock closer to the river.

Mom and dad showing 3 year old Lo how to climb.

Not Estes Park, but worth the drive- Lyons Laverne M. Johnson Park

Located in nearby community, Lyons CO is a 20-minute drive from Estes Park. The Laverne M. Johnson Park was newly established after the 2013 floods and boasts a splash pad, river access, zip line, tree house, and much more! Picnic tables and bathroom amenities make it a perfect stop for a full day of fun! $5 park fee

EVICS Playgroup Update

As spring comes to an end and with summer right around the corner, staff at EVICS are busy planning for future programming and new initiatives. We are constantly evaluating the impact of our programs and identifying opportunities for growth and improvement. As we began looking at our playgroup structure and delivery we have decided to make a few changes to our weekly group. Starting in June we will no longer be offering a structured weekly playgroup time. Many families come regularly to our groups and we would encourage you to continue to meet informally at the same time 10-11 on Wednesdays to keep the routine for you and your child. In the summer, Stanley Park is a great place to meet up! This will allow you to maintain your social connections you have made with other parents and their children. This form of socialization from birth on, is critical to your child’s development. EVICS staff will host one playgroup each month during the summer, which will have a more focused format and specific skill exploration. These playgroups will be held at Stanley Park in the small shelter near the playground on Wednesdays from 10-11. Here’s the schedule for the summer:

            June 27th Art in the Park

            July 25th Water Play

            August 29th Block Party

In September playgroups will be managed by EVRPD and will resume in the Community Center featuring some new programming options and experiences! We’ll communicate the specific changes as they evolve. If you have questions or concerns about this information, please don’t hesitate to reach out and talk with one of our staff members at 970586-3055.



Incredible Years! Free Parenting Class

Have you ever considered that more training is required to obtain a driver’s license than to become a parent? Because kids don’t come with instruction guides—EVICS is partnering up with SummitStone Health Partners to offer a FREE 6-week series of parenting classes for families of children ages 3-6! The Incredible Years is an evidence-based program backed by 30 years of research. Parents will learn practical tips, information and new research on how to support children’s social/emotional development and prevent challenging behaviors. Why do children do the things they do and how can parents respond in a way that promotes positive behaviors? Children who develop healthy social and emotional skills early in life are better prepared for school and life success.
The class will meet at the Estes Valley Community Center – lower level classroom, on Wednesday evenings, 5:30-7:30, June 6 – July 11 (No class on July 4) Class instructor is Corinna Crandall, Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant. Childcare is provided! Ages 1-4 will enjoy playtime in the CubzDen (cost: $4 per child, half price for 2nd child), and children ages 5 and over will enjoy supervised play time in the gym at no cost. Dinner will be provided for parents and children. Families who attend all 6 sessions will receive a $50 Safeway Gift Card.

Registration is required. Please contact:
EVICS at 586-3055/ office@evics.org
OR Corinna Crandall at 970-342-5325 Corinna.crandall@summitstonehealth.org

Early Childhood Educators Receive a Mindful Professional Development Day   

The YMCA of the Rockies offered a beautiful setting for the EVICS 9th Annual Estes Park Early Childhood Conference on April 21. The day focused on mental health, wellness, and mindfulness for Early Childhood Professionals and the children in their care, encouraging providers to take care of themselves so they can care for children. Forecasts for heavy snow made travels worrisome but did not deter the nearly 60 early childhood professionals from Estes Park and across the Front Range, who braved the weather and came together for a day of learning, networking, reflection, and fun. Conference keynote speaker, Kelly Burns, set the tone for the day discussing sustainable mindfulness practices for the classroom. Kelly offered an experiential understanding of the latest neuroscience on mindfulness in the classroom. Many educators and childcare providers reach burn out because they do not have practices like Kelly discussed, including reflection, meditation, and being present throughout the day. Integrating mindfulness techniques into your day provides sustainable and manageable leadership in the childcare or teaching setting.  Additional presenters throughout the day built upon this message and included play therapists, mental health professionals, nutritionists, and teachers and instructional coaches. Morning yoga and lunch time meditation allowed attendees to take time to take care of themselves throughout the day.

Attendees ranged from infant and toddler family child care providers to elementary school teachers and other specialists. Conference evaluations clearly indicated that the Estes Park Conference was a big success this year!  Many thanks to the YMCA of the Rockies for their partnership and generous donation of beautiful meeting facilities, and to Poppy’s Restaurant, the Donut Haus, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for providing excellent food and treats. Thanks also goes out to the many Estes Park businesses that donated great door prizes, including the Ridgeline Hotel and Latitude 105 and Rock Cut Brewing Company- a long standing and popular tradition of this conference!

Estes Valley Investment in Childhood Success (EVICS) is a non-profit agency working to support and promote quality early care and education for all children in the Estes Valley.  Donations to the organization are 100% tax deductible and volunteers are needed for a variety of activities and committees.  For more information please contact EVICS: office@evics.org   970-586-3055