This post is part of Just Ahead’s Rocky Mountain National Park Trip Planner—our guide to everything you need to know to plan your trip to Rocky Mountain. Click here to see the complete series, and be sure to download our Just Ahead smartphone audio tour of Rocky Mountain before you head to the park.
Unlike most large national parks, Rocky Mountain has no in-park lodging. So where to stay in Rocky Mountain? Your best bets are its two gateway towns—Estes Park to the east and Grand Lake to the west. Both offer plenty of options, and it’s simple enough to commute from the towns into the heart of the park. To give you some sense of scale, Estes Park is 24 miles from the Alpine Visitor Center near the summit of Trail Ridge Road in the heart of the park. Grand Lake is 22 miles from the Alpine Visitor Center. Remember, Just Ahead guides you to and from both towns and throughout Rocky Mountain National Park.
Lodging in Estes Park
Estes Park, just east of Rocky Mountain National Park, is best known for the Stanley Hotel. The historic and distinctive 1909 lodge is best known for having inspired Stephen King’s novel The Shining. Contrary to rumor, the film of the same name was not filmed in the Stanley.
Estes Park has many other offerings, ranging from rustic cabins to luxurious inns. For a complete list, visit the Estes Park lodging website.
There’s one additional option: renting an RV and camping in the park. Estes Park RV Rentals makes this easy. They’ll even tow a trailer to your campground of choice and pick it up when you’re ready to leave. For information on camping in the park, see our post Where Should I Camp in Rocky Mountain National Park?
Lodging in Grand Lake
Grand Lake, eight miles from the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, has lakeside lodging, cabins in the woods, motels, bed and breakfasts, and hotels. The town is perched on the shores of two magnificent lakes, Shadow Mountain Lake and Grand Lake. For a complete listing of Grand Lake lodging, visit the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce website. Grand Lake does not have an RV rental outlet, but you can always check with Outdoorsy, which is something like Airbnb for RV rentals.