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Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
Yes
ADA accessible
Yes
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Whether a professional or amateur, it’s easy to get great pictures of the mountains enveloped in stars. Simply by using a wide-angle lens, a high ISO, a long shutter speed (and ideally a remote shutter), and a tripod, the entire nighttime world of the park opens up, creating stunning photos with an otherworldly look. Rainbow Curve, one of the most popular overlooks in a park that’s normally jam-packed with daytime visitors, becomes a solitary gallery to create beautiful imagery of the mountains surrounding the town of Estes Park.

One of the most popular outdoor travel destinations in the country, no trip to Estes Park would be complete without visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. Its soaring alpine views, abundant wildlife, and spectacular scenery are only a few of the reasons to visit. However, along with its popularity comes what can be incredibly large crowds, particluarly in the summer, and sometimes can lead to a lot of congestion on the roadways and trails.

For a one-of-a-kind experience with little to no crowds, the evening provides a perfect opportunity to see this park in a unique way. Just after the sun goes down and everybody has cleared out of the park for the day, the entire night is available for stargazing and astrophotography for those willing and interested to explore outside of the busier daytime hours.

Armed with the basics of astrophotography, there are a seemingly endless amount of overlooks and mountain vistas along Trail Ridge Road to capture with your camera. Consider driving deeper into the park and taking advantage of the lack of traffic. The farther you get away from Estes Park, the better the star viewing will be with less light pollution. Even on a night when the moon is out, the center of the Milky Way can still easily be seen with the naked eye.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Admission Fee

Pros

Nighttime is free of crowds.

Cons

Weather can change rapidly.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Features

Vault toilet
Family friendly
ADA accessible
Picnic tables
Big vistas
Historically significant
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Bird watching
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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Estes Park, Colorado is the base camp for amazing adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park and your favorite mountain getaway. Explore the Colorado Rockies. Encounter real wildlife. Whether you are planning a romantic weekend or the family vacation of a lifetime, Estes Park has the eventslodging and activities to create the perfect escape from the everyday. So, go ahead. Start planning today to experience Estes Park tomorrow.

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