by Lisa Mercer

Estes Park Dog ParkColoradans, in case you haven’t noticed, love their dogs. Estes Park is no exception to the rule. Many of the local vacation rentals even allow pets. But when you visit, don’t worry about leaving your dog home alone. Estes Park has plenty of dog-friendly activities.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Safety rules prevent you from bringing your dog on the backcountry trails at the Rocky Mountain National Park. The smells of other wildlife that dwells in the park may be too tempting for your dog and for the local creatures as well. The deer, elk, sheep and marmots might consider your dog an intruder. The local mountain lions and coyotes would consider him lunch. However, you can bring your dog to the picnic areas, or drive around the park with your dog in the car. Dogs on leash can accompany you to the adjacent Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. The North Fork Trail, the Lions Gulch Homestead Meadows Trail and the Round Mountain Trail are pet friendly.

Dog Park

The Estes Valley Dog Park has two fenced in areas, so if an alpha dog decides that “this park ain’t big enough for the two of us,” you can simply move to the other side. Agility training equipment is available, and during the summer. Water-loving dogs have access to the lake.

Restaurants

Some of the Estes Park restaurants allow your dog to sit with you on a warm spring or summer’s day. Molly B., for example, serves a combination of vegetarian and Tex-Mex inspired entrees. The restaurant, located at 200 Moraine Avenue, is famous for its homemade granola. Dogs can also sit outside with you at the Grumpy Gringo, located at 1560 Big Thompson Avenue. The restaurant specializes in fajitas and margaritas. Notchtop Bakery and Café, located at 459 Wonderview, is open for breakfast and lunch, and has an outdoor seating area for humans and their canine companions. Every good dog deserves treats, and grandma knows it. That’s why Grandma’s Mountain Cookies, located at 217 West Elkhorn Avenue, makes a special cookie just for dogs.

Pet Sitting

Consider Linda’s Pet Care Services, located at 841 Dunraven Street, when you want to spend a day in the backcountry. The service offers daycare and overnight boarding. Rather than closed in kennels, she offers lodge open spaces, where dogs can play, get to know each other and make new friends.

Don’t leave your pets at home. Take them with you on your Estes Park vacation.