Estes Park at dusk.

Estes Park at dusk. Estes Park Visitors and Convention Bureau, Hill Aevium, Pati Martinez

When I was a kid, vacations in our house were a big production. With eight kids in our family, it took a while to load up our 12-passenger van and make sure we didn’t forget anyone before setting out on our adventure.

Fortunately, we lived next door to one of America’s largest playgrounds, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, so my parents didn’t have far to drive.

Estes Park, Colorado, quickly became a favorite vacation spot, as it has for many families, and we visited every year. Located just 90 minutes from Denver, this town of 7,000 sits at 7,522 feet in the heart of the Rockies.