Top 10 Reasons to Expand Your Rocky Mountain National Park Vacation Through Loveland this Summer
The Rocky Mountains are calling and with U.S. Highway 34 reopening between Loveland and Estes Park this Memorial Day weekend (May 24 at 4 p.m. to be exact,) travelers can rediscover hidden gems, check out new offerings and stop in local mom-and-pop businesses west of Loveland and through the Canyon. Loveland’s proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park (35 minutes), abundant activities, affordable hotels and easy access to fun in surrounding areas makes Loveland the ideal base camp for your Rocky Mountain adventures. As you plan your mountain summer getaway, expand your trip through Loveland with this top 10 – with a bonus.
Outdoor Beauty and Experiences
- Big Thompson Canyon – One of the most scenic canyon drives in the state of Colorado, Big Thompson Canyon follows the river as it weaves through the Rocky Mountains up to Estes Park. It is not uncommon to see cars pulled to the side of the canyon taking photos of wildlife such as bighorn sheep, mule deer and elk grazing or crossing the highway. Its beauty attracts visitors from all over the world.
- Devil’s Backbone – With 12-miles of trails that connect to Rimrock Open Space and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Devil’s Backbone west of Loveland provides a great hiking or mountain biking experience for beginners, families and dog-lovers (just leash and pick up). Find the keyhole for beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains and the perfect picturesque place for group photo or selfie.
- Lake Livin’ – With Boyd Lake State Park, Carter Lake, Lake Loveland Swim Beach just to name a few – water babies have a home in Loveland. Cool off this summer and take a dip. Boating, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, swimming and more are available throughout the city.
- Giddy up at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch – Following the 2013 Big Thompson flood, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch’s spirit has never been more resilient. Family-owned and family-centric, Sylvan Dale is the perfect Colorado dude ranch getaway. Bonus – the ranch is the lowest elevation dude ranch in Colorado and the closest to Denver International Airport.
Top Art/Culture Activities
- Fun Festivals – Corn Roast Festival, Cherry Pie Festival, Gnarly Barley Brew Festival, ARISE Music Festival – from music and culture to food and beer, festival fun happens all summer in Loveland.
- Travel to New Worlds through Sculpture – Take a trip to the jungle, back in time or to Zimbabwe with Loveland’s sculpture scene. Benson Sculpture Garden has one of the largest collections of sculpture on display in the U.S., and has provided a beautiful and unique outdoor setting for showcasing sculpture since 1985. Currently, there are 158 pieces of beautiful sculpture on permanent display, each telling a unique story. A sanctuary from the everyday, the 26-acre Chapungu (pronounced cha-poon-goo) Sculpture Park is the only permanent exhibit of its kind in the U.S. The public park features 82 African stone sculptures carved by artists from Zimbabwe positioned among water features and a 1.5 mile walking trail.
- Feel the Beat – In Loveland, we don’t let Colorado’s abundant sunshine go to waste. Mix culture and nature with summertime fun swaying to the music in the summer sun or under the stars at any of our outdoor concert venues. Grab your picnic blankets and folding chairs and head to Foote Lagoon, the Sounds of Centerra or Thunder Mountain Amphitheatre.
Iconic #OnlyInLoveland Destinations
- Downtown District – From local boutiques and art galleries to lively theater, restaurants, breweries and entertainment play places. The Flipside, a pinball arcade, serves up fun and delicious drinks; Downtown Sound has all of your vinyl favorites; Home & Hearth meets your kitchen and home design needs, and Mo Betta Gumbo spices up every meal.
- Sip and Savor at Sweetheart Winery – Loveland’s winery has been open for just a year but has turned into a hotspot for wine lovers to indulge their senses with a range of wine varietals. From big, bold reds to crisp, bright whites, experience the flavors at the heart of Sweetheart Winery. Outdoor seating brings refreshing sounds from the Big Thompson River that runs near the winery and visitors can revel in gorgeous Rocky Mountain views.
- The Dam Store – The iconic Dam Store is a must stop destination along U.S. 34 in west Loveland, just before Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park. The store has bounced back gracefully following the 2013 flood. Since 1969, this family owned and operated business has been known for its eclectic mix of T-shirts, gifts, jewelry, moccasins and of course, buffalo jerky. They have recently brought in “Made in Colorado” and local artists sections.
- Sweet Treats – Sunny Jim’s Candy Ranch goodies are made fresh daily in their kitchen the old-fashioned way. They use time-tested recipes that go back nearly a century. Be sure to try the Rocky Mountain Frogs or the Olde Tyme English Toffee. The shop is just west of Devil’s Backbone on West US 34. Beat the summer heat with Dairy Delite, open summer through fall. Known for their delicious ice cream treats, the restaurant offers food and delicious burgers as well. This family-friendly, family-owned business is a nice rest stop on your way back down Big Thompson Canyon from a day of hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Create your own Loveland adventure now.