If you’re planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, you’re probably excited to hike to Chasm Lake or Alberta Falls. Maybe you’ve decided to drive the Old Fall River Road or Trail Ridge Road to glimpse the local wildlife. However, outside the National Park is another activity worth adding to your to-do list: a visit to Chapel on the Rock.
This picturesque location will leave you speechless as you explore the history of Camp Saint Malo. Let’s dive in!
What Is Chapel on the Rock?
The historic St. Catherine of Siena Chapel has the informal moniker of the Chapel on the Rock. This almost one-hundred-year-old structure is on a beautiful rock formation outside Allenspark, Colo. The Catholic Archdiocese of Denver operates it, and it became a historical landmark in Boulder County in 1999.
Because of its stunning location and spectacular stonework, numerous weddings occur year-round. The Chapel on the Rock has evaded fire and flooding for almost a century to stand firm as a symbol of faith in the community.
How Do You Get to Chapel on the Rock in Colorado?
Chapel on the Rock is on the property of Camp Saint Malo. You can find it by traveling along Highway 7 between Estes Park and Allenspark in north-central Colorado.
From Estes Park, it’s a 20-minute drive south on Highway 7. From Allenspark, it’s an 8-minute drive north.
History of Chapel on the Rock
In the early 1900s, William McPhee, a parishioner of the Catholic parish in Denver, owned the land that is now Camp Saint Malo. The church would often bring kids camping and hiking on his property, and during one of those visits, some campers saw a meteorite or shooting star. They found where it landed at the rock on which St. Catherine of Siena Chapel now stands.
Later, Monsignor Joseph Bosetti was inspired by Matthew 16:19: “Upon this rock, I will build my church.” After 20 years of struggling to fund the construction, he finally completed his goal in 1936 with the help of money from the Malo family.
The Malo family bought the property from the Archdiocese and renamed it Camp Saint Malo. In 1984, they closed the property and reopened it in 1987. They operated it as the St. Malo Religious Retreat and Conference Center.
Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the center in 2011, forcing its closure. Flooding then further eroded the land. They decided the ground was too unstable. The St. William’s Lodge and Chapel on the Rock are all that remain.
Is Chapel on the Rock Open to the Public?
Chapel on the Rock is open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday between 10 am-4 pm. While there, you can walk through the Heritage Center in St. William’s Lodge and learn about the property’s history.
Pope John Paul II visited in 1993, and his walking stick is in one of the displays. There’s also a gift store.
Camp Saint Malo is a popular wedding destination. Before scheduling a wedding date, the couple must agree to the wedding requirements, including a $3,000 fee, specific ceremony dates and times, and access to particular facilities.
Where to Stay Near Chapel on the Rock
When looking for places to stay near Chapel on the Rock, there are endless options. Whether you want a rustic tent camping site or a luxurious two-story house, you’ll find many choices a short distance away.
Rocky Mountain Resorts
Location: There are five cabin/cottage locations in Estes Park, as well as numerous vacation rentals in the area.
About: With 120 properties, Rocky Mountain Resorts has cabins, cottages, chalets, condos, and vacation rentals. They all feature different amenities and range in price from $110/day to $325/day. You can also search for dog-friendly accommodations as well as handicap-accessible locations.
Amenities: Because there are so many locations, each one varies. For example, if you want a hot tub, you can search for accommodations with that amenity and find 46 choices.
If you want a wood fireplace, you can search for accommodations with that amenity and see 45 to choose from. Only one property, Rocky Mountain Retreat 1A, features four bedrooms. It sleeps 14 people.
Traveler’s Tip: Check out our guide to visiting the clothing-optional Orvis Hot Springs in Colorado.
Longs Peak Campground
Location: On Highway 7, about 20 minutes south of Estes Park, is Longs Peak Campground.
About: This is a first-come, first-served tent-only campground. It’s $30 a night and is open only during the summer. Check local conditions before driving to Longs Peak Campground because it sometimes closes due to flooding.
Amenities: There are very few amenities at Longs Peak Campground. If you’re looking for a rustic camping experience, this is it. There is no potable water, but vault toilets are on-site. Campers must bring their water. However, there are food storage lockers and trash collection locations.
Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake
Location: Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains at 2120 Mary’s Lake Road in Estes Park.
About: Big rigs and tents are welcome at Mary’s Lake Campground. No matter where you are, you’ll have spectacular views of the Twin Sisters Peaks. Enjoy fly fishing in Mary’s Lake or take a hike through the Rocky Mountains National Park. There are 128 sites, including picnic tables and campfire rings.
Amenities: At Mary’s Lake Campground, guests enjoy full hook-ups, access to a dump station and propane filling station, and a camp store. There are also laundry facilities for guests and a playground for the kids. Everyone will enjoy the heated swimming pool.
Airbnbs Near Estes Park
About: Over 1,000 stays are available in the Estes Park area. The cheapest option in the area is a private room for $30 nightly in Fort Collins. If you’re willing to spend over a thousand dollars a night, there are 64 options in the Estes Park area.
If you’d like a 3-bedroom, 2-bath option for a family getaway, you’ll find over 300 options. With Airbnb, you can find numerous choices to suit your budget and needs.
Amenities: Because all rental properties are different, amenities vary.
For example, Pine Knoll Lodge sleeps eight guests in four bedrooms. It features spectacular views and three deck/patio options.
This guest suite sleeps four guests with two beds in one bedroom. It features a hot tub and dedicated workspace with high-speed internet access.
Is Chapel on the Rock Worth Visiting?
Chapel on the Rock isn’t an enormous structure, but it still feels like you’re visiting a European castle. The beautiful scenery of the Rocky Mountains, the gorgeous stonework, and the architecture of the building are breathtaking.
The next time you visit Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park, take a slight detour and spend a few hours exploring this historical landmark. Whether it’s the snowy white landscape of winter or the blooming flowers of spring, Chapel on the Rock is a picturesque location that’s postcard-worthy!
Will you add it to your bucket list?
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