Although the pace in Estes Park slows when the snow flies, the adventures continue. More and more families are discovering that winter hiking can be great fun, especially when the snow is fluffy and deep enough to accommodate snowshoes. Bring your own gear or rent snowshoes and poles from Estes Park gear shops, and then hit local trails. Anyone who hikes can master snowshoeing in a few minutes—grandparents and parents alike find it an enjoyable activity to share with children as young as four and five years old. Youngsters like it because they can see animal tracks in the snow and throw a few snowballs along the way. Usually, the best months to go are January through March, thanks to heavier and more frequent snows. Check out our favorite winter trails here.
Beginners or those new to the area may wish to participate in guided snowshoe treks. Several outfitters in the area offer them, often inside Rocky Mountain National Park. Dozens of trails weave across the national park, where snowshoeing is at its best. Occasionally, Ma Nature dumps enough snow at lower elevations in Estes Park to warrant snowshoeing—on those lucky days, snowshoers could try trails near Lily Mountain or break their own across the village's open spaces. Most, however, head up to the higher elevations to snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Some of the local climbing guides also offer guided trips and avalanche classes, and the local mountain shop has rental backcountry equipment. Be prepared with proper gear and knowledge before embarking on your wilderness winter adventure. Check out Teton Gravity Research's Backcountry Guide to Estes Park.
On the days that the heavy snows stick, other ski enthusiasts pull out their cross-country gear and head for the highest continuously paved highway at 12,183 feet -- Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road is conveniently closed to traffic in the winter. Check with Rocky Mountain National Park for conditions before setting out. For guests who may not have their own equipment, local outdoor gear and sporting goods stores provide rental gear for cross-country, or Nordic, skiing.
Have some people in your group that are craving groomers? Eldora Resort, is located only about an hour and a half south of Estes Park near the town of Nederland. It is an easy drive, on well-maintained highways, including a stretch along the Peak to Peak scenic byway. A perfect option for groups with some skiers or snowboarders and others who wish to stay back to snowshoe in the park or shop the village. The local mountain shop offers rental ski equipment and passes to Eldora. Make everyone happy - including your budget - by spending your "ski trip" in Estes Park.
Most sledding in Estes Park accompanies private or commercial lodging, meaning if you stay, you can play. Private rental houses might have a small hill in their yard or a lodge might sit on acres of undulating terrain perfectly suited to tubing. Although there's not a designated sledding area in Estes Park, there is one inside Rocky Mountain National Park at Hidden Valley. It makes for a great afternoon activity for families or those who are young at heart. Bring your own sled or tube, or rent one from a local outdoor gear or sporting goods store.