There is a good chance locals don’t want us to tell you this, but we’ll take the risk: Rocky Mountain National Park during wintertime is a wonderful place. Crowds are non-existent, trails desolate, and backcountry camping always available. (Might just be a little cold)
Sure, we know it’s not the summer months when a tee-shirt and shorts pass as acceptable attire, but snow-drenched Rockies glistening in early morning light, have an unique beauty only a select few get to see.
But the goodness doesn’t stop there. Colorado turns into a wintertime dream once temperatures drop and the snow starts falling. Twenty-six ski resorts, more skiable terrain than anywhere else in the U.S., and some of the best snow on earth mean plenty to do outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Exploring Rocky Mountain
Ever wondered what it was like to walk on top of fresh snow through deep gorges framed by 13,000-foot mountains? Then grab a pair of snowshoes (shops located in Estes Park and Grand Lake rent them out), and explore Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry.
Hikers on the eastern edge of the park should make a point to head out from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead on Bear Lake Road, and follow the trail 2.5-miles to Mills Lake. If you plan on hiking in the western edge of the Park, be ready for snow, and lots of it. Since storms roll in from west to east, the western edge of the park tends to get hammered. Check with backcountry rangers always before going out due to potential avalanche danger.
If skiing is your love, just remember there are no ski lifts in the Park, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some of the Rockies most scenic skiing. Cross-country and backcountry downhill are available, but high avalanche danger is probable. For some of the best backcountry skiing, research the old runs of Hidden Valley Ski Area, the only resort to have existed inside the Park from 1955 to 1991.
Have little ones who just want to play in the snow? Then head to Hidden Valley Snow Park where you and the tikes can go sledding, build snowman, and have the ultimate Calvin vs. Susie snowball fight. Of course it also is a pretty good place to bond.
Colorado and Surrounding States
Colorado is to wintertime fun, what the North Pole is to making toys. In other words, if you love skiing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, sledding, hut trips, ice skating, and anything that involves frozen water just figure Colorado is the place to be.
Must-ski resorts include, Vail, Copper Mountain, Telluride, and Steamboat. If you plan on ice climbing then Ouray is the spot to be. Other sites include routes inside the Park and by Vail. Snowmobiling is a heavily restricted sport, so make sure to check with local part service and backcountry offices before heading out. There is only a very short section of the Park on the western edge were snowmobiling is allowed. Finally, if you want to have the ultimate backcountry experience rent out a hut deep in the backcountry. Some of the most popular places include Summit County and the Never Summer Mountains.