Estes Park, Colorado sits at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park—a stunning setting for one of Colorado’s most charming towns. In winter, Estes Park becomes an outdoor recreation playground, full of winter fun and activities perfect for the whole family. There are endless ways to enjoy Estes Park in winter; plan a whole weekend around exploring the region by staying in one of the cozy cabins or lodge rooms at YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center, and then head out for a sledding, snowshoeing, fishing, or holiday shopping adventure. Below you’ll find just eight of the many reasons that Estes Park is an awesome winter getaway destination. Presented by YMCA of the Rockies at Estes Park

1. Go Sledding at Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park

Winter sledding - Rocky Mountain national Park - Tereza_Venn - iStock
Sledding at Hidden Valley near Estes Park is fun for the whole family. Photo Credit: Tereza_Venn (iStock)

This former ski hill off of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park offers sledders an unparalleled experienced—high speed sledding, mountain views, and family fun all combine for an unforgettable family activity. Visitors can purchase or rent sleds or tubes from one of the gear shops in the town of Estes Park. For more information, nps.gov.

2. Tour the Dorsey Museum on the Grounds of the Estes Park Center

Dorsey Museum - YMCA of the Rockies - Estes Park Center - Estes Park Colorado
The museum features period room settings and educational programming. Photo courtesy of YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center.

This educational museum has something for everyone: the museum is housed in a 1924-era lodge and includes period room settings and display galleries about the history of the Estes Park region. Additionally, the grounds include a 1905 log cabin that used to house tourists and a two-bedroom cabin that depicts accommodations and mountain life in late 1940s Estes Park. For more information, visit ymcarockies.org.

3. View wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bull Elk - rpbirdman - iStock
Bull Elk in the winter. Photo Credit: rpbirdman (iStock)

Drive the beautiful Peak-to-Peak Highway that connects Estes Park to Nederland, Colorado. This stunning Scenic Byway offers travelers the opportunity to see the wildlife that dots the snow-covered peaks that punctuate the skyline. For more information, visit codot.gov.

4. Snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park

Snowshoeing - Rocky Mountain National Park - Photo Credit NPS Natural Resources (FlickR) - OutThere Colorado
Photo Credit: NPS Natural Resources (FlickR).

If you enjoy hiking, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the winter wonderland that is the landscape surrounding Estes Park than with snowshoes. Meet your expert guide at YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center for a beautiful excursion into Rocky Mountain National Park where you’ll experience the beauty of the park and its varied terrain. YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center offers affordable snowshoe rentals at the Sweet Memorial Program Building, $10 for adults ages 13 and up, and $5 for kids ages 12 and under. For more information, visit ymcarockies.org.

5. Take a Class with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy

Rocky Mountain Conservancy - Photo Credit RiverNorthPhotography (iStock) - OutThere Colorado
Photo Credit: RiverNorthPhotography (iStock).

The Rocky Mountain Conservancy, an organization that promotes conservation of Rocky Mountain National Park and other public lands through education, offers a wide variety of classes throughout the winter. From avalanche safety to prehistoric history, tours that focus on local ecology to photography workshops, the Conservancy has something for everyone. For more information, visit rmconservancy.org.

6. Go cross-country skiing with a Park Ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park

Gearing Up - OutThere Colorado
Gearing up to go Nordic skiing. (OutThere Colorado)

Visit Rocky Mountain National Park with the people that know it best: its Park Rangers. Though reservations are required, you can enjoy a free cross-country ski tour with a ranger each who will be sure to point out important natural landmarks and teach you about some of the history of the park. For more information, visit nps.gov.

7. Ice Skate in the Open Air at Dorsey Lake or Under Cover at Upper Cookout Shelter

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Strap on your skates for some fun on Dorsey Lake! Photo Credit: siberianstock (iStock)

Ice skating in the open air on a natural pond at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely an experience to write home about. Skate on Dorsey Lake, a beautiful lake on the grounds of YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center, or choose the covered option at Upper Cookout Shelter, an area protected by an overhead pavilion. Ice skates are available for free for lodging guests and members of YMCA of the Rockies and for rent for visitors. For more information, visit ymcarockies.org.

8. Go Holiday Shopping on Elkhorn Avenue

Estes Park - Photo Credit RiverNorthPhotography (iStock) - OutThere Colorado
Photo Credit: RiverNorthPhotography (iStock).

Every Friday through December 18, 2017 is ‘Festive Fridays’, a magical time of year where shoppers can get special deals, holiday treats, and holiday spirit in downtown Estes Park. Enjoy the holiday season and find the perfect gifts for loved ones in the Estes Park winter wonderland this season. For more information, visit visitestespark.com.

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