The Ultimate Winter Road Trip Around Rocky Mountain National Park
Winter day near Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, CO. Photo Credit: blilienfeld (iStock)
Colorado is so big and beautiful, if you have a spare weekend, it’s best to pick just one place to explore. While you could spend weeks exploring this incredible landscape, we’ve rounded up some of the best winter activities for a two day winter road trip around Rocky Mountain National Park.
Explore Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park
Wake up early and head to Rocky Mountain National Park for a full day outside in some of Colorado’s most beautiful and dramatic mountains. Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best ways to explore, so hit classic trailheads like Bear Lake, Glacier Gorge, and Black Lake Trail.
After warming up with a morning hike, gear up for Hidden Valley, an old ski area off Trail Ridge Road and the only place in Rocky Mountain National Park where sledding is permitted. Spend your afternoon enjoying high-speed thrills with stunning mountain views. Visitors can rent or buy sleds and tubes in town.
While you’re in town, make sure to stop in the town of Estes Park and stroll along Elkhorn Avenue for some good shopping and a bite to eat for lunch or dinner. Big Horn Restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and American fare. For a good slice of pizza, check out Antonio’s Real New York Pizza or Ed’s Cantina & Grill for Mexican inspired fare.
Why rush a perfect weekend? Take some much needed rest and relaxation time by spending the night at YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center, a cozy, welcoming lodging destination. Their cabins and vacation homes are comfortable and rustic and situated in the perfect spot for tomorrow’s outdoor adventures. Lodge Rooms offer an affordable option to explore Estes Park. They also offer amazing accommodation specials for YMCA members, military servicemen, and more.
If you’re ready to take your mountain skills to the next level, plan your visit for March 1-4, 2018 for YMCA of the Rockies’ Family Winter Mountaineering and Backcountry Weekend. You can expect guided winter ecology snowshoe hikes, outdoor winter survival training, and excursions for all levels of experience.
Play in the Snow
YMCA of the Rockies is an ideal place to experience all winter has to offer. If you enjoy hiking, snowshoeing through Rocky Mountain National Park might just be your next favorite activity. YMCA of the Rockies offers expert guided hikes, so you can learn about the natural landmarks and history of the park while improving your skills. Snowshoes are for available to rent at the Sweet Memorial Program Building.
Another beautiful way to enjoy the outdoors is to go for a skate at Dorsey Lake, an open-air natural pond at YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center with a beautiful alpine backdrop. Ice skates are available for rent and are free to guests staying at the YMCA.
Warm up inside at the Dorsey Museum, a 1924 guest lodge and a 1905 log cabin on the Center’s site. The museum is a great way to immerse yourself in the history of the Rocky Mountain National Park region. You’ll find period room settings and accommodations from the early to mid-1900s in addition to lots of engaging information about the area’s first mountaineers and pioneers.
To finish up the trip, take a sunset drive on the Peak-to-Peak Highway to Nederland, an old mining town known for its unique festivals and beautiful views. Enjoy mountain skylines and keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife known to come out at dusk along the Scenic Byway. After all that outdoor activity, you’re probably in need of some warming up and refreshment. Head to Salto Coffee Works for a warm cup of cocoa, a cold beer, or a glass of wine and some food. Check the event schedule at Salto Coffee Works so you can catch some live music on your way through town.