It is winter, and a thick layer of snow has blanketed the trails and mountains. In Estes Park, this doesn’t mean the end for outdoor adventures. In fact, some of the most exciting activities in and around Estes Park are just beginning with the arrival of winter! Take advantage of the snow coverage with an Estes Park skiing journey this winter!
You don’t have to be an expert on the slopes in order to enjoy a ski vacation in Estes Park. From challenging terrain parks to gentle beginner slopes to the gently rolling terrain of cross-country trails, there’s a trail for every level of skiing ability in Estes Park.
Day 1: Downhill Estes Park Skiing or Snowboarding at Eldora
While there are no downhill skiing options located right within Estes Park, the ski area of Eldora is approximately an hour away, making the perfect day trip. Save time and money by picking up your ski or snowboard rental gear the evening before in Estes Park so you can hit the slopes right when you arrive in Eldora. Eldora Ski Resort offers 680 acres of skiable terrain, from gentle slopes perfect for beginners to double black diamonds off the Corona lift. If you’re new to the sport of skiing, no problem. Eldora offers private and group lessons for both children and adults, with patient, knowledgeable instructors helping you learn at any age!
Day 2: Cross Country Ski on a Scenic Trail
Estes Park and the surrounding areas offer miles of skiable terrain for cross country skiers. Whether you venture down a lone forest path or on a scenic route around an alpine lake, there are miles of scenic views to enjoy by skiing. Cross country skiing in Estes Park combines the joy and serenity of exploring Estes Park’s trails with the added benefit of getting in a great workout! A good starting point for beginners is the flat, scenic 3.3-mile Sprague Lake Glacier Basin Campground Loop. Trail Ridge Road, which is closed to traffic in winter, is also a good option for beginners as it offers a wide path with few obstacles to contend with. Several outdoor shops in Estes Park can get you outfitted with all the gear you’ll need!
Day 3: Snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park
Enjoyment of Rocky Mountain National Park’s trails continues in winter, with many adventurers strapping on a pair of snowshoes. While it’s technically not skiing, snowshoes offer a way for the whole family to enjoy the snow with an easy learning curve. Trails within Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt National Forest, and around Estes Park offer endless opportunities for exploration from beginning distances to long, tough terrain. Beginners can start with the scenic Bear Lake Loop, a 0.7-mile loop with beautiful mountain views. Again, Estes Park’s outdoor shops can get you outfitted and ready for this popular winter activity!
Day 4: Backcountry Ski in Rocky Mountain National Park
While Rocky Mountain National Park used to operate the Hidden Valley ski area within its park bounds, this area which no longer offers chair lifts has become an outdoor playground for backcountry skiers. 1,200 skiable acres offer rugged, untouched terrain for experienced skiers and snowboarders. For those with a high fitness level who can make it above the tree line, advanced runs await. Beginner and intermediate skiers will find suitable runs along the lower portion. The peaks around Bear Lake are also known for their quality backcountry skiing terrain, although this area is better left for those who are advanced in the sport. Whether tackling beginner or advanced runs, backcountry skiers should be aware and prepared for unpredictable hazards such as avalanches, quick changes in weather, cliffs, and rock fall. For those new to backcountry skiing and snowboarding and would rather not go it alone, there are a handful of outdoor operators in the area who offer guides into the backcountry. Companies such as Colorado Wilderness Rides & Guides offer customized backcountry excursions led by experienced guides who will help you discover amazing ski locations and educate you on backcountry safety so you’ll be ready for your next backcountry adventure!
Day 5: Enjoy Other Great Estes Park Winter Activities
Even on a ski vacation, you may find yourself wanting a break from the slopes. The good news is that in Estes Park, skiing isn’t the only way to enjoy the winter weather! Whether you’re a family traveling with children or you’re on a romantic getaway, discover some of the other great winter activities in Estes Park to vary the itinerary!
Within Rocky Mountain National Park’s Hidden Valley ski area, you’ll not only find opportunities for adventurous back country skiing, but also family-friendly sledding. The former ski park’s lower hills have been converted into an area where sledding is permitted. The slopes have been reconstructed in order to be more sled-friendly, and here you’ll find children and adults alike enjoying the old-fashioned thrill of rushing down a hill at top speed aboard a sled or tube. Heated restrooms are open daily, and a warming hut is also open on the weekends. Sled rentals are available at Estes Park outdoor shops such as Estes Park Mountain Shop. Within these well-equipped gear shops, you’ll also find everything else needed for a day of fun in the snow, such as coats, boots, mittens, and snow pants.
Another great winter activity in Estes Park that’s suitable for families is ice skating. The YMCA of the Rockies has a mountain lake situated on its grounds, perfect for a day of outdoor ice skating. Conditions are usually good from December to February, and skate rentals are available onsite at the Sweet Memorial Program Building. Bundle up the kids and bring them along for a day of fun on the ice, which is especially beautiful in this outdoor setting. While ice skating does have somewhat of a learning curve, those who have had some success in roller blading or roller skating will catch right on, enjoying a day of wintry fun!
For those looking for a more thrilling adventure in the snow, Backbone Adventures offers snowmobile and razor rentals. Enjoy exploring the beautiful snow-covered terrain around Estes Park from atop a snowmobile or razor, adding an unforgettable element of fun to your winter trip! These adventure vehicles are available for rent for half-days, with rides taking place between 10am-1pm. Using a snowmobile or razor to adventure along Estes Park’s trails and snow-covered roads is a great activity for a group of friends or an adventurous couple when you’re ready to take a break from skiing on your winter journey to Estes Park!
Book Your Estes Park Ski Cabin Here!
If you want to spend time enjoying a mix of activities that include both skiing and exploring the snow-covered trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, then booking one of our cabins along Lake Estes is an excellent choice! Basing yourself in Estes Park provides access to a wide range of activities, including day trips for skiing in Eldora. After a day of fun in the snow, our warm winter cabins provide a welcome return. Our 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom cabins are perfect for a family ski trip to Estes Park. With both an indoor and outdoor grand stone fireplace, there are multiple options for warming up after a day in the snow. The outdoor hot tub offers another element of warmth on cold winter evenings. Plan your winter getaway to Estes Park, where we find many ways to have fun in the snow! Browse our listings and contact us with questions or book online here!