Winter is an enchanting time to explore RMNP. Breathe deeply of the fresh, mountain air, marvel at the sunny, crystalline sky as you snowshoe, cross-country ski, and at lower elevations, hike! With the right gear and clothing, outdoor activities are exhilarating, fun and educational.
Snowshoe in the beautiful backcountry. Snowshoeing is easy to learn! Beginning or first-time snow shoe adventurers can explore the natural world of the subalpine forest with a Ranger on a two-hour snowshoe ecology walk. No previous snowshoe experience is required. Participants must furnish their own equipment, including poles with baskets, and be at least 8 years old.
From January 1 through March 21 the east side (Beaver Meadows) Ranger-led Snowshoe Ecology Walk is held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. There is no fee for the snowshoe program. The Park entrance fee applies. Reservations are required and can be made in advance, seven days or less prior to the desired program date. To make reservations for east side snowshoe walks, call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1223. Please call between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily.
Sled, board, tube or cross-country ski at Hidden Valley. Hidden Valley slopes have been contoured to enhance the safety of sledding and other snow-play activities. The gentle sledding hill is especially enjoyed by younger park visitors but don’t let that stop you – everyone can slide down a hill on a sled and have fun! Facilities at Hidden Valley include a warming hut, which is open weekends, and heated flush restrooms which are open daily. This area is also a good base location for those interested in backcountry skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the undeveloped areas in and around Hidden Valley.
If you don’t plan to pack gear, Estes Park Mountain Shop rents everything you need including snowshoes, sleds, snowboards, cross-country equipment and guides! For more information on guided tours, gear and equipment rental please visit www.estesparkmountainshop.com
Wildlife Watching. Elk, coyote, deer, snowshoe hare, fox, raptors and other wildlife remain active through the winter. Elk and Mule Deer are most active at dusk and dawn and when not cruising downtown, tend towards the meadow areas. Bighorn Sheep can be found along the Highway 34/Fall River corridor and with fair frequency, here at Boulder Brook! Birders will enjoy Steller’s jays, gray jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, magpies, woodpeckers,raptors and several other winged species who live here year-round.
Whether cruising by snowshoe, sled, on foot or by car, remember to be prepared and be safe! Always be prepared for quickly changing winter weather conditions including high winds and sudden drops in temperature. Remember the days are much shorter and navigating in winter conditions can be a challenge. A topographic map and compass or a GPS (Global Positioning System) (or both?) are strongly recommended. Keep in mind that many park trails are not marked for winter use. Both signs and the summer trails can be buried beneath snow and difficult to follow. Following other people’s tracks could get you lost. So prior planning is critical!
To help plan your RMNP adventure and wildlife watching day-trip please visit the RMNP road status website at http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/road_status.htm Before going into the park, Backcountry users should always check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website at http://avalanche.state.co.us Whenever visiting Rocky Mountain National Park to snowshoe, ski or hike, stop by a park visitor center, check in with a Ranger, or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206 for current road and snow conditions.