There is nothing as beautiful and the crisp blue sky and warm sun over the snow kissed mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Explore the heights on snowshoes or cross-country skis, and at lower elevations – even in hiking boots! Elk, coyote, deer, snowshoe hares, raptors and other wildlife remain active through the winter. Breathtaking scenery, amazing snow-enhanced vistas and clean fresh air await the prepared winter visitor.
Adventurers don’t have to go it alone. There are several Ranger-led programs available — all included in the regular park entrance fee.
For beginners, Ranger-led snowshoe ecology walks are available on the east side of the park, and for beginners and intermediates as well as cross-country skiers on the west side.
The beginner snowshoe program is a two-hour exploration of the natural world of the subalpine forest. No previous snowshoe experience is required. On the east side, this walk is held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. through March 23. The beginner snowshoe tour on the west side is held on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. through March 8. The intermediate snowshoe program is a two-hour snowshoe walk offered on the west side of the park on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. through March 9. Previous snowshoeing experience is recommended because of the elevation gain, mileage, pace and terrain covered in this program.
Ranger-led cross-country ski tours are offered on the west side of the park on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. through January 25. Participants ski a snow-draped landscape and learn about the Kawuneeche Valley.
For a romantic outing, Full Moon Walks are offered on the east side of the park on January 15, February 14 and March 16. Times and locations will vary each month. Reservations are necessary and may be made up to seven days in advance by calling (970) 586-1206.
Reservations are required for all Ranger-led snowshoe walks and ski tours. Reservations can be made up to seven days prior to the desired program. Participants must be at least 8 years old and must furnish their own equipment, including poles with baskets. To make reservations for east side snowshoe walks, call the RMNP Information Office at (970) 586-1206. To make reservations for west side snowshoe walks and ski tours, call the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at (970) 627-3471. Please call between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily. Equipment rentals are available at Estes Park Mountain Shop http://www.estesparkmountainshop.com/ and The Warming House http://www.warminghouse.com/
Sledding and sliding activities can be enjoyed at the Hidden Valley area. Hidden Valley slopes have been contoured to enhance sledding and snow-play safety. Facilities at Hidden Valley include a warming hut, which is open weekends, and heated 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.
Winter camping is available at the Moraine Park Campground which is open all winter at $14 per site per night. Water and dump stations are not available in winter. Self-registration permits for backcountry camping in winter zones are also available. There is no charge in the winter for backcountry camping. Backcountry users should be aware of avalanche conditions. Always check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website at http://avalanche.state.co.us before an adventure.
Podcasts on Winter Recreation and Introduction to Snowshoeing can be found on the park website at http://www.nps.gov/romo/photosmultimedia/roaming_rocky.htm
Remember – be prepared and be safe. Whenever visiting Rocky Mountain National Park to snowshoe, ski, hike, or camp stop by a park visitor center or call (970) 586-1206 for current road and snow conditions.