The holiday season is a great time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to beautiful scenery, wildlife viewing, and a variety of winter recreational activities to do on your own, some fun activities with park rangers are offered. Rocky Mountain National Park has a calendar full of fun family activities for the holidays.
On the east side of the park (Estes Park):
Winter Storytime -- December 26 through January 2 at 10:00 am daily. Read with a Ranger! Hear stories about the wonders of the winter season. Meet at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36) for this 30 minute program.
Skins and Skulls -- December 26 through January 1 at 2:00 pm daily. Meet Rocky's wildlife! Come to this 30 minute program at Fall River Visitor Center (located on Highway 34) for a hands-on experience.
Snowshow Ecology Walks -- December 26, January 1, and January 2 at 12:30 pm. Join a ranger for a beginner-level snowshoe tour exploring the natural world of a subalpine forest. Ages 8 years old and above. Participants will need to bring their own snowshoes which can be rented at sporting goods stores. Reservations required - call (970) 586-1223 beginning December 19.
Spirit of the Mountains -- Shown by request daily from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. See the stunning 23 minute park film at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (located on Highway 36).
On the west side of the park (Grand Lake):
Ski the Wilderness -- Join a park ranger for this 1.5 hour cross country ski tour of the Kawuneeche Valley. For ages 8 and above. December 31 at 9:30 am. Reservations required - call (970) 627-3471 beginning December 24.
Snowshoe in the Kawuneeche -- Beginner-level snowshoe tour with a ranger. December 17, 24, and 31 at 1:00 pm. Intermediate-level snowshoe tours held December 18, and January 1 at 1:00 pm. For ages 8 and above. Reservations required - call (970) 627-3471 no more than 7 days in advance.
Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and Kawuneeche Visitor Centers are open daily 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, closed December 25. They feature the free park film, bookstore, and general park information. Fall River Visitor Center is open December 26 through December 30 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm as well as weekends throughout the winter (closed December 25). Features general park information, life sized wildlife displays, a booksotre, and a discovery room where kids can touch objects and dress up as rangers, American Indians, and pionners.
For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park, and to learn about additional snowshoe and ski programs being offered after the holiday season, please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206. All park visitor centers and the Information Office will be closed on December 25.
Winter brings deep snows to Rocky Mountain National Park west of the Continental Divide, so you’ll find great snowmobiling and cross country skiing near Grand Lake. But the lighter snowfall on the east (Estes Park) side of the park often leaves low elevation trails open for hiking. Trails below 8,700 feet (2,700 m) make great winter hikes, sometimes without the aid of skis or snow shoes.
The top ten trails listed below are great hikes for winter visitors.
1) The Pool (5 mi.; 200 ft elevation gain)
2) Chasm Falls (5 mi.; 400 ft elevation gain)
3) Deer Mountain (6 mi.; 1075 ft elevation gain)
4) Gem Lake (3.2 mi.; 1000 ft elevation gain)
5) Lily Lake (1 mi.; flat)
6) Upper Beaver Meadows (3 mi.; 140 ft elevation gain)
7) Sprague Lake (.5 mi.; flat)
8) Dream Lake (good snow shoe tour – 2.2 miles to 9,900 ft; 425 ft elevation gain)
9) Cub Lake (snow shoes may be needed the last mile or so – 4.6 mi.; 540 ft elevation gain)
10) Bierstadt Lake (good show shoe tour – 4.6 miles; 566 ft elevation gain)
Trail Tips: Even for short day tours, be sure to pack gear for all types of weather (sun, snow, wind), as well as water and high energy food. The weather changes fast, and strong winds are quite common. It is essential to wear or carry windproof clothing.
Avoid hiking in deep snow. You’ll get tired fast as well as creating hazardous holes for skiers and snowshoers who follow. When conditions are icy, use crampons or ski poles for extra safety.