Estes-Park.com Blog

Top 5 Winter Activities in Estes Park & Rocky Mountain National Park

Winter Snowshoe

Though the winter season clearly requires more clothing and planning for weather logistics, it really is an ideal time to visit Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park!  One of the best things about the winter season is the unparalled peace you can find in nature while the earth is blanketed in snow.  And because many people are intimidated by going out in colder weather, you will not have to deal with the crowds that the summer season brings to the park.  People "in the know" understand that with extra layers of winter clothing you can be quite comfortable even in below freezing temperatures.  Imagine spending the day in the park and coming back to a cozy lodge with a fireplace and hot tub (try our Feature Finder to find a place with both)! 

Here are our top 5 favorite winter activities around Estes Park:

1.  Take a Winter Ecology Walk led by a park ranger.  Anyone 8 and older can do it, and you will love the views and all that you learn! 

2.  If you can walk, you can snowshoe! Renting snowshoes is very affordable, and there are several places in town that can help you.  Here's one we recommend.

3.  Want a real adventure, but don't want to do all the planning? This Inn to Inn Snowshoe tour will take you on an outdoor adventure of a lifetime, with 2 days of guided snowshoeing, 3 fun and very different lodges, and the very best in fine dining and relaxation! 

4.  Do a Winter Field Seminar with the Rocky Mountain Nature Association.  You can learn about sub-alpine ecology on cross country skis, learn to take better winter photos that optimize the lighting and snow, take a beginning water color class, or learn all about coyotes "The Song Dogs of the West" to name a few! 

5.  Full Moon Walks are another great outdoor activity in winter that the whole family can enjoy.  Join a Ranger to explore the Park under the light of the full moon on Nov. 17, Dec. 17, Jan. 15, Feb. 14, and Mar. 16.  Reservations are necessary  - call (970) 586-1223 to reserve a spot. 

Come join us for winter fun! 

Catch the Glow Parade - Celebrate the Holidays in Estes Park!

Catch the Glow on Santas Lap One of our most favorite holiday activities is heading to Estes Park for the annual Catch the Glow Parade.  The day after Thanksgiving, with bellies still full of delicious food, and our thought full of gratitude for the blessings in our lives, we head up the mountain to welcome the Christmas season as a family.  Rather than focusing on the hustle and bustle of commercialism on Black Friday, this tradition focuses on the magic and wonder of the season.

Starting at noon, there are free activities that kids young and old will enjoy: hay rides thru Estes Park, visits with Santa Claus, holiday music that sets the scene, and holiday characters (like Frosty the Snowman) strolling around town.  Another favorite activity is heading to the ice rink! It’s great to take a few spins on the ice together, and for some reason it always makes us feel like a kid again.  Last year we enjoyed the fact that there were free cookies and hot chocolate provided by the town that warmed us up after ice skating. 

Estes Park ice Rink

This is a photo of the parade route around 2:30 pm (last year). 

Catch the Glow Parade Route

All the spots along the curb are staked out, so if you are keen on having the best viewing for the parade, be sure to get there early to save a place!

At 5:30 pm the streets come alive with an old fashioned parade.  Thousands of twinkling lights, favorite holiday characters, carolers, brass bands, woodland creatures, baton twirlers, rodeo queens, and fantastic floats parade through downtown in the moonlight.  It’s really something to behold!

Catch the Glow Parade Float  

With Hwy 36 open, it’s really quite easy to get here too! 

If you want to make a weekend of it, plenty of local lodges are offering special packages for this wonderful family event, as well as a selection of restaurants in town that will do all the cooking for you! Click here for lodging specials