Estes Park Winter Festival & Winter Trails Day - a Great Way to Experience the Fun of Winter in the Mountains!

For the past 3 years, the town of Estes Park has hosted the Estes Park Winter Festival over the Martin Luther King, Jr weekend.  It has grown into a really fun celebration of what makes Estes Park great: great food, music, & art, family friendly activities, together with stunning mountain vistas.  We love the way it draws people from all walks of life into the fresh mountain air.  Here are some photos we took yesterday:Folks enjoying the chilic cook-off and wine, beer, and cheese tasting in the heated tent.

Folks were really enjoying walking around in the heated tent: tasting beer, wine & cheese and weighing in on the chili cook-off! 

There is an awesome synthetic ice rink that allows for skating in any weather!

People young and old enjoying the outdoor synthetic ice rink.  No matter what the temperature outside, the ice rink is open for fun!

What kid could resist this Candy Land themed ice castle and slides?

This Candy Land themed Ice Castle is a feast for the eyes, and kids can explore and play on the slides!

Wonderful live music enhances the festive atmosphere at the Estes Park Winter Festival!

The Estes Park Winter Festival has live music throughout the weekend.  The variety of musical artists makes for a festive atmosphere.

 Children love the pony rides

Your kids will love the pony rides.  It's a safe way for them to enjoy their first mountain horseback ride, and perhaps inspire many outdoor adventures in Estes Park!

A little one says thank you to the horse after a fun sleigh ride!

This sweet little girls gives a "thank you" pat to the horse that has just pulled a sleigh ride.  What a way to enjoy the quintessential winter activity, in a "one horse open sleigh" (or two horse, as the case may be)!

For outdoor enthusiasts, the weekend also coincides with Winter Trails Day in Rocky Mountain National Park (now in its 17th year!).  On this day, several vendors set up booths inside RMNP to provide free snowshoe demos to the public.  You can get expert advice on fitting snowshoes, try out the different models to see what works best for you, and get great tips on new ways to enjoy the outdoors in winter from the best in the field.  You can also participate in educational clinics on winter activity basics, safety techniques, nutrition and hydration tips, essential conditioning exercises and how to dress for winter hiking and camping.  Since Winter Trails Day is sponsored by REI, the Estes Area Lodging Assoc., and the Winter Trails Organization, there is no charge for this event and there will be no charge for Park Entrance during the weekend.

 A great crowd showed up to try out snowshoeing.

What a great turnout!  People of all kinds were trying out snowshoes and learning about great outdoor winter activities.  The youngest participant was only two years old.  Truly anyone can learn to snowshoe.

 Checking out the trailhead signs in Rocky Mountain National Park 

The Bierstadt Trailhead was right next to the demo tents, so people could easily get a feel for the different snowshoes on real trails.  Rocky Mountain National Park doesn't charge entrance fees during this event!

People getting their stride on snowshoes!

A shot of people getting their stride on snowshoes under blue skies - what a perfect day!Search and Rescue offering their expert tips on how to safely enjoy winter activity in Rocky Mountain National Park.

One of the many educational mini-seminars by Search and Rescue on how to safely enjoy the outdoors during the winter. 

There's still time to head on up to Estes Park for the Winter Festival!  Be sure to mark your calendars for next year too, it's a weekend not to be missed.