Is there downhill resort skiing in Estes Park? No, but Eldora Ski Resort is a beautiful 47 mile drive to the south on Hwy 7 – the Peak to Peak National Scenic Byway, about an hour and 15 minutes away from Estes. IKON Season Pass holders get unlimited access at Eldora, and the mountain caters to families and kids with ski rentals, lessons, groomed slopes and lighting for night skiing.
Eldora is in Boulder’s back yard (21 miles west of Boulder in Nederland). When you visit Estes Park and ski at Eldora, you can avoid the I-70 ski traffic and ski with the locals!
For skiing where you earn your turns, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park offer some incredible mountain terrain.
Hidden Valley – the ex-ski resort
Did you know that from 1955-1991 Hidden Valley was a ski resort operated inside Rocky Mountain National Park? The Park Service removed the lifts, nature is slowly taking over, but what is left are runs for knowledgeable backcountry skiers.
Trail Ridge Road, that lets you drive over the 12,000 ft Continental Divide in the summer, cuts through the middle of the old area. The lower area below Trail Ridge Road has beginner/intermediate terrain, and above is the steeper terrain. BUT there is no avalanche control and no ski patrol, so you need the proper gear & knowledge to stay safe. Avalanche danger is real on these slopes. Base elevation – 9500 ft. Vertical about 2,000 ft.
Although no skiing is allowed in the tubing/sledding area at Hidden Valley, AT skiers can pass through on their way up. There is ample parking, restrooms, and a warming hut at Hidden Valley.
Backcountry or AT Skiing
Ready for a new winter challenge? Whether you are an expert heading out on your own, or new to backcountry skiing and want to book a guided trip, Rocky Mountain National Park is known worldwide for some of the best and most authentic backcountry skiing and boarding available. Local outfitters rent gear, provide avalanche training and offer guided excursions.
Alpine Touring Gear, mountain guides, and advice on ice climbing can be found at local shops. Colorado Mountain School teaches AIARE and Companion Rescue courses.
Hidden Valley in RMNP offers well established skin tracks, open tree cuts and the ability to lap runs until your legs give out.
In January 2017 a self-service Avalanche Beacon Training Park was added at Hidden Valley so skiers can practice their beacon locating skills for self-rescue before heading out.
Flattop Mountain, accessed from the Bear Lake Parking Lot, offers some mellow high alpine terrain in the Banana Bowls, perfect for sunny days when the avalanche danger is too high for steep terrain.
For the adventurous skiier looking for hard lines, the Bear Lake area has classics like Dragon Tail Couloir, Dead Elk Couloir, Ptarmigan Fingers, and Notchtop Couloir.
Find spring skiing fun on the north side of Sundance Mountain or on Andrews Glacier.
But Rocky Mountain National Park is BIG, and options for backcountry skiing and mountaineering are even bigger.
Cross Country Skiing
The West Side of the Park and the Kawuneechee Valley is generally flatter with more snow, and thus better for cross country skiing. Rangers lead 1.5 hour Winter Ski Programs from Dec. 30 – Jan. 31 (call for program times & dates) . Reservations required up to one week in advance (970-627-3471 from 8-4:30 daily). Bring your own ski equipment.
On the East Side of the Park, the high scenic trails we hike in the summer are used by backcountry skiers in the winter. Sprague Lake and Bear Lake areas in Rocky Mountain National Park are the easiest & most popular winter trails. Shops in town offer lessons, guided tours and rental equipment.
Estes Park is open year-round to welcome skiers and snowshoers…