Explore Rocky Mountain National Park during the winter | SkyHiNews.com

Explore Rocky Mountain National Park during the winter

For many visitors, winter is their favorite season to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is less visited but still very much open and alive with activity. Beautiful backcountry areas can be reached on snowshoes, skis and (at lower elevations) even with hiking boots.

Elk, coyotes, deer, snowshoe hares and other wildlife remain active through the winter. Their story is told by the tracks left in the snow.

This winter, join a park ranger on a snowshoeing excursion.

Rocky Mountain National Park offers ranger-led snowshoe walks for beginner level snowshoers every winter weekend through March 28 on the east (Estes Park) side, and for beginner and intermediate level snowshoers through March 21 on the west (Grand Lake) side of the park.

Snowshoeing is easy to learn and opens up a new way to see the beauty of nature during its quietest season. No additional fees are charged to participate in these walks.

For beginners, the snowshoe program is a two-hour program that explores the natural world of the sub-alpine forest. No previous snowshoe experience is required.

This walk is held on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. through March 28 on the east side of the park.

The two-hour beginner snowshoe program on the west side is held on Saturdays at 1 p.m. through March 21. Beginning on Feb. 7, an additional tour will be offered at 9 a.m. on the west side.

For more experienced snowshoers, a two-hour snowshoe walk is offered on Sundays at 1 p.m. through March 15 on the west side of the park.

Previous snowshoeing experience is required, because of the elevation gain, mileage 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 Jan. 31. Participants ski a snow-draped landscape and learn about the Kawuneeche Valley.

All snowshoe walks and ski tours require reservations. Reservations should be made in advance, seven days or less prior to the desired walk.

Participants must furnish their own equipment, including poles with baskets, and be at least 8 years old.

To make reservations for west side snowshoe walks call the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at (970) 627-3471 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.

Frontcountry and backcountry camping takes place in the winter, too.

Longs Peak Campground and designated sections of Moraine Park and Timber Creek Campgrounds are open all winter; however, water is not available at the campgrounds.

Permits are required for all backcountry camping and allowed in designated areas only. However, there is no charge in the winter for backcountry camping.

Sledding activities can be enjoyed in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Hidden Valley area. Hidden Valley slopes have been contoured to enhance the safety of sledding and other snow activities. Facilities at Hidden Valley include a warming hut and heated restrooms.

This area is also a good base location for visitors interested in backcountry skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the undeveloped areas in and around Hidden Valley.

Whenever visiting Rocky Mountain National Park to snowshoe, ski or hike, stop by a visitor center or call (970) 586-1206 for current trail, road, snow and avalanche conditions.

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