skip to main content
What to Do in Estes Park During Winter

Winter is well on its way here in Estes Park, Colorado, but don’t let the threat of snow ruin your fun. Estes Park is full of adventure year round, especially in wintertime, and while it may be cold, you could have the time of your life here. 


What to Do in Estes Park During Winter

With fewer crowds than in the summer, Estes Park during winter is still very much alive. Estes Park is located nearby Rocky Mountain National park and is surrounded by beautiful, snow-capped peaks. 

Wildlife wanders around the outskirts of town, and the downtown itself is picturesque. There is no better place to spend time away than in Estes Park (full disclosure: we are biased).

History of Estes Park 

Estes park was established by the founding editor of the Rocky Mountain News. William Byers named the town after Joel and Patty Estes. As the town grew in notoriety, F.O Stanley (of Stanley Steamer Fame) moved to Estes park to recoup from a horrible bout of tuberculosis. His health improved dramatically, and we like to think that it is due to the clean mountain air of the Rocky Mountains.

F.O. Stanley went on to build the famous Stanley Hotel and continued investment in the town and its infrastructure for the rest of their life. Without  F.O Stanley, Estes Park would arguably be another small no-name resort town in the west.

This deep history lives on in the many things that you can do in the town of Estes Park. From backcountry ski adventures to haunted hotels, Estes park is an ideal winter destination, especially if the “cold never bothered you anyways.”

Find Your Perfect Adventure

If a rugged multi-day adventure sounds like a good time, Estes Park is a great base camp to start your winter adventure through the wild and wonderful Rocky Mountain National Park. 

There are plenty of activities to do in the rugged landscape of the Rockies. For one, just being in the presence of the mighty peaks of the Rockies can inspire a sense of adventure. However, if you are looking for adventure, check out these great activities.

1. Cross Country Skiing

Whether you are an avid skier or just learning, there are a variety of options for cross-country skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can rent skis and equipment and Estes Park and head out for a day of adventure in the snow. The western side of the park is more forgiving with deeper snow and flatter skiing, while the eastern side is full of challenging trails that lead to high alpine lakes.

2. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a great way to explore the many famous trails that the Rocky Mountains have to offer during the winter. Explore the alpine forests and frozen waterfalls while traipsing through the park. 

3. Ice Climbing

Because of the high alpine nature of the Rocky Mountains, ice climbing is a great way to experience the thrill of adventure near Estes Park. If you are a beginner, be sure to seek out a guide, as ice climbing utilizes specialized equipment and technical skills. 

4. Ice Fishing

Love fishing? Love the cold? 

Ice fishing is the perfect blend of both. Because of the proximity to several lakes and reservoirs, there are plenty of opportunities to go ice fishing during the wintertime. In some cases, there are ice fishing contests such as the one hosted at Grand Lake.

Unique Places to Visit

In addition to the many opportunities for outdoor adventure, Estes Park is full of unique spots, from restaurants to historical places. Estes Park truly has something to offer everyone.

1. The Stanley Hotel

Remember the story about the founding of the town of Estes Park and the famous F.O. Stanley? His hotel, the Stanley Hotel, inspired Stephen King's magnum opus, The Shining. 

Stephen King famously spent one night at the hotel. In one interview, he said (about the hotel), “...What if somebody died here, at that moment I knew I had a book.”

The hotel offers historical tours, a variety of unique rooms and suites, a top-notch restaurant and bar, as well as Stanley Life.

2. The Park Theatre

The Park Theatre is the oldest operating cinema in the western United States and is clad with a huge neon outlined tower. While it closes down its film showings during the winter, it is a great location to grab a drink. 

Great Food and Drink

Estes Park has an incredible food scene that is often overlooked. There is a great variety of restaurants that cover a wide variety of culinary genres. 

The Dunraven at The Estes Park Resort is the spot for decadence. With an impressive wine list and a variety of seasonal specialties, your tastebuds will thank you for visiting Dunraven.

Hungry for Italian? Mama Rose’s is a classic hotspot, with an incredible selection of pasta, old-world appetizers, and their famous tiramisu.

Visit High Peak Camp

High Peak Camp is a Christian Camp operated by the Salvation army with a mission to “Use nature and the great outdoors as a setting to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, teach environmental awareness, encourage pro-social behavior and safely provide the opportunity to every camper for fun and adventure.” 

While our camp is not in session during the winter, our space can be rented out with a capacity of 275 guests. To learn more about Camp High Peak’s summer programming or to rent it out for your next retreat, contact us!