Over Thanksgiving weekend, we took full advantage of our time off from work and headed up to Estes Park, CO – the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park – for a few days. Since it was our first time snowshoeing this season, we decided to go on some short, easy hikes so we wouldn’t burn out our legs on the first trail. Although easy, these three short snow hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park had gorgeous views and each gave us a different perspective of the park.
1. Alluvial Fan Waterfall
Getting to check out this waterfall in late fall or early winter, when it is just beginning to freeze, is always a unique treat. However, it is truly a must-see in any season!
The Alluvial Fan area is a short drive from the Fall River Entrance of RMNP. The trail to the base of the waterfall is a very short, easy hike from the parking area, with only a slight elevation gain. Snowshoes usually aren’t necessary in this area, just be careful not to fall into the frozen stream or slip on the many rocks.
The Alluvial Fan is the result of the Lawn Lake Flood of 1982, and was further changed by the more recent historic flooding in 2013. Across from the waterfall is a beautiful open field and tree-lined mountains. Take some time here to appreciate the glory of nature and the stillness of winter.
2. Trail Ridge Road
This road is the highest paved road in any U.S. National Park and is a blast to drive over in the summer, but after it closes in early fall it is still a great area to check out – just be careful because conditions can change quickly!
To hike along the closed portion of this road, park in the lot shortly after the Many Parks Curve (which you should walk over to check out too). Snowshoes are probably necessary since this area can have pretty deep snow.
After about a quarter of a mile, there is a great lookout over the park. And less than a mile after that is another overlook with even more amazing views! If you look straight down you can even see the sledding hill! We turned around at this point, but plan to hike a little further next time. We loved the silence and peace of winter we felt while out on this trail all alone.
3. Upper Beaver Meadows
Since the road to the actual trailhead was closed, we parked off Moraine Ave. across from the turn for the trailhead. Then we wandered through the powder, admiring the mule deer in the distance and we even spotted a coyote!
This easy, flat hike is filled with sprawling views and a beautiful forest. You can do the entire loop, or just a few miles like we did. If you are lucky, maybe the weather will cooperate for you too!
But BEWARE of silly husbands who may not be able to resist throwing some of the fresh snow at you, or (in my case) shaking a tree so you get completely covered in it!
Don’t let weather, time or fitness level stop you from enjoying the outdoors! There are always great hiking options, no matter what you are looking for… you just have to search them out!
Want more tips for Rocky Mountain National Park? Read more:
- 3 Short Strolls in RMNP
- Winter Weekend Getaway: Estes Park
- Stargazing in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Easy Winter Hike: Bierstadt Lake
- Weekend Getaway Guide: Grand Lake
For more great Colorado hikes and activities for every season, check out our Colorado travel page.