Estes Park is a popular destination for winter getaways. This small mountain town ushers visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park, presenting them with loads of fun. Estes Park is accessible in winter, unlike many other mountain towns, so the weather shouldn’t put your vacation on hold.
This town has endless activities for kids to enjoy, no matter how cold it gets. Here is a list of the activities to help you plan your winter vacation.
Sledding, Tubing, or Snowshoeing at Hidden Valley
Get ready to have fun on the sledding slopes of Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. From the 1951s to the early 1990s, this place was a complete skiing spot with lifts, a skiing lodge, and trails.
However, it was closed in 1992, but later on, the management of RMNP took over Hidden Valley and revived it into the most popular sledding spot in the mountain town.
You will not have to worry about your kid’s safety because the slopes are gentle, so they can climb and slide down with a thrilling experience. The little ones can also build a snowman or engage in a classic snowball fight.
If your kids are outdoor-loving, ice skating would be a fantastic experience in Estes Park. Dorsey Lake is one of the best local places for ice-skating.
This activity is available daily during the winter season and is open to the public at a daily charge. But you won’t have to pay if you will be spending a night at the YMCA or you are a member. Children below six years are also not charged.
Estes Park is home to herds of elk, and it will be fun for your little ones to see them walking around town. Elk are seen every time you drive or walk around the town. Sometimes, they can move to Bond Park next to the Town Hall or open places within the town.
The best time to see the elk is during the winter because that’s when they come down to the valleys of the park from the high country.
Locals believe they move to the valleys because of the severe cold in the high country. You can be sure that your kids will carry lasting memories of these majestic animals.
Go Shopping On Elkhorn Avenue
Elkhorn Avenue is a prominent historic street in Estes Park. If it’s been a long time since you took your family for some window shopping, Elkhorn Avenue is where they will shop until they drop.
The street boasts a series of boutique art galleries, souvenir shops, eateries, and bookstores. The kids will have lots of things to pick from toys, clothes, books, and gifts to carry home for the Christmas season.
Once done with shopping, stop by the Big Horn restaurant and munch some mouthwatering lunch before you take on your next adventure.
Hunt For Pikas
Opposite Poppy’s pizza restaurant in Estes Park, you will notice a beautiful bronze pika sculpture that often sets visitors on an unplanned hunt for 12 other bronze pikas scattered in different parts of the village.
Once you find the 12 pikas, you should go to the Estes Park visitors center and claim your pika finder button.
This activity is similar to a scavenger hunt, and it’s full of fun. Your kids will look forward to the town’s next visit after the hunt for pikas game.
A driving excursion in Estes Park is something your kids will appreciate. They will be amazed by the inspiring views of the town’s snow-graced landscapes and see the wildlife on the lazy winter afternoon.
The winter drives reveal some hidden gems of Estes Park that many people overlook during the summer. The town has several exciting drives, but most of them are found in the Rocky Mountain Conservancy.
Here are some of the best drives you should try out with your kids and what to expect.
Bear Lake Road
Set out with your kids for a gorgeous drive on this road that passes by Moraine Park and Sprague Lake.
The road features many trees, and you will notice some elk wandering or grazing in the meadows of Moraine Park. You can stop by the Big Thompson River and have the little ones admire the great view of this place.
Devil’s Gulch to Dry Gulch Road
This road is found on the east side of Estes Park, and you can access it via the Northern side of Lake Estes.
The road features high mountain meadows that give a potential platform to see wild animals like deer, elk, coyotes, and preying birds such as golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and falcons. If your kids are sharp-eyed, they might also see bears, bobcats, and mountain lions.
Hwy 7 from Estes Park to Wild Basin
As you head towards Lily Lake, this drive is located on the southern part of Estes Park.
On this drive, you will see the Longs Peak of Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s a perfect spot for photographs, thanks to the fantastic views.
As you drive on, you will get to the wild basin area, where you can stop for snowshoeing. The Wild Basin Drive is never a disappointment.
Take an Educational Winter Ecology Walk
With your snowshoes on, take a tour guide, and set out on an adventurous, educational winter ecology walk.
This is one of the best ways for your kids to explore the region and spend the afternoon learning about the environment in the cold.
It will be a time of their life as the guides introduce them to things the city life would never have taught them. Some of the things they will be taught about include winter safety and snowshoeing skills.
The programs are free, but you must pay an entrance fee to get into the park. Note that kids below eight years are not allowed on the winter ecology walk.
Winter Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is an activity that will allow your kids to enjoy the scenic trails of Estes town and warm up. The rides allow your kids to view the wildlife, and they will be delighted to see a herd of elk grazing next to them.
You don’t have to worry about any experience in horse riding because the local outfitters will help according to the experience level.
The best kid-friendly horse riding places in Estes Park include Jackson Stables, Sombrero stables, and the National Park Gateway stable.
Playing in The Snow And Snowball Fights
Playing in the snow is a fun activity for little kids, and Estes Park has easy places where they can play in the snow. Many of the park areas are open and perfect for building snowmen and participating in snowball fights.
Bond Park is one of the best places for snow fights and play. You can find snow in this park and other parks, and all you need to do is find your spot and have fun.
Visit The Estes Park Library
The Estes Valley Library is another kid-friendly spot to drop your little ones and have them warm up from the winter cold. This is a beautiful small library that’s equipped with lots of children’s books.
Elk may also visit you since they like to hang around the library.
Besides the library, you can visit the Estes Park Visitors Center and find out if there are any kid-related activities you can enroll your children in. The center also has brochures and maps if you want to check out anything about the town.