In Winter, Rocky Mountain National Park Splits in Two

Author:
Publish date:
Rocky Mountain Map Pin in Estes Park and Grand Lake

Trail Ridge Road connects Estes Park, the eastern gateway town, to Grand Lake, the western gateway town. This high alpine road closes in the winter around mid-October and reopens in early May. Though Trail Ridge Road closes in the winter, Rocky Mountain National Park is OPEN all year.

Learn more about Trail Ridge Road

The story becomes the tale of two Parks

Grand Lake on the West Side

Snowmobiling the Continental Divide near Grand Lake, Colorado

Snowmobiling the Continental Divide near Grand Lake

Grand Lake and greater Grand County can be accessed by I-70 to US 40 over Berthoud Pass, through Winter Park to Granby and east on Hwy 34, about 2.5 hours from Denver.

Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing are ways to play. The forests, though ravaged by the pine beetle, are beginning to show signs of life. See Mother Nature as she rebuilds. Go find a moose along the North Fork of the Colorado River. (observe from a safe distance please)

Lodges, restaurants and shops are open and offer warm cozy surroundings when not out playing in the woods.

Estes Park on the East Side

Sunrise at a wintery Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Snowshoe to Dream Lake from the trailhead at Bear Lake on the east side of the park

Estes Park should not be a forgotten mountain town in winter. Gone are the summer crowds. Lodging prices are lower and the fun meter is on high for the seductions of solitude in a Rocky Mountain winter.

Less than two hours of uncrowded highways from Denver Metro via 36, 34, or 7 will easily get you there.

Snowshoeing tours are offered by several companies that can take you deep into the Park and show you the quiet side of playing in the snow. Squirrels may chatter, a weasel or pine marten may cross your path and a gust of wind may shower you with filtered snow as it whistles through the branches of the trees. Cross-country skiing, bird watching, and other activities can occupy the days that are usually filled with bright sunshine high above the Front Range haze.

Culinary delights abound in excellent restaurants. Relax for the evening in a rustic lodge with a fire in the fireplace. Missing the madding crowds? Jam packed I-70 to the ski resorts will be there next weekend. Enjoy the winter solitude in the park.

Related

Winter in Rocky Mountain National Park's Glacier Gorge with Longs Peak in the horizon.

Winter in Rocky Mountain National Park

Check out the winter wonderland that is RMNP. Just make sure to do a bit of planning and preparation before heading into this lovely white landscape.

White wildflowers

Spring in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spring is a great time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, when the weather is cool, the flowers are budding, and the crowds are light.

Thunder Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park Weather Almanac

The park is open 24/7/365, but it’s a very different place in January than it is in July. Here is what to expect in every season.

Cloud inversion at Rainbow Curve on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Weather and Climate Overview for Rocky Mountain National Park

The high country has extreme weather patterns. Shaped by elevation, slope, and exposure, these patterns can change rapidly.

Aspen trees in autumn

See Aspens in Fall at Rocky Mountain National Park

Starting in late August, aspens in the highest reaches of the Park begin their annual quaking, a term to describe the aspens unique leaves changing a golden-yellow hue and how they react in wind.

Arapaho Indians

Native American Tribes in Rocky Mountain National Park

Utes and Arapaho Indian Nations in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park Overview Map

A Simple Overview Map of Rocky Mountain National Park

This basic map illustrates how Rocky Mountain National Park is divided into the west side and the east side, joined by Trail Ridge Road which is closed in the winter.

Map showing where is Rocky Mountain National Park

Where is Rocky Mountain National Park?

Head for northeast Colorado. The park is flanked by Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west.

Dylan Maddalena, Head Wrangler, YMCA Jackson Stables

Dream Jobs in Rocky Mountain National Park

What it is really like to live and work in RMNP? Peek inside the typical days of park rangers, stable managers, volunteers, and outdoor business owners.