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From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

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From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

Hi,

I will be traveling for the first time to Colorado this December. Flying into Denver and spending the first 3 days in Steamboat. I then want to spend some time at RMNP. From Steamboat to Grand Lake or to Estes Park. Looking for pros/cons, suggestions for both areas with factoring in possible weather at that time. Enjoy good food, good beer, nature photography, wildlife sightings, and hiking/snowshoeing.

Thanks in advance!!

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WestSlope,CO
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1. Re: From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g33451… Adding the link to your other question so those posting may avoid duplication of effort and information.

One possible advantage to Estes Park for the end of your trip is that you are somewhat less likely to encounter road and weather issues when you drive to the airport. I know google says it is 2 1/2 hours to the airport from Grand Lake, but it could be a much longer trip if there's bad weather.

On the other hand, you are looking for snow, sounds like, and there might be more snow in/around Grand Lake and the west side of Rocky Mountain Natl Park. But there'll be more park road available and more trails, I think, on the east side of the park. Some might require traction devices for your shoes instead of snow shoes.

I'm sure others will weigh in with pros and cons.

Edited: 17 September 2017, 22:04
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2. Re: From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

Thank you so much for the reply and sharing the link! I'm hoping to get some of the snow in steamboat so open to less snow in RMNP if it helps road travel.

Any thoughts on chancing of seeing elk on the east side?

Windsor, Colorado
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3. Re: From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

There are many more areas of RMNP to explore on the east side (Estes Park side) especially during the winter when Trail Ridge Road is closed as a through road between Estes Park and Grand Lake. The only real road into the western side of RMNP is Trail Ridge Road and in winter, Trail Ridge Road is only open 10 miles from the Grand Lake Entrance to the Colorado River Trailhead. You are far more likely to see not only elk but other wildlife on the east side of RMNP and in Estes Park in December. This article will tell you more about scenic winter drives in/near Estes Park and the east side of RMNP.

visitestespark.com/blog/…

Missp is correct that road conditions traveling to Estes Park and then back to DIA from Estes Park are usually much better than traveling to and from Grand Lake.

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Estes Park
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4. Re: From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

Thank you for that great link! I hadn't even thought about adding scenic drives to our list. Also, I'm glad to hear we will see some Wildlife on the East side. Hoping for some Elk and some Moose (never seen one before!).

Seems like I'm leaning towards the East side now staying in Estes. The drive from Steamboat to Estes is longer than I wanted (that's why I originally picked Grand Lake) but it sounds like it will be worth it since there will be better roads and more trails.

A friend recommended taking Rabbit Ear Pass to Walden and over to Fort Collins from Steamboat to Estes. Thoughts on that road that time of the year? I saw where they have cameras now on Rabbits Ear, so I figured I could wait until the day of and switch routes if needed.

Thanks for all the great info!

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Hotel Estes
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Windsor, Colorado
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5. Re: From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

Highway 34 through Big Thompson Canyon between Loveland and Estes Park will be closed for construction during your visit. To travel the Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway (the suggestion of your friend) on your way from Steamboat Springs to Estes Park, this is the route you will take.

https://goo.gl/maps/shieaEcNdHw

I comment to people that traveling the route from Walden to Fort Collins is no man's land. This area is not really developed so there are minimal amenities and most of Poudre Canyon has no cell service. Have a full tank of gas and winter preparedness essentials in your car. The route through Poudre Canyon is not plowed between 7 pm and 5 am. If the weather is questionable, I would not take this route. There are a couple of live webcams at www.cotrip.org near Cameron Pass along the route that will give you an idea about road conditions.

This is your other more heavily trafficked option for traveling from Steamboat Springs to Estes Park.

https://goo.gl/maps/2yrpZpiFoCT2

If the weather and road conditions are good, you could take the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway on your way from Steamboat Springs to Estes Park. Here is that route.

https://goo.gl/maps/8aEmsr2nffT2

There are several webcams along the Peak to Peak at www.cotrip.org

Has anyone mentioned Berthoud Pass to you? While traveling Berthoud Pass on the way to or from Steamboat Springs (or Grand Lake) is very scenic, Berthoud Pass can be problematic in winter. The area is prone to avalanches and the road over the pass has lots of switchbacks that can be snowpacked and icy. If you are considering that route, be sure to check www.cotrip.org for any closures and also to look at the several webcams in that area. Here is the location of Berthoud Pass.

https://goo.gl/maps/Td7dBxEZQk52

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Loveland
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6. Re: From Steamboat To Grand Lake OR Estes in December

I cannot thank you enough for all of those routes and information. I did not know that about Berthoud Pass, it wasn't on any of my routes anyways, but I will be sure to stay away from it.

I like the idea of the Peak to Peak route. Will plan on that one unless roads really bad then will go the heavily traffic option.

I was unaware of 34 being closed as well as the other route not having cell service or amenities. I think I will play it safe and go the other routes. I seriously cannot thank you enough!

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