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Best route to Estes Park and recommendations for activities

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Honolulu, Hawaii
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13 posts
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Best route to Estes Park and recommendations for activities

Our trip is coming up soon, and I wanted to see if you could provide some recommendations for the Estes Park area as we will only be in the area for a few days (March 16th-March 19th) We were wondering:

a) What is the best route (scenic etc) to come to Estes Park from Boulder and from Estes Park to CO Springs area

b) We would like to do activities such as snowshoeing (by ourselves or with a guide), sledding, possibly horseback riding, as well as try to see some wildlife if possible (we are aware Falls Rd. is closed in the park). What/where would you recommend? Coming from Hawaii, we do not have any winter clothes. Are there places to rent equipment etc there? What kind of weather should we expect this time of year?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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124 reviews
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1. Re: Best route to Estes Park and recommendations for activities

March is the snowiest month for Colorado and for Rocky Mountain National Park. Check road conditions at www.cotrip.org even see the roads in some places with live webcams. There are two webcams on the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. Click on the camera icons on the road conditions map. The most scenic route to Estes Park from Boulder is Boulder Canyon to Nederland and up the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. Here is the mapquest link showing you the route.


Usually, if it has snowed overnight or is snowing, highway 36 from Boulder to Estes Park is plowed sooner than the Peak to Peak route through Nederland. However, there is ongoing construction on highway 36 with lengthy delays. CDOT is advising people to use highway 7 from Lyons to Estes Park instead of highway 36.

March is a great time to see wildlife in RMNP. Here is a scenic driving tour of RMNP for winter and spring. All the roads on the link are open in winter/spring weather permitting.


Along this route, you may find elk in many places - Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park and near the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Your best bet for bighorn sheep is along the hillsides of Fall River Road on your way to the Fall River Entrance Station. Deer frequent the area between the highway 34/36 intersection at Deer Junction and Upper Beaver Meadows Road. Trail Ridge Road is open to Many Parks Curve - weather allowing. Old Fall River Road (different from Fall River Road) is never open in winter.

RMNP rangers lead free snowshoe walks on the east side of RMNP. You need to call to make reservations. Walks are scheduled for Sunday, March 16 and Wednesday, March 19. See this link for details and the phone number to make reservations.


You can rent snowshoes and other equipment in Estes Park from several locations like Warming House, Estes Park Mountain Shop and Kirk's Mountain Adventures. They provide guided snowshoe hikes. Sled rentals for sledding at Hidden Valley in RMNP are also available from all three businesses.

Rangers at the RMNP Beaver Meadows Visitor Center can give you trail and road conditions in the park. You do not need a guide for easy snowshoeing around Bear Lake. Depending on snow conditions, you can probably walk around Sprague and Lily Lake with traction devices. Estes Park Mountain Shop rents traction devices. RMNP Upper Beaver Meadows Road is closed to vehicles in winter and is a nice walk with pretty mountain views.

Both Sombero and Jackson Stables in Estes Park provide horseback rides in March.

Weather can vary dramatically in March. The weather for Estes Park will not be the same for RMNP. It can be sunny in Estes Park and snowing at Bear Lake. For the time of your visit, the averages for Estes Park are a high of 46 and a low of 23. You can deduct 3 to 5 degrees from that for each 1000 ft. in elevation you gain in RMNP. Estes Park is at 7500 ft. Bear Lake is at 9500 ft. You can also check the weather before you go.

Estes Park weather


RMNP Bear Lake weather


People visiting Estes Park in winter also enjoy touring the historic and ghostly Stanley Hotel and wine tastings at Snowy Peaks Winery. If you are planning to spend the night in Estes Park, it is low season and rates are often half what they are in summer. Lodging businesses offer deals and discounts so call and ask.

Since you are short on time, to get from Estes Park to Colorado Springs, I would take highway 7 through very pretty and colorful South St. Vrain Canyon to Lyons, 36 through Boulder, 93 to C-470 to I-25. Here is the mapquest link for this route.


If I left anything out or you have other questions, just ask.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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13 posts
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2. Re: Best route to Estes Park and recommendations for activities

Thank you for all of the detailed routes and the links, that will make everything much easier when we get to Colorado next week!

Sedona, Arizona
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3. Re: Best route to Estes Park and recommendations for activities

The last post gave some great ideas, if you have the time absolutely drive the peak to peak. Try to pack a picnic lunch, if the sun is out you'll find several places to stop along the way. We have been to estes the last 12 years in a row and 95% of the time you will see the elk , moose! deer! big horn sheep all from the car. Moose are much more rare to see on that side of the mountains yet we came across a mom and her calf while driving the peak to peak from Nederland. Have fun

Nederland, Colorado
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4. Re: Best route to Estes Park and recommendations for activities

As always, fv1989 provides excellent info and advice!

Yes indeed, it is possible to see moose near Nederland along the Peak to Peak. We have several in our neighborhood. We actually had a "moose jam" on our way skiing on Sunday. :)

5. Re: Best route to Estes Park and recommendations for activities

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