From the blog

How to Enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park’s Backcountry in Winter

image of Rocky Mountain National park

Solitude, untracked powder, and remote reaches of the Rockies are all that people seek when they head out to the backcountry. Trading in lift lines for Timberline, winter enthusiasts and thrill seekers alike venture to Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry for a fantastic mountain adventure.

Here are some helpful tips on how to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry in the winter.

Know before you go

While the backcountry terrain attracts the thrill seekers and those who want to experience it for the first time it is still good to “know before you go.” As beautiful as the backcountry is, it has its hazards. Adventure seekers must be prepared for rapid changes in weather and avalanches. Whether you are a seasoned backcountry adventurer or a first-timer, be sure to check with the National Park service regarding current weather conditions.

Obtain a backcountry permit

If you plan to spend the night in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry during your vacation a backcountry permit is required. Permits and information can be obtained at one of their visitor centers:

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

Kawuneeche Visitor Center

Activities enjoyed

Skiing and snowboarding

The two most popular Estes Park backcountry activities enjoyed during the winter are skiing and snowboarding. For those who like to carve their own runs, the backcountry offers – what seems to be – an endless playground of white powder.

Hidden Valley offers roughly 1,200 skiable acres of untrodden powder. The terrain caters a variety of skill levels -from beginner to advanced. For those willing to “skin up”, skiers and snowboarders seeking a backcountry thrill will want to explore the peaks near Bear Lake as well.

Other winter activities available in the backcountry include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.


Imagine walking atop fresh powder with green forests and 13,000-foot mountain peaks surrounding you. Well, you can do just that when snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry. Great trails can be found at Bear Lake with connections to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake.

Read here for more information regarding snowshoeing trails Rocky Mountain National Park.

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is another great way to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park’s backcountry terrain in the winter. With popular trails such as Tonahutu Creek Trail to Grand Lake and Bierstadt Lake Trail off Bear Lake Road, you will have enough to keep you busy during your vacation.


Depending on what activity you plan to enjoy in the backcountry, having the right equipment is key. There are several stores located in downtown Estes Park such as Estes Park Outfitters and Estes Park Mountain Shop, that will be happy to help outfit you with the right gear.

Stay at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn

Ready to plan your backcountry adventure at Rocky Mountain National Park? Start by finding the perfect accommodations at Alpine Trail Ridge Inn. Located near downtown Estes Park and just minutes from the backcountry permit office at Rocky Mountain National Park – we are a great choice for your next mountain getaway!

(970) 586-4585

Check our reservations calendar to see availability and select you room.