We recently bundled up our family for a winter adventure in Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. Our weekend began at Lily Lake where we pulled the girls (ages 1 and 3) around the mostly flat loop on our sled. Our three-year old enjoyed playing in the powdery snow.
We also enjoyed an epic sledding excursion at Hidden Valley which is located inside Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s the only place in the park where true sledding is allowed. The area was once a ski destination.
When we got out of our car the ranger warned, ‘hold on to your sleds.’ After a windy blast, we quickly learned why. Our little sled flew into the air and landed in a patch of distant trees where we recovered it and held on tighter. The winter winds can be mighty!
My husband and I took turns riding on the sled with the girls. It was fun for us and helped guarantee the girls a smoother ride.
*This is a BYOS (Bring Your Own Sled 🙂 hill
*There was a flushing toilet/restroom facility located by the Hidden Valley parking lot.
*You can learn more details and tips about Hidden Valley here at visitestespark.com or on the park service’s website.
Rocky Mountain National Park is located near Estes Park, Colorado. The quaint downtown is filled with twinkling lights this time of year making the shops and restaurants feel even more festive than normal. On our way into downtown we spotted a male elk. Hello sir!
Once downtown, we grabbed a cup of steaming hot Kind Coffee and walked along the Big Thompson River. The river was mostly frozen over with tiny ice droplets dipping into the running water.
Some sunsets feel more like gifts. We experienced a bright and colorful display over the snow dusted mountains. It’s beauty reminded me to stop and give thanks for the amazing moments we got to share as family in this special place.
Have you visited RMNP in the winter? What is your favorite winter activity?
Last week we took a last-minute family road trip to Estes Park, Colorado with our two-year-old, Cecy and our two-month-old, Evy. On the second day of our trip we woke up to snow and decided to go to Lily Lake, which is one of our favorite places in Rocky Mountain National Park. We love it so much that we named Evy – Evelyn Lily after the lake and nearby Lily Mountain. Hopefully when she grows up she thinks that’s cool and not completly corny!?
We pulled on the layers and (mostly) enjoyed the big, white, fluffy flakes. Cecy rode in the sled for part of the .8 mile hike.
And on her Daddy’s shoulders for the rest.
While little Evy enjoyed cuddling all warm next to me in our Ergo carrier. You can see the snow was really accumulating quickly on my hat!
We were the only (crazy) ones on the trail and it felt pretty magical.
We spotted a few ducks swimming in the cold.
Based on the weather forecast we were surprised when we ended our hike that it was still snowing and that it had snowed so much. The roads were pretty slippery on the drive back to our condo.
Lesson learned!! Next time we’ll check cotrip.org. They have a camera setup right by Lily Lake to show road conditions.
According to the Spring 2017 edition of RMNP newspaper, Spring is the snowiest season in Rocky Mounation National Park. ‘On average, some of the biggest snowstorms of the year happen in March, April, and even May. Be prepared.’
The temperature wasn’t too cold, but we were immediately blasted by strong, frigid winds. For the first five minutes I wanted to quit, but I’m glad we toughed it out! Soon we were shielded from the wind by trees and Cecy took a nap on her Daddy’s back. We added (less than half a mile) by hiking the Lily Ridge trail for views of the frozen lake with Estes Cone and Longs Peak as the stunning backdrop.
We also took Cecy on her first sledding adventure with a trip to Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The valley used to be a winter ski destination, but now families use the slopes for sledding. It’s pretty steep for a 1 year old, so we took turns sledding with her down the hill. We also took a couple of turns for ourselves. I forgot how much fun sledding is!
We bought our sled at the Warming House, an outdoor adventure store in Estes Park.
Beautiful Lily Lake is right across the street from Twin Sisters trailhead on highway 7. A flat .8 mile trail circles the lake. This is an easier walk for anyone who struggles with strenuous terrain. Several benches are available offering an opportunity to rest and soak in the gorgeous views. We enjoyed showing Cecy the little ducks on the lake and the pretty wild flowers that surround it. This is a spot I expect to return to again and again, especially when Cecy starts walking. She took a few cautious steps on her own yesterday – so that might be soon!