Waking up to a winter wonderland in Estes Park, Colorado wasn’t what we expected when we planned our trip for October. We expected crisp autumn weather with blue skies and golden aspens. This trip took us by surprise but we had a wonderful time getting cozy by the fireplace in our cabin, taking in the views, playing in Rocky Mountain National Park and enjoying all the shops and treats downtown Estes Park has to offer.
Aspen in Colorado
We expected to see the golden aspens. The contrast with the snow made them even more breathtaking.
Shopping in Downtown Estes Park
We got all bundled up to play in the snow. Then I realized in the rush of packing I forgot to bring along gloves so we purchased some in downtown Estes Park. I always love an excuse to go shopping in Estes, so while we were down there I also picked out a cute hat for my husband to ‘surprise’ me with on Christmas.
Sledding in Hidden Valley
Our favorite snow adventure was going sledding in Hidden Valley which is located inside of Rocky Mountain National Park. We were worried that there might not be enough snow, but there was just enough to have a blast! We had the hill to ourselves and lucked out with a gorgeous day. The last time we went to Hidden Valley it was very windy and cold! I can say without a doubt it’s the most epic place I’ve ever gone sledding. Plus there is ample parking and a nice shelter with restrooms.
Warm up with Hot Chocolate
Getting hot chocolate at Trailhead Restaurant on Fall River Road was another big hit with my girls. Besides the ample whipped cream, they also enjoyed spending time on the playground right outside.
Standing on the restaurant’s back deck we got a family photo with ALL OF US LOOKING! I think this is the only one we’ve captured this year. You can basically count on it being our Christmas card.
Winter Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park
You can’t go to the mountains without getting in a little hiking so we took a stroll around Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. This short loop trail is one of our favorites because it is very toddler friendly and the views are beyond amazing. This time the lake was half-frozen and the trails were half frozen too.
The trail around Sprague Lake was nothing compared to the slipping and sliding my sister-in-law and I did on our way up to Bear Lake which is a little higher up the mountain. It was too slippery to carefully carry the girls up to see the beautiful views. That’s Hallet Peak in the background. Yep, I climbed that once!
Elk in Estes Park
Another reason to visit Estes Park in October is to experience elk rut season. They didn’t seem to mind the early snow.
We had to cut our trip a few days short because more snow was expected and we didn’t want to get stuck. Well… I don’t know how much I would have minded getting stuck in winter paradise, but we had to get back to work and school.
Even though it was cut short, I’d say that our trip was a snow ball. Get it!? Okay that’s my Mom humor coming out.
Have you been to Estes Park in the winter? Let us know your favorite snow day activities!