My husband and I just got back from a romantic getaway in Estes Park, Colorado. We stayed at our cabin at Solitude Cabins where we enjoyed the warm fireplace, views of Longs Peak, and cozy kitchen where we cooked several of our meals.
restaurants in estes park
Besides eating at the cabin, we also enjoyed several meals at local restaurants. Himalayan Curry & Kebob’s spicy cuisine warmed us up as we looked out the window at falling snow. We also enjoyed a warm bowl of soup at Claire’s on the Park for a post-hike lunch.
We selected Bird & Jim’s for our anniversary dinner. Described as, ‘Modern mountain dining from an ingredient-driven kitchen’, dining at this restaurant has been on our Estes Park bucket-list for a long time. We opted to sit in the bar area where we sat on a blue velvety coach. The lounge furniture paired well with our smoked whiskey drinks and hummus appetizer. We enjoyed our meals of roast chicken and steak. The whole experience was perfect!
Our evening walk in downtown Estes Park felt like strolling through a scene in a classic Christmas movie with festive holiday lights and fresh snow.
To warm up from the frosty weather, we enjoyed sampling wine at Snowy Peaks Winery and drinking seasonal pints at our favorite Estes Park brewery, Rock Cut. We sipped Kind Coffee as we strolled down the Estes Park Riverwalk.
Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park is located near the East entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. In the summer, this is a hikers dream-spot. In the winter months you can hike with traction, or snowshoe depending on trail conditions. When we arrived, the area had just received fresh snow, so we rented snowshoes from Estes Park Mountain Shop along with poles with snow baskets on them.
Winter is considered off-peak season in Rocky Mountain National Park, so there are no timed-entry permits to worry about. Finding a parking spot is quite a lot easier, although we were surprised to see a long line at the entrance around noon (holiday week).
Winter Hike to The Loch
We went on two snowshoeing excursions during our trip. The first day we attempted to make it to The Loch. We parked at the Glacier Gorge trailhead which is in the Bear Lake corridor. As we stepped out of the car, we were hit with brutal winds. The winds calmed down significantly once we got deeper into the woods. However, my gloves were no match for the 10-degree temperatures, so I was fairly miserable. I was proud of myself for making it past Alberta Falls to the North Longs Peak Trail junction before giving up when a blast of icy wind blew away our snowshoe tracks and scared me to go beyond that point. We gained about 800 feet of elevation and hiked 3.7 roundtrip.
There is a winter trail that we missed that skips Alberta Falls but offers a more direct route to The Loch.
shopping in downtown estes park
That afternoon, we enjoyed shopping in downtown Estes Park. We bought adorable Smokey the Bear beanies at Trendz boutique for our little girls. We also bought nice ski gloves for me at Hyk.
Winter Hike to Chasm Lake junction
Bolstered by my new glove purchase, we decided to attempt snowshoeing again the next morning. This time, we headed to the Longs Peak trailhead in hopes of hiking to the Chasm Lake trail junction. My husband enjoyed this hike last January which he wrote about here.
The winds were much more tolerable. I had moments where I felt warm as we gained 1,800 feet of elevation. This hike was beautiful in the snow. Some spots were challenging where the snow was deep.
Once we approached the tree line, a gush of what felt like hurricane-force wind came down the mountain and we immediately turned around. It was intense!
I enjoyed the hike back down because it was much easier than the way up and went pretty fast. Our total hike was 4.5 miles. I tried to take in the beauty of the forest in the snow while also looking forward to our awaiting seat-warmers.
Layer upon layer – What I Wore hiking in cold weather
pants: Under Armour cold-weather tights and hiking pants
shirt: base layer turtleneck, fleece, winter coat
feet: wool socks, waterproof hiking boots, snowshoes and poles with snow baskets
extras: sunscreen, sunglasses, beanie, neck gaiter, ski gloves, hiking backpack. *our pack’s straw froze, so pack a separate water bottle
COTREX – location tracker and digital topo maps that don’t require cell signal. Keep in mind that cell phones can freeze up in extremely cold temperatures. I found this article about how to prevent loss of use.