Estes Park Winter Bucket List

The temperatures are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and the first few holiday decorations are going up. Winter is on it’s way, so I’m getting in the spirit by making a winter bucket list for our trip to Estes Park, Colorado.

Go Sledding

Santa is bringing us new sleds! Where is the best place to take them?

Our family is excited to go on an epic sledding excursion at Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hidden Valley is the only place in Rocky Mountaion National Park where sledding is allowed. ‘Sleds and tubes are the most popular, but skis and snowboards without bindings also are allowed.’ according to visitestespark.com.

We wrote more about sledding in Hidden Valley in this post.

Snowshoe

According to Colorado.com, snowshoeing is one of the easiest sports to learn – even for kids. The snowshoes help make hiking easier by distributing your weight so that you are walking more on top of the snow instead of sinking into it.

Need snowshoeing gear? Last year we rented poles and snowshoes from Estes Park Mountain Shop.

Ranger-led snowshoe walks start mid-January 2023. Participants must be 8-years-old or older and reservations are required. The park’s website contains additional information.

Winter Hike

It’s important to be knowledgeable about the avalanche warnings and trail conditions before setting out on a winter hike so that you bring along the right gear. Sometimes we’ve hiked with waterproof boots and other times strapped on micro spikes for extra traction.

9 Wintry Hikes in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park

Planning for a Winter Visit – Rocky Mountain National Park

Frozen river in Moraine Park

Drink Hot Chocolate

Sipping a steamy cup of hot chocolate is the best way to warm up during the winter months. Our favorite places to get a hot chocolate are Kind Coffee and Trailhead Restaurant. For more ideas, we wrote a fun post about the Best Places to ‘Have a Cup of Cheer’.

hot chocolate at trailhead restaurant

Shopping in downtown estes park

One of our favorite holiday traditions is visiting one of the Christmas shops in downtown Estes Park and letting each of our girls pick out a special ornament to hang on our tree. The town has several Christmas shops including The Spruce House and The Christmas Shoppe.

Looking for unique gifts? Some of my favorite shops in Estes Park are Trendz boutique, Mary Janes, and Hyk.

Sit by the fireplace with a good book

Our cabin has a great fireplace in the living room and I love to sit next to it and read books while the snow falls outside our window. I wrote a post for fellow book lovers here.

Dine Out and enjoy downtown holiday lights

Last winter my husband and I enjoyed a romantic meal at Bird and Jims. We sipped on hand-crafted cocktails while the snow fell outside. It was so cozy! The restaurant offers a 12 Days of Christmas 3 Course prix fixe menu from December 21 – January 1 from 5-8pm.

HIMALAYAN CURRY & KEBOB is another Estes Park restaurant on the top of our list to visit this winter. The warm spices offer the perfect complement to the cold weather outside. Himalayan Curry & Kebob is located in downtown Estes Park which is always decorated with festive holiday lights. It feels like a magical winter wonderland!

Indoor Rock Climbing

Estes Park Mountain Shop has an indoor rock climbing gym for ages 5 and older. A variety of packages are available including a 3 CLIMBS FOR $20 option which includes belaying. Reservations are recommended. We haven’t gone yet, but this activity is at the top of my daughter’s list.

float down the lazy river

The Estes Valley Community Center has a pool with a lazy river, slides and water play area. There are resident and non-resident fees to use the facility. 

Enjoy a quiet moment of reflection

This time of year can be hectic with events and shopping. My natural inclination is to have a to-do list running through my head. Seeking out quiet places to reflect on the year will help me maintain a sense of peace and appreciation.

St. Catherine of Siena Chapel (Chapel on the Rock)

Whether you are traveling to Estes Park on a romantic getaway, a friends trip, or a family vacation, there is a lot to do in the winter. I can’t wait until our trip!

7 Romantic Things To Do in Estes Park, Colorado

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day! Inspired by all the LOVE, this week I’m sharing the most romantic things to do in Estes Park, Colorado.

  1. Linger over breakfast. Typically I eat toast for breakfast, that’s the opposite of romantic! Sitting down to a full service breakfast with a couple cups of coffee is a luxury. There are a lot of places to eat breakfast in Estes Park. A couple of my favorites are Notchtop Bakery & Cafe and Trailhead Restaurant.
  2. Play Outside. There is something very romantic about activities that are playful or adventurous. During the winter months you can grab a sled and ride in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Hidden Valley. Or, you can rent snowshoes and explore the trails you love all covered in bright, white snow. If you are planning a romantic trip in the summer, you could rent a boat at Lake Estes marina or go on a horseback ride with your favorite partner.
  3. Browse Unique Shops. Downtown Estes Park has plenty of shopping. Date-worthy destinations include historic Macdonald Bookshop – I think the fireplace adds to the charm. There are also several art galleries in downtown Estes Park. My favorite is Images of Rocky Mountain National Park.
  4. Wine Tasting. Estes Park is home to Snowy Peaks Winery. They offer tastings of local wine and often host live music.
  5. Sunset. When the sun goes down over the mountains, the sky turns brilliant shades of pink and yellow. Savor these magical moments with a romantic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.
  6. Romantic Night on the Town. The Dunraven Inn in Estes Park offers home-made Italian food and a cozy atmosphere. It’s a unique, locally owned restaurant. There is a tradition to hang $1 bills on the walls in the bar area and a collection of Mona Lisa themed art work is displayed throughout the restaurant.
  7. Get Cozy. Estes Park has a lot of wonderful places to stay while you visit. If you choose to stay at Solitude Cabins, we hope you take time to relax by the stone fireplace and watch the snow falling down outside. We would love for you to visit our cabin and enjoy a memorable weekend with your loved ones. If you would like more suggestions for your itinerary while in Estes Park, I would love to help!