Home to the famous Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is the perfect town for outdoor activities. It borders both on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, so you will have many acres to explore. Estes Park is also near the city of Black Hawk and is a one-and-a-half-hour drive northwest of Denver.
The town attracts scores of tourists all year and gets busy in the Summer and the Fall. The tourists get to enjoy hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Others come to soak in the beauty of Estes Park during the Fall when the leaves are changing.
Estes Park is unique among its peer Colorado Mountain towns. The reason being is because its winter activities are much more well-rounded than the other cities. Most of the other cities are wholly dependent on their nearby ski resorts.
Near the town, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing trails are easy to reach. You can expect about an hour’s drive to arrive at most skiing areas.
Other activities you can try include backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. Rocky Mountain National Park is famous for these, and people come from all over the country to try them.
Estes Park is an excellent access point to some of the best local skiing in the State of Colorado.
Let’s explore some of the best places to ski near Estes Park below.
Eldora Ski Resort (Alpine Skiing)
Eldora Ski Resort in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is the closest ski area to Estes Park. It averages 300 inches of snowfall annually. When it snows, it covers everything as far as the eye can see.
The resort has 12 lifts, an uphill capacity of 11,500 skiers per hour, 53 trails on 680 acres, and one terrain park.
For visitors staying in Estes Park, Eldora Mountain is the best for downhill skiing. It is one hour and fifteen minutes south of the city, so it is excellent for day trips. Eldora is better than your other options, which are much further away.
Despite its size, Eldora offers a variety of terrain for both newbies or seasoned skiers. It is a popular daytime excursion from the village.
If you decide to stay the night, there are accommodation rentals you can sleep in with your family. When you wake up, you can take lessons and enjoy the groomed slopes.
I love the resort because it is quiet and void of big crowds. Others get full with many people like Keystone or Breckenridge. Most locals will avoid the last two and go with Eldora.
Based on your needs, you can buy a day pass, resort season pass, or access through the ikon pass.
The trails consist of 30 percent advanced, 50 percent intermediate, and 20 percent easy levels.
Cross Country Skiing (Eldora Ski Resort)
If you do not like the fast speeds and steep downhills of Alpine Skiing, cross-country skiing is for you.
Cross-country skiing is fitness-focused and is a similar exercise to winter hiking. At Eldora, you are spoiled for choice on whether to go for cross-country skiing or downhill ski trails. No matter what you choose, there is a lift nearby to take you where you want to go.
Enjoy a wide variety of terrain, including alpine meadows, forests, and mountain views. Also, you have a network of cross-country trails next to the primary alpine mountain that spans over 40 kilometers.
Hidden Valley Ski Area sits 10 miles from Estes Park along Trail Ridge Road. It operated between 1955 and 1991 and has since closed down operations and had its lifts removed. The trails remain popular with skiers who enjoy skinning up and down the tracks.
It offers 1200 acres of skiable diverse terrain, 27 trails, and a vertical drop of 2000 feet, so not for beginners. For expert skiers with experience in backcountry skiing, Hidden Valley offers an endless wilderness of unlimited opportunity.
Beginner and intermediate Skiers can make their runs below the Trail Ridge Road. The seasoned experts operate above the Trail Ridge Road, which is closed in the Winter.
The old Base lodge and Parking area still exist to date. Skiers should practice caution as no avalanche control work is carried anymore. Expect to be on your own since the ski patrol is gone, so be extra cautious.
But, the beginner and intermediate slopes lower down are safe for most individuals. Runs like the Drift, Ptarmigan Glacier, and North Bowl are preferable to expert skiers.
The backcountry terrain is considered dangerous. My best advice would be to attend avalanche training sessions and join a guided outing.
Rocky Mountain National Park runs an Avalanche Beacon Training Park in Hidden Valley. Practices are carried out on simulated avalanche searches, and it is highly recommended.
The Hidden Valley area is also a favorite for families who want to go tubing, snowshoeing, and sledding.
Those not interested in winter activities can enjoy picnics.
Rocky Mountain National Park
For anyone who enjoys flatter ski terrain, the Kawuneeche Valley might be for them. There is flat terrain with plenty of snow. These are the perfect conditions for cross-country skiing enthusiasts.
Beginners do not need to feel left out. Sprague Lake and Bear Lake are perfect options for those who have taken up the sport recently. Upwards of Trail Ridge Road, you will come across wide trails and epic views.
During the Winter, Trail Ridge Road is closed to vehicular traffic. Around this time, it makes for some epic cross-country tracks. Ski rental shops in downtown Estes Park offer equipment and gear for rentals.
Located South of Nederland on Interstate 70 sits Echo Mountain, on the slopes of Mount Evans. It is a small ski area suitable for skiers and riders who enjoy playing in terrain parks. Throughout all the terrain on the hill, features like jumps, rails, boxes, and jibs are propped up. One run is set aside for novice terrain park riders and another for expert terrain park riders.
Echo is one of the two Colorado ski resorts alongside Keystone, offering night skiing. It has a base elevation of 10,500 feet and a vertical drop of 660 feet, three lifts, and fifteen trails.
The Mountain gets an average of 220 inches of snowfall annually. Visit the park from December through to early May. Echo’s main attraction is its terrain park. It also offers glades and tree skiing.
The amenities available at these skiing venues are:
- Lodging options catering to all budgets
- Slope-side lodging and picturesque properties
- Town Homes
- Bed and breakfast
- Mountain inns
- Mountain homes
- Rental for skis, snowboards, helmets, cameras, and snow cycles
- Lessons for children and adults
- Child care
All these amenities are available courtesy of the hotel, cabins, resorts, and cottages. So, you can choose one of these accommodation options, and you can feel sure you will have a good time.