Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter

March 21, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A buddy of mine had a birthday coming up and I was able to fly to Denver for a long weekend. I've spent a lot of time in Rocky in the summer, but I had never been in the winter. So we made a plan to stay in Estes for a couple nights and snowshoe into the mountains for a couple days. We arrived  too early to check into our hotel, so we hit the climbing gym in town and then the bar for a couple beers. We decided to head to Sprague Lake for sunset, which was nice. Normally it's so crowded in the summer but there were only a few of us walking the trail.

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The following morning we drive up to Bear Lake so we could hike up Flattop Mountain. I've done this hike in the summer a few times, and I knew it was fairly safe from avalanche danger.

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Eventually we started to climb out of the trees and got some nice views of the mountains, including Longs Peak. Unfortunately, climbing out of the trees also meant the wind picked up. Substantially.

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As we climbed out of the Krummholz and into the alpine, we were completely exposed. It was straight wind in the face as we climbed up the mountain. Occasionally the wind would gust and completely obscure the views.

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It was slow going with the wind and the snow. As we neared the top the weather came in and we decided ti find a spot to crack our beers and have some snacks. 

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On the way down we came across a few groups of ptarmigan in winter plumage. It's crazy how close we got to them before we noticed them.

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We made it back to the trailhead in one piece and hit Ed's for some killer Mexican food and margaritas. We had one more day to explore around but we were a little sore from the day before. So we headed back to Bear Lake but instead of climbing, we hiked out to Nymph, Dream, and Emerald lakes.

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On the way back to town we had to stop and get a nice photo of Longs Peak and the Diamond. Overall, it was a short but great boys birthday trip!

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