Enjoy Some Of The Best Winter Activities At This Underrated Western US Destination

Colorado is famous for its beautiful natural landmarks. From the sand dunes in Rocky Mountain National Park to the wildflower capital at Crested Butte, the list of incredible sights and attractions in this state goes on and on. Throughout every season of the year, there is always something to do and something to see. When most people think of visiting Colorado in the winter, wildly popular ski resorts like Aspen or Vail usually come to mind. However, the state is full of charming towns perfect for a snowy retreat. One gem that often gets overlooked is Estes Park, Colorado.

A brief 90-minute drive north from Denver, this small Western town has just under 6,000 residents. Although Estes Park is small, it has no shortage of things to do. Whether you're looking for a classic, cozy cabin escape or a winter sporting adventure in the Rocky Mountain wilderness, this lovely locale offers both.

What to do in Estes Park, Colorado during the winter

Nestled amidst the Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado is often thought of as the base camp of the protected wilderness area. When the snow starts to pile up, most of the hiking and walking trails get piled on. However, this opens up the opportunity for visitors to explore the mountainous area via winter sports activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. You can rent gear at area stores and even find a local outfitter to guide you through the gorgeous, white-trimmed terrain.

If you're looking for something a little less physically demanding, the town is covered in slopes for sledding and equipped with its own ice skating rink run by the local YMCA. If you'd rather spend your time indoors and away from the cold, you'll be pleased to discover Riverwalk, an area packed with shopping, wining, and dining in downtown Estes Park.

When to visit Estes Park and where to stay

Most years, the tourism season in Estes Park peaks in the warmer months of July, August, and September. And while the summer offers loads of wonderful activities, the winter season is a totally underrated experience. But, this is to the mountain village's advantage. One of the reasons it's so magical is that the town slows down during the colder, snowier months, giving visitors like you the perfect peace and quiet to relax by a warm cabin fire on your winter vacation.

And while it's a lot less hectic, the town still celebrates a few festivities you might not want to miss. Just the day after Thanksgiving, Estes Park lights up with its annual Catch the Glow Christmas Parade. Meanwhile, in January you can catch the First Peoples Festival, and in February you can partake in the Wine & Chocolate Festival.

Downtown Estes Park has a large selection of hotels to choose from. However, if you want a particularly unique experience, we recommend you check out the historic landmark, The Stanley Hotel. Up and running since 1909, the lodging is famed for having inspired the hotel depicted in the horror film "The Shining". If you're looking for something a little less eerie but still a bit novel, you should check out one of the many adorable bed and breakfasts in Estes Park or the amazing nearby dude ranches.