Trails - Winter

Last updated: December 29, 2022

General Overview of Current Trail Situation in Rocky Mountain National Park

We're now in Rocky Mountain National Park's winter season. Most trails in the park are heavily snow-covered, especially between 9,000' and 11,000'. The more popular trails in the park are likely to be packed down from all of the foot traffic. This packed snow can often become icy and might require the use of micro-spikes and poles to keep from slipping. Less traveled trails and off-trail hiking will likely require snowshoes or skis, since the snow may be many feet deep.

You can find additional information about rental options, winter hiking ettiquite, and winter saftey issues at this link.

Approaching Dream Lake following a winter storm

Specific trail reports

Trail reports are not provided during the winter season.

    Winter Hiking Reminders

    Here are a few important things to keep in mind as you head out onto the trails this winter.

    1. Be Avalanche Aware.

    From mid-October through mid-June anyone hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing in the mountains should be aware of the potential for avalanches to occur. A good rule of thumb is to avoid being on or immediately below slopes that have an angle of 35-45 degrees and to know the current avalanche forecast before you head out.

    Here's a good introduction to avalanche safety by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. If you plan to spend a lot of time out in the mountains in the winter, consider taking an avalanche training course. Several are offered in Rocky Mountain National Park by groups such as Kent Mountaineering and the Colorado Mountain School.


    2. Be prepared for high winds.

    High winds are normal in Rocky during the winter, but there comes a point at which they become dangerous. There are many dead trees in the forest that fall during high winds. Falling trees are called "widow-makers" for a reason. Be prepared to turn-around if the winds are strong enough to topple dead trees.

    3. Bring proper equipment.

    For most hikes you will need microspikes, snowshoes, or skis. These can all be rented in Estes Park or Grand Lake. You'll also want to make sure you have sufficient warm clothing. Avoid wearing jeans or other cotton based clothing as it holds on to moisure and will not keep you warm once it gets wet.

    4. Always let someone know where you are going, when you plan to return, and who to contact if you don't.