Estes Park, Colorado Christmas Picture Recap
As many of you know, for Christmas, Dan and I escaped to Colorado!
The year got away from us and though we wanted to travel a lot, we were so focused on other areas of our lives that before we knew it, the year was almost over and there had been NO big adventures.
We decided to put our credit card points to good use for a Christmas getaway.
Dan had never been to Colorado before (I went a few years back for BLEND) and I had never had a white Christmas before. To say we were both excited is an understatement.
As for location, we settled on Estes Park for it’s close proximity to the Rocky Mountain National Forest. This is definitely a tourist town, but for access to the park, it was perfect.
There really isn’t much to say about the trip itself. Each day we ate a hearty breakfast, layered up, and enjoyed hours of hiking and snowshoeing. Then rest, dinner and bed. Repeat. And it was perfect.
So instead of going on and on, lets just recap it with pictures that don’t do this trip justice, shall we? (But they’re still pretty amazing)
We landed late in Denver and high tailed it to Amanda’s for some R&R. She was kind enough to let us crash at her place and took us on a morning hike before we hugged good-bye (and after her speech on why we needed to move to Colorado) to make the drive up the mountain to Estes Park.
Once there, we spent the day getting familiar with the city, stocking up on lunch and snack supplies. And enjoyed a dinner at our hotel, Mary’s Lake Lodge. It was fabulous. We ate elk every night in Colorado. So good!
Bear Lake To Emerald Lake Hike
The next morning we headed into the park to Bear Lake. This is a heavy trafficked trail which was great for our first hike. Lots of skiers, hikers, and snowshoers out and about.
We strapped on our snowshoes and hiked to 3 different frozen lakes… ending on Emerald Lake. It was extremely windy but the views of the continental divide were amazing!
It was amazing. And for our first time snowshoeing, we were really moving! The snowshoes rent for just $6/day and were a must. Some parts of the snow where thigh high and without them, it would have been miserable.
Total Distance Hiked: 6 Miles
Deer Mountain Hike
For our second day, the weather was a bit more windy, but beautiful. We decided to hike up Deer Mountain. Located on the other side of the park, the sun hits this trail a bit more. Therefore, we didn’t need our snowshoes (though the last mile was pretty tough).
This is where we stopped and ate our turkey sandwiches and almonds before turning around and heading back after a little over 6 miles. This was also the highest we had ever been!
Total Distance Hiked: 6.something Miles
On Christmas, we woke up to 70+ mph winds and snow. Lots of snow. We tried to head into the park, but as we got closer (even though it’s only a 10 minute drive), the snow was falling heavier and the roads were getting covered. We decided to head back to our hotel and hike around the property.
It was cold. And kind of miserable. But we lasted for about a mile before heading back in and hoping the wind would die down.
There were times I had to grab on to rocks to make sure I wouldn’t blow away!
The wind stayed strong and Christmas turned into chilling in our room before heading to dinner at the Crag’s Lodge. Dinner was just okay… we weren’t impressed.
The meal felt rushed, our service was awkward, and our holiday meal didn’t feel so special. I think we were done in around 20 minutes. And had no desire to stay for a drink.
Estes Cone + Glacier Trail
Luckily, for our last full day, the winds calmed down and the sun shined bright!
We had BIG goals. To hike a beast of a climb… Estes Cone
We made it over 3/4 of the way before realizing that the previous day’s snow completely hid the trail. 🙁 At first, we thought to just wing it. After all, we could easily see our trails in the VERY deep snow.
But… after awhile, we decided we didn’t want to be “that couple” who gets lost in the mountains. How crappy would that be? So we turned around, quite disappointed.
But we didn’t let it stop our day and decided on a final hike of the Glacier Trail. This 6 mile out and back trail did not disappoint. It was beautiful! The views, the crispness, the snow. All stunning.
There were a lot of stream and waterfall points, except that with the snow, these were completely frozen over. Why go around a waterfall when you can just CLIMB up it!?
Total Distance Hiked: 12.something Miles
This trip was exactly what we needed to clear our heads, connect, and live the adventures we want. At the end, we weren’t ready to come home but I guess that’s okay… it just has us ready to go back for more!
Total TRIP Distance Hiked: Over 25 Miles
Did you travel during the holidays?