Established on January 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is the 5th most visited park in the country. Although an eighth the size of Yellowstone, it receives as many visitors every year – over 3 million – who come mostly in the summer to enjoy majestic mountains, sweeping vistas, wildlife, and over 300 miles of hiking trails. Visiting in the winter offers an added benefit: solitude. On Ranger Bill’s recommendation we snowshoed the 4-mile Emerald Lake hike in the Bear Lake area of the park. The trail leads to 3 consecutive lakes – Nymph, Dream, and Emerald – and is moderately strenuous, climbing 600 ft over its course. The winter weather kept less-adventurous hikers away, and by the time we reached Emerald Lake we were the only people on the trail (being able to walk across each frozen lake provided additional thrills). We ended our day in the park by driving along Trail Ridge Road (they always keep a section open year-round), enjoying the scenery and wildlife.
Tip: This being our first experience with snowshoes, we rented them from Estes Park Mountain Shop in Estes Park, CO – only $5.00 a day.