It has been a very long time since I sent you all way up into the mountains. Get your snowshoes ready because this week I am sending you all the way up to Rocky Mountain National Park to put them to work.
Truth is, there are many places in the park that are great for snowshoeing. However there is one that springs to mind: Trail Ridge Road.
In warmer months, this serves as the highest paved road in North America. However, as many of you know, it closes around October and stays that way until May or June due to excessive snow cover. That doesn’t mean you can’t find the trail; there are large wooden poles marking the way every couple of yards. It’s a very hard route to lose, and it’ll lead you well above treeline and along the Continental divide.
From Many Parks Curve on Highway 34/Trail Ridge Road, you will have to leave your car and continue on snowshoe-clad foot.
The road weaves upwards through the trees until they begin to grow small, thin and scarce. In case you’re from Under a Rock, this is what is called treeline. Up there you can get an amazing view of all of the park and the foothills to the east. Once you’re high enough, you’ll see Lake Granby and even Winter Park to the west. To the north, you’ll see the cube-like form of the back side of Long’s Peak jutting out of the front range like a fist. If there is a bit of wind, snow will sweep off of it in a ghostly cloud. It makes for a great picture.
A great part of this route is that you can go as far as you want and turn back once you sense that half your energy is spent. Be sure to keep track of that; there won’t be a lot of people coming by to find your body.
To get here, head south on Shields Street or Taft Hill Road and then turn left on Eisenhower Boulevard/Highway 34. Continue on all the way into Estes. Go through the town all the way to the park entrance. Keep going on 34 all the way until you can’t anymore. It is pretty much a straight shot.
The park entry fee is $20 per vehicle and is good for a week. Bring a friend to split the cost. Then go up again over break a few times to make the cost worth your while.
Also, remember that Avalanche gear is available to rent at the rec center! You can get shovels, probes and beacons. Please look into it before you go. Also, please please please be safe up there. With all the snow and intermittent warm weather, we are at high risk for avalanches — though since we are dealing with a road, the risk is much less.
But most of all, have a blast!