The perfect winter getaway is an easy trip for Front Rangers looking for a wild weekend close to home.
The gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is home to lots of great places to eat. But a relatively new addition is proving to be a standout dining experience. Located on US 36, the park entrance road, Bird & Jim easily fulfills its promise of “modern mountain dining.” As expected, the menu is driven by the availability of locally sourced ingredients and may evolve with the seasons. One of our favorites was the lamb Bolognese with pappardelle, garlic, whipped mascarpone, red wine, and, of course, ground lamb from a farm in nearby Longmont, Colorado.
While Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t the only place to play, it certainly offers the most opportunity. Hiking is available all season long—with boots and traction spikes in the early season and snowshoes or skis when the snow is deep. Our adventure was in December and spikes were perfect. We hiked from Glacier Gorge to Sky Pond, about 4 miles each way. Our guide, Jesse Ramos, gave us a number of great options varying in length and effort so we could settle on this hike—the perfect one for us. Ramos and other guides working with the Estes Park-based Colorado Mountain School also offer rock climbing, ice climbing, and backcountry ski trips to accommodate all levels of adventurers.
The Mountain Village at Lake Estes hosts a community of luxury cabins looking out on the lake or surrounding mountains, a stone fireplace to cozy up with a book or loved ones, and a hot tub on the deck for post-adventure relaxation. The modern kitchen is well appointed for in-house meals or just to keep the hot cocoa flowing. The cabins have two bedrooms, including a king-bed master on the second floor with a loft seating area when you can retreat away from any of the bustle happening downstairs. The first-floor bedroom with en suite gives another couple (or siblings able to share a king bed) a comfortable space of their own. For full-house guests, the sofa in front of the fireplace pulls out to a bed as well. Upon request, a festive holiday tree and decorations can be added to cater to the season. And, since Estes Park is such an intimate small town, everything is within a short drive.