Top three reasons to backcountry ski in Rocky Mountain National Park
Admire the lovely scenery while shredding untracked powder
Broad peaks allow both novice and expert skiers to put their minds at ease
Quench your thirst for adrenaline and ski on the Rockies’ irresistible snowy terrain
Colorado boasts big terrain and sky-scraping mountains, and Rocky Mountain National Park is no exception. Longs Peak sits at 14,258 feet and there are 18 other mountains within the park that top out at 13,000+ feet. The terrain here is a steep-skiers paradise, boasting numerous 40-degree-angle lines. Estes Park, situated conveniently minutes from RMNP’s eastern border, is the perfect starting point for an epic ski tour within Rocky’s boundaries. Get your skis primed for your big day in the backcountry and enjoy the steep couloirs and beautiful views over the surrounding mountains. Find out more about backcountry skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park from Rob Coppolillo, certified AMGA/IFMGA Rock, Alpine and Ski Guide.
December through March
Estes Park, CO, is a five-minute drive from the park’s entrance
Beginner to advanced
Choose how you spend your day
A Customized Day of Private Guided Backcountry Skiing
A privately guided ski tour is the perfect chance to dive into Colorado’s revered backcountry— without the cost of a lift ticket or back-to-back traffic along the usual routes. RMNP’s terrain is vast, and there’s no better way to challenge yourself with new objectives than by touring with a guide. Your guide will customize the perfect day out—whether it’s in Hidden Valley’s mellow terrain or the challenging Tyndall Gorge or The Dream Chutes, you can count on a full day of touring and 2,000-5,000 vertical feet.
Private Intro to Backcountry Skiing
If you want to get your first taste of backcountry skiing, Rocky is a great training ground. Let a guide introduce you to epic terrain and untouched powder outside of resort boundaries. You’ll learn the fundamentals of backcountry ski touring while staying safe and having fun. Great intro areas include Banana Bowl and Hidden Valley.
Advanced Tours & Ski Mountaineering
Described as a “steep-skier’s paradise,” RMNP is ideal for advanced skiers willing to test their limits. The snowiest state in the U.S. offers unparalleled serious terrain, like that found on Dragontail, the Dead Elk Couloir, and the South Face of Hallett. Get your adrenaline pumping and let an experienced guide show you the ins and outs of some of the most attractive parts of the Rockies.
Meet your guide
The Mountain Guides
Joe Kinner did a magnificent job! He was so patient and helpful. Very enjoyable to be with. We would absolutely use him again.
Very professional! Excellent instructors with a wealth of knowledge and most importantly, they know how to facilitate growth of one’s mountain sense.
Great trip with great guides and an overall amazing experience.
John Douglass did a great job in finding the optimal tour for me, despite difficult conditions, he made the best of it and we had a great day!
Things to know
Covid measures in Rocky Mountains National Park
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, please refer to the Visit Estes Park or The Official Site of Colorado Tourism.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get in this adventure:
- An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- A full day of backcountry ski touring
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Trip insurance
- Fees and passes
How fit do I need to be?
In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. While there is terrain for all skill levels in Rocky Mountain National Park, you will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging blue or black-level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.
What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?
Backcountry skiing isn’t just for pros looking for the ultimate thrill ride, it’s also beginner-friendly, meaning anyone with challenging blue or black-level resort experience can have fun in the backcountry. If you’ve never backcountry skied before, heading out with a guide is your best bet. They’ll take care of the planning, introduce you to the basics, like skinning uphill, and teach you how to manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training to keep you safe.
What equipment do I need to bring?
For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:
- Skis or Splitboard with compatible binding for boots (can be rented)
- Skiing poles (can be rented)
- Climbing Skins (fit to skis) (can be rented)
- Basic avalanche safety gear (can be rented)
- Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- Boots — alpine touring, telemark, or snowboarding boots (can be rented)
- Synthetic long sleeve top
- Medium to expedition weight long underwear
- Soft shell or fleece jacket
- Shell jacket with hood
- Puffy jacket — hood recommended
- Shell pants — full side zips and built-in gaiters
- Socks — synthetic or wool, sized for your boots and blister protection
- Sock liners — optional, but recommended
- Gloves — 3 pairs: 1 light, 1 medium, 1 heavy pair
- Medium weight ski hat
- Baseball hat or visor for sun
- Buff/neck gaiter
- Water bottle and 1L of water
- Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- Ski goggles
- First aid kit
- Sunscreen/lip balm
- Headlamp with extra batteries
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
- Camera — optional
Can I rent equipment?
All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. The Mountain Guides has rentals available and you can rent:
- Avalanche safety pack, including beacon, shovel and probe
- Alpine touring ski package of skis, skins, boots and poles
- Splitboard with compatible binding for boots
Ski rental locations are in Estes Park and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and pricing:
- For the customized day and intro to backcountry skiing, the max client-to-guide ratio is 3:1.
- For advanced ski touring, the client-to-guide ratio is 2:1.
- All lessons are private. Costs per person decrease as the group grows for private lessons, so it’s the perfect opportunity to ski with friends and family.
Ski touring in Rocky Mountains National Park can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to ski with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to Rocky Mountain National Park, most people fly into Denver International Airport, only 1.5 hours away from Estes Park. If you don’t drive, Estes Park Shuttle can take you to Estes Park from Denver International Airport. Estes Park is a five-minute drive from Rocky Mountain National Park.
On the day of your backcountry ski tour, you will meet your guide in Estes Park. Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. From there, you’ll head to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.