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All four seasons in Colorado provide outdoor enthusiasts with adventure. Spring, summer, and fall, however, are highly anticipated as locals and visitors rejoice in 300+ days of sun by flocking to experience the splendor of the state’s mountains and national parks. As mountain towns burst to life after the snow melts, people find solitude from the hustle and bustle to embrace nature and revel in the outdoors. There’s no better place to do that than Winter Park, the western mountain gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The crown jewel of the state, Rocky Mountain National Park is the most driveable, hikeable, and accessible national park in Colorado. A massive area of 265,761 protected acres, the park is split by the Continental Divide, which gives the east and west sides unique character. Home to the 46-mile Trail Ridge Road, the scenic highway to the sky, it is the highest paved road in the United States and a beautiful drive.

Just 67 miles from Denver, you can access the park through the west via Winter Park. A quaint yet bustling town with camping, cabins, lodges, condos, and vacation rentals, Winter Park is the perfect basecamp for a trip back to nature.

Hiking Rocky Mountain National Park

Home to 415 square miles of spectacular, protected mountain environments with high alpine lakes, stunning vistas, and deep valleys, you could spend days traversing the park on foot. With over 350 miles of trails that range from flat, easy hikes around mountain lakes to challenging multi-day backcountry trips and climbs, you’ll see sights like the roaring alluvial fan and Longs Peak. Regardless if you’re new to the high altitude of Colorado or an avid outdoorsman, there’s something for every endurance level, whether you’re looking to chase waterfalls on a scenic family stroll or tackle the only 14,000-foot peak north of I-70. There are even hikes that are wheel chair and stroller accessible.

For more immersive trips to the park, backpacking outings range in difficulty and distance, but you can always take the hikes slower to extend your time in the wilderness. Be sure to stop by Wildland Trekking Outfitters to gear up and consider booking a guided expedition for inside knowledge about the wildlife, ecosystem, flora and fauna of the area.

Photo Credit: Zach White

Get Off Your Feet

When you’re ready for a change of pace, outfitters in the area can set you up with a number of outdoor pursuits like fly fishing, mountain biking, and white water rafting. Water sports are plentiful with rafting, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding being a great way to explore the lakes and rivers. Winter Park has also been called Mountain BikeCapital USA™ with more trails than you could possibly ride in a lifetime. For some real high altitude fun, hit the zipline or see the epic Rocky Mountain landscape aerially on a hot air balloon ride. For family fun, Winter Park's summertime offerings include tubing, an alpine slide, human mazes, and other obstacle courses.

Hole up in Winter Park

Whether you’re searching for wildflowers in the spring, lush greenery in the summer, stunning fall colors in autumn, or epic skiing in the colder months, Winter Park is an idyllic escape any time of the year. Friendly locals can provide you with insider recommendations upon arrival, or you can take a look at some of their favorite day hikes on A basecamp equipped with lodging to suit any travel style and all the comforts of a mountain town, from spas to shopping and a plethora of dining, drinking and relaxation options, Winter Park makes the escape to the wilderness that much more enjoyable when you have a cozy place to come home to.