Best Beginner Rocky Mountain National Park Ski Descents
Rocky Mountain National Park is a backcountry ski paradise. With dozens of classic lines, summits, couloirs, and tours, Rocky Mountain National Park is beloved among ski enthusiasts. From mellow low angle laps to some of the most thrilling drops in the West, Rocky Mountain National Park has options for all abilities of skiers from beginner to expert. With miles of untouched powder, tree runs, and high altitude drops, skiers will find something that matches their every interest. Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, a technical concessionaire for Rocky Mountain National Park, has the knowledge and the AIARE-trained experienced guides to lead you to your wildest powder dreams. Check out some of our favorite Rocky Mountain National Park ski descents.
For those who are just getting their introduction to skiing in the Rockies, Hidden Valley provides the perfect terrain for getting backcountry feet wet. Hidden Valley was the old ski area in the park that was open from the 1930’s to 1990, with open skiing above timberline near Trail Ridge Road, and dense forests underneath. Today, Hidden Valley is a favorite local backcountry ski, snowshoe, and sledding area, with powder pockets between the trees, and thrilling moderate to steep angle backcountry skiing from the old lift line, all the way to above Trail Ridge Road. Hidden Valley’s ski trails start just outside of the parking lot, with easy accessibility and less time to climb before it’s time to put the skis on and head down. For those looking for a shorter tour, or for beginners who are just learning the basics, Hidden Valley is one of our favorite mellow areas.
Banana Bowls – Flattop Mountain
High above Bear Lake, the Banana Bowls ride off the top of Flattop Mountain, with spectacular high altitude skiing and moderately angled runs that nearly guarantee powder splashes with each descent. With its east facing slopes and low angle, the Banana Bowls are generally safe to ride after fresh snow. The trail starts from Bear Lake and gains the Fern Lake Trail on a gradual but low angle climb to the top of Flattop Mountain. From the summit we’ll have overarching views of Hallett Peak, Longs Peak, and the magnificent Rockies stretching far out from the summit. From here there are several different options from low angle to moderately steep skis, depending on the ability level and the avalanche conditions of the day. This is a great opportunity to get in a first Rocky Mountain summit ski.
Meadow Mountain / Saint Vrain Mountain
Starting just off the North St. Vrain Trailhead, Meadow Mountain has fun low-angle and moderate angle terrain with spectacular views looking to Wild Basin, the St. Vrain Glaciers, and the Continental Divide. Meadow Mountain features fun high altitude lines, and access to nearby St. Vrain Mountain and an exciting moderate line down the East Ridge back to the parking lot. For those looking for more stout options, the North Face and the South Slopes offer verticality ranging from 1,000 to 1,500-feet. There are several variations including riding through the trees or dropping into the nearby bowl.
For skiers looking for a steeper challenge, Tyndall Glacier is one of the last glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park, with 1,500-feet of verticality and a relatively easy approach from Flattop Mountain. With steep lines, this is a favorite for locals in the mid to late spring. With 35 to 45 degree runs, Tyndall is beloved by skiers who are looking to ski steep lines late into the year, with the opportunity to do multiple laps. For geology enthusiasts, it’s also a great way to see the famous glaciers that carved the canyons and valleys of the park.
When travelling in Rocky Mountain National Park, even easy terrain could be considered treacherous. The general rule is ‘if it can ski, it can slide.’ It’s important to know the dangers of the park and read the conditions carefully. Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides is a provider of AIARE Level I, Level II, and Avalanche Rescue Courses, so that you’re never putting you or your partners unnecessarily in danger. Call 720 242 9828 to book your avalanche education or Rocky Mountain National Park skiing adventure today!