Spring Break National Park Visit

Jan 18th, 2017, 08:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 2
Spring Break National Park Visit

My friends and I (College sophomores) are trying to go to a National Park for our spring break 3/11-3/18. We had planned a trip to stay in Estes Park, Colorado and go hiking in the Rocky Mountains and surrounding area, but another friend informed us that March is not a great time to visit as heavy snow would likely close roads and other hiking trails. After learning this, we are left without a plan.

1. Is it really as bad as our friend says it is? If we still went and stayed in Estes Park, would there enough stuff for us to do for a week? We were hoping to do a lot of hiking, will that even be possible if the weather doesn't cooperate?

2. Do you have any other ideas? We still have a couple of months to plan, so we are open to going somewhere else. The only problem is we cannot figure out where to go. The biggest problem for us is travel times. We live in La Crosse, Wisconsin and if possible, we would like to be in the car for less than 20 hours. Again, we are looking for a really cool place to do a lot of hiking, but we would like to stay in a city just outside of the area if possible.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. As someone who has never left Wisconsin very much, I don't know much about any of these places. Hope you guys can help!
thekolarbear is offline  
Jan 18th, 2017, 10:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,304
> Is it really as bad as our friend says it is?

A week of hiking in the Rockies in March is out of the question. Even as late as June, a lot of the trails would be iffy AT BEST. Trail Ridge Road, for example, is closed until late May; Fall River Road is closed until July.

> Do you have any other ideas?
For hiking in March, I normally suggest the desert Southwest, but that area is further than 20 hours away. You could check the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas, or MAYBE the Great Smoky Mountain NP -- the latter being the area with a lot of fire damage this fall.

If you want quiet, peaceful, meditative time with nature; then go anywhere BUT Florida for spring break.
PaulRabe is offline  
Jan 18th, 2017, 07:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 670
Yes it is as bad as your friend says, Many roads in Estes National Park are closed until the summer. January through March is skiing and snow shoeing season, not hiking season. You can find information on this on the national park service site for Estes National Park.

the great smokey national park has many trail closures on the Tennessee side due to fire damage. I would not count on the trails reopening by March.

you may want to consider the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. the weather may be ok be sure to look at the park alerts as there are some areas where you cannot drink water or use it for washing while camping you can also look for in park or outside the park lodging and weather conditions on the park service site for this park.
maxima is offline  
Jan 20th, 2017, 07:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Hi thekolarbear! My name is Josh and I work with Visit Estes Park! March, generally, is the snowiest month of the year. However, that does not mean there is nothing to do. Snowshoeing is a great option! If you can hike, you can snowshoe, the only real difference is having to dress a little warmer! Snowshoes are available for rent in many places in Estes Park for less than $10 a day! As far as road closures, the road that goes all the way across the park, Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34) is closed at higher elevations, but there are still plenty of roads in the National Park that are open throughout the winter, leading to great trail heads, Bear Lake being the most popular. If you have further questions I would urge you to check out our website VisitEstesPark.com, or shoot me an email at [email protected]

JHarms is offline  
Jan 20th, 2017, 02:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 92
As the other commentators have correctly told you, CO in March can mean serious snow. As Josh mentions, that does not mean there is nothing to do, especially if you think substituting snow shoeing or cross country skiing for hiking sounds fun. Google maps says 14 or so hours of driving puts you in Estes Park so 6 more hours puts you pretty much anywhere in CO assuming road conditions permit. Let me just relate a story from my college days (Colo State in Fort Collins). Couple buddies invited me to go camping with them over Thanksgiving 4 days (late November) southwestern CO near Wolf Creek Pass. To make a long story short, we woke up on Saturday morning to see a black sky (snow clouds). We were about 17 miles in on a Continental Divide trail. Only because the sky gave us 10 hours warning (the storm didn't start during the night) are our dead bodies not still near Wolf Creek Pass. Just food for thought.
jlub is offline  
Jan 20th, 2017, 05:22 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,882
It would be at 18+ hours from LaCrosse, but an awesome place to go would be Moab, UT. You could visit both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and on the way you could see the beautiful Rockies.
emalloy is offline  
Jan 20th, 2017, 06:06 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,866
[Just tossing this into the mix. Don't know how many of you there are...and am guessing you are 19 or maybe 20? I'd be checking out if you can get hotel room/s.]
DebitNM is offline  
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