Chimney Park

Medicine Bow National Forest—Chimney Park Cross Country Ski Trails
Location: Mountain Home, Wyoming
Length of visit: 1 to 3 hours
Major draws: Wildlife, cross country skiing, snowshoeing
Strenuosity: 4 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $5 per day or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: High elevation, cold temperatures
Description: Flat area off Highway 230 groomed with miles of cross country ski trails through lodgepole pine forest.  We have seen moose and lynx tracks in the snow here previously.

Bottle Creek

Medicine Bow National Forest—Bottle Creek Cross Country Ski Trails
Location: Encampment, Wyoming
Length of visit: 1 to 2 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, snowshoeing, cross country skiing
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Icy roads, high elevation, cold temperatures
Description: Area popular with snowmobilers, which are barred from marked cross country ski trails.  Steep routes easier for snowshoeing than skiing.  Brush Creek area on Highway 130 recommended for skiers.  Both sites within 30 miles of the free hot springs pool in Saratoga, Wyoming.

Arapaho National Recreation Area

Arapaho National Recreation Area
Location: Granby, Colorado
Length of visit: 1 to 4 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, wildlife, snowshoeing, cross country skiing
Strenuosity: 5 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $5 per day or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Icy roads, high elevation, cold temperatures, route finding may be required
Description: Lake Granby within Arapaho National Recreation Area is popular with snowmobilers and ice fisherman.  Road to Monarch Lake (closed in winter) provides access for multiple trails into high elevation Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Fraser Experimental Forest

Fraser Experimental Forest
Location: Winter Park, Colorado
Length of visit: 1 to 4 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, snowshoeing, cross country skiing
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Icy roads, high elevation, cold temperatures
Description: Roads within Fraser Experimental Forest are closed in winter and turn into routes for cross country skiers and snowshoers.

Emerald Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park—Emerald Lake
Location: Estes Park, Colorado
Length of visit: 1 to 3 hours
Major draws: Scenic views, snowshoeing, wildlife
Strenuosity: 6 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 per day or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Icy roads, high elevation, cold temperatures, snowshoes or snow cleats recommended, route finding may be required in fresh snow
Description: 2-mile one-way trek to Emerald Lake past Bear, Nymph, and Dream Lakes.  If no fresh snow, then snowshoes not required.  Many other trails depart from busy Bear Lake Trailhead.

Aztec Ruins

Aztec Ruins National Monument
Location: Aztec, New Mexico
Length of visit: 1 to 2 hours
Major draws: Ruins, museum
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $5 per person or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Low doorways
Description: Reconstructed great kiva unique to National Park Service sites.  Ruins near Animas River in town of Aztec, named in mistaken belief that structures were built by Aztecs of Mexico.

Angel Peak

Angel Peak Recreation Area
Location: dirt road east of Highway 550 south of Bloomfield, New Mexico
Length of visit: 1 hour to overnight
Major draws: Scenic views, free campground
Strenuosity: 0 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Sheer cliffs, no shade
Description: Bureau of Land Management site offering scenic overlooks and free campground between city of Farmington and Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

 

Chaco

Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Location: dirt road west of Highway 550 south of Farmington, New Mexico
Length of visit: half to full day
Major draws: Ruins, wildlife, scenic views, petroglyphs
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $16 per vehicle or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Remote location, no shade, ruins closed at sunset
Description: Best collection of Ancestral Puebloan architecture in the Southwest.  Multiple great houses can take days to fully explore.  There is a small primitive campground at the park.

Bisti Wilderness

Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness
Location: dirt road between Highways 371 and 550 south of Farmington, New Mexico
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Scenic views, badlands, arch, wilderness
Strenuosity: 4 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: No marked trails, no facilities, no shade
Description: Bureau of Land Management runs this large area of badlands in a remote section of northwest New Mexico.  A true “explore on your own” experience.

 

El Morro

El Morro National Monument
Location: Highway 53 east of Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico
Length of visit: 1 to 2 hours
Major draws: Petroglyphs, historic carvings, ruins, scenic views
Strenuosity: 4 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: High elevation
Description: Collection of rock art from prehistoric to Spanish and American explorers.  Steep and rough trail to ruins on top of bluff worth the effort for scenic views.