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Breaking Trail

"If you're one of those people who has only been to Estes Park in the summer, the Winter Festival is a perfect time to see what you've been missing," says Suzy Blackhurst, the town's public information officer. "Winter is our down season, so the hotel rates are extremely affordable, the trails are uncrowded, and everything is closer to the spirit of what I think of when I think of Estes Park than what you might have seen if you've only been here for the Fourth of July mayhem."

The Winter Festival is a new, free event, timed to coincide with both the third annual Estes Earth Fest at the Stanley Hotel and the long-running Winter Trails Day in Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can try out snowshoeing equipment on snow-blanketed trails for just the price of getting into the park ($20 per vehicle National Park fee). Back in town, the Winter Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and tomorrow in Bond Park, 201 East Elkhorn Avenue, with a snowman-building contest, live music, drinks from Colorado wineries and microbreweries ($20 for the tastings), and a chili cook-off ($5 for tastings) sanctioned by the Chili Appreciation Society International. The amateur competition is today, with Estes Park restaurants facing off tomorrow — and both rounds should help put fire in your belly no matter how cold the weather. For more information, call 970-586-2099 or go to
Jan. 15-18, 2010


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