Sally Kate Tinch
Walking in Colorado's Winter Wonderland
Colorado is synonymous with outdoor adventure, and guests travel from throughout the world to ski at its world-class resorts each winter. Downhill skiing takes top billing, with a record-breaking 14 million skier visits during the 2021-2022 ski season. But the Centennial State offers a variety of activities, both on and off the mountain, to tackle during the winter months. Whether you are searching for adrenaline-fueled adventures or a more relaxing journey, we have a comprehensive list of pursuits for you to enjoy.
Front Range Escapades Boulder is known for its active, outdoor offerings, and winter is no exception with 155 miles of trails to explore. Recommended hikesduring the chillier months include the First and Second Flatirons, Teller Lake, and Canyon Loop at Betasso Preserve. Dress in layers, bring plenty of water and snacks, and enjoy the views. Make sure to keep dogs on leash per local regulations. For an outdoor adventure near Colorado Springs with creature comforts, try a heated Polaris off-road escape with Great Outdoors Adventures through Pike National Forest. Stop for photo opportunities along the way and soak up the views. Well-behaved dogs are welcome to join through most outfitters, and fat bikes are also available to rent from local companies as well.
Evergreen offers the world’s largest outdoor Zamboni-groomed ice rink, with a dozen hockey rinks and giant skating areas on Evergreen Lake which feezes each winter. Give figure skating a whirl, join a pick-up broomball game, or sign up for a hockey league at this beautiful outdoor venue.
Fort Collins is an ideal location for activities from fat biking on snow-packed trails to snowshoeing or scenic hiking. The Poudre Canton and Horsetooth Reservoir have trails for beginners to more seasoned hikers and bikers within a short drive from town. For an indoor activity on chilly days, Fort Collins hosts Northern Colorado’s only winter farmers market. It features locally grown vegetables, cheeses, and a wide array or artisan products. The Winter Farmers Market is open each Saturday through April 23rd at the Foothills Mall.
The Botanic Gardens in Denver are situated on 23 acres near Cheesman Park, with Gardens of the West, internationally inspired gardens, water gardens, and a conservatory. This oasis in the city also hosts art classes, guided tours, yoga, and childrens’s activities at their main location on York Street as well as the outpost at Chatfield Park in Littleton.
Although Vail and Beaver Creek are known for their thousands of acres of lift-serviced skiing, another option outside the resorts is backcountry skiing. Vail Powder Guides provides rides to the top of untouched powder on a snowcat and ski thousands of acres of terrain near Vail Pass. This premier guided service ensures no lift lines, beautiful views, and countless turns. The Winter Park area has numerous options for sledding and tubing. The Rendezvous Event Center at Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park offers complimentary sledding. Sleds are available at the hill and can be checked out using the honor system. Nordic skiing options abound with over 60 miles of trails at Snow Mountain Ranch and Devil’s Thumb Ranch Adventure Center.
If you’re in Breckenridge and the mood for visiting a larger-than-life troll in the woods, look no further than Isak Heartstone. This whimsical wooden sculpture created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo is on the new Trollstigen Trailhead, easily accessible by walking, biking, or taking the Breck Free Ride shuttle. Note that the trailhead may have packed snow during winter months, so wear sturdy snow boots and make sure to bring a camera to capture photos of Isak.
Telluride is known for its free, scenic Mountain Village gondola with a 13-minute jaunt up Coonskin Ridge that provides panoramic views of 14,000-foot peaks. Another way to enjoy the scenery is on snowshoes, for a relaxing jaunt through nature. Designated snowshoe trailheads begin in both Telluride and Mountain Village. TopATen, which is located at the top of Chair 10, offers 6 miles of trails and guided nature snowshoe hikes to learn about native flora and fauna. Local companies also provide guided snowshoe adventures in the area.