Colorado Winter Activities

Colorado Winter Activities

So, you want to explore Colorado winter activities. You have come to the right place. Colorado is a premier destination for winter sports; the Centennial State—especially the more mountainous regions—comes alive when the temperature drops and the snow falls. Regarding skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports, Colorado has covered you with 25 world-class resorts attracting athletes and vacationers worldwide. Still, if the slopes don’t appeal to you, or you’re looking to try something new, there’s also plenty of other winter activities and events just waiting to be discovered. Check out all our activity recommendations for the non-skier. Couples, solo adventurers, groups of friends, and families will all find a winter wonderland at their fingertips. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll fall in love with Colorado during the winter.

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Colorado’s World-Class Ski Resorts

Colorado Ski Resorts Guide

If you’re looking for action or an adrenaline rush, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you missed out on Colorado’s ski resorts. With over 40,000 acres of skiable terrain throughout the state, Colorado’s world-renowned resorts draw skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, and it won’t take long for you to see just why. There’s the big-name resorts like Aspen and Vail, of course, but other, smaller resorts in Colorado also have a lot to offer, like Powderhorn, Silverton Mountain, and Wolf Creek. Many of these resorts have access to other great activities and resources, like terrain parks, tubing hills, Nordic trails, and other activities and events throughout the season. And if the main slopes don’t appeal to you, or you’re looking for a greater challenge, check out the snowcat skiing opportunities offered at some resorts, which give you the chance to get out into the backcountry from some truly epic terrain.

Colorado Winter Exhilarating Fun

Both on and off the resorts, there’s plenty of opportunity in Colorado for some heart-pumping and exhilarating fun. Snowmobile tours offer a great look at the Continental Divide or other scenic parts of the mountains that are difficult to access on foot. For a slower ride, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing—you can bring your own or rent a pair from one of the many outdoors supply companies in Colorado—to see the sights and get your workout along the more scenic route. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and want to tour the backcountry, there are many huts available for rent where you stay a night or a week to recharge and get some of the best tracks in the state. Climbing enthusiasts don’t need to wait for the snow to melt to try out some of Colorado’s amazing technical climbing areas; they can try their hand at ice climbing instead for a whole new facet of the sport. Popular destinations for ice climbing include Ouray (and the internationally famous Ouray Ice Park), Vail, Lake City, and Silverton, but options can be found all over the state.

Colorado Winter Family Friendly Activites

For a more family-friendly Colorado winter itinerary, there are plenty of hills for sledding and tubing, varying from gentle slopes to more exhilarating runs because, if you haven’t noticed, we’ve got some great terrain for downhill sports out here in the Rockies. You can find designated hills just for sledding and tubing at most major ski resorts, but there are many other great hills all over Colorado.

Families and groups looking for a less physically demanding experience, or couples looking for romance, might enjoy seeing the sights from beneath a soft blanket on a horse-drawn sleigh ride, many of which are accompanied by a delicious dinner and hot drinks. Another really fun and unique way to explore Colorado is on a dog sled, pulled by a dozen huskies through the mountainous paths of the Rockies.

Colorado Resort Towns

During the winter, towns, cities, and ski resorts around Colorado set up ice skating rinks, often in the center of town, so you can lace up and enjoy a few laps around the rink, hold hands with a loved one as you teach them how to move on the ice, or show off your wannabe Olympian skills. Many rinks are open late, especially at ski resorts, so you can enjoy them as an aprés ski activity. There are also many natural ice skating rinks around Colorado, like at Evergreen Lake, where you can skate surrounded by nature. Many other lakes in Colorado serve as excellent destinations for ice fishing during the winter, where you can sit back and tempt some fish out of the water. At the same time, you enjoy a beer or a hot beverage with friends or in the solitary tranquility of your own company. Note that fishing in Colorado does require a license.

And speaking of that tranquility, winter is the perfect time of year to take advantage of some of the amazing stargazing opportunities that Colorado provides. Some of the best locations for this will be in the southern or eastern regions of the state, far from the big cities and their light pollution. Winter is traditionally best for stargazing, and at places like the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, CO, or Last Chance, CO, out in the northeastern region of the state, you’ll see a mindblowing number of stars. Just remember to bundle up and bring a thermos of hot cocoa.

Colorado Winter Activities to Keep You Warm

But perhaps the cold doesn’t appeal to you, and you’re looking to warm up, relax, or have fun without needing to bundle up in a million layers. If that’s the case, you’re still in luck because one of the benefits of Colorado’s diverse geological terrain is the abundance of natural hot springs. From the intimate rock pools of Strawberry Hot Springs near Steamboat to the Olympic-sized swimming pool of hot, mineral spring-fed water in Glenwood Springs, you’ve got many choices regarding where you want to soak. Many of these springs are accompanied by an on-site spa, where you can indulge in a relaxing massage or other treatment to help rejuvenate you and make you feel your best. Other popular destinations for hot springs include Pagosa Hot Springs, Hot Sulphur Springs, Idaho Springs, Dunton Hot Springs, and Cottonwood Hot Springs.

You may also find a fun (and warmer!) experience waiting for you at some of the museums and art galleries across Colorado, which can be found virtually anywhere in the state. From the US Mint and the Denver Art Museum in the state’s capital to the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame in Vail, you’ll have no trouble finding indoor fun to keep you busy. Or suppose museum culture’s not your thing. In that case, you’ll still get a good taste of Colorado by visiting its many breweries, distilleries, and restaurants, which offer a fun and casual way to spend blustery winter days that are too cold to be spent outside.

Colorado Winter Events

No matter where you end up this winter, there are bound to be some great local events happening in the area. December brings the lead-up to the holiday season: Christmas markets, tree lightings, meet and greets with the big man in red himself, and tons of fun festivals featuring food, drinks, and live music. At several big ski resorts in Colorado, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve mean torchlight parades, in which hundreds of skiers and snowboarders race down the mountain with blazing torches in hand for a fun and beautiful show.

Cultural events also abound during the winter, like Breckenridge’s annual Ullr Fest to celebrate the Norse god of snow or Nederland’s charming Frozen Dead Guy Days, which celebrates a unique story in their local history with events like coffin racing and frozen turkey bowling.

There are also plenty of events that celebrate winter itself, like the International Snow Sculpture Championship, which is held each year in Breckenridge and features competitors from all over the world who build massive and beautiful sculptures out of 25-ton blocks of snow. On a similar scale of beauty, there’s Dillon Ice Castles, an incredible yearly art installation that lets you explore icy tunnels and corridors and climb through rooms bordered by the frozen towers of a man-made castle built entirely out of ice. At night, the castle is lit up in bright colors.

If you’re staying at a ski resort or you’re close by, keep an eye out for their annual calendar of events. There’s always something fun happening in Colorado ski resort towns, especially on weekends, from beer festivals to live music. Goofy competitions, like fat tire bike racing in the snow or pond skimming toward the end of the season offer a fun and exciting activity for both curious spectators and the daredevils who want to participate.

Colorado Winter Sporting Events

As one of the premier winter sports destinations in the country, Colorado is naturally home to some of the biggest events and competitions in winter sports, and if you’re around during the colder months, chances are you might run into a few.

First, there’s the X Games, one of the biggest events in the world that happens right in Aspen every January. Some of the top athletes in the world flock to Colorado for the X Games, and every event is free and open to the public, so if you’re in the area you can bundle up and watch some truly legendary skiers, snowboarders, and winter athletes show off their skills. Similarly, the Dew Tour happens every year in Breckenridge during December, and it’s also free to attend. Both events also feature live music performances from some A-list acts.

On a more niche level is the Ouray Ice Festival, which takes place every year in January. The Ouray Ice Festival draws thousands of ice climbers from near and far, who test their mettle as they climb the Uncompahgre Gorge, a one-mile-long frozen winter ice park. Spectators can watch from the top of the gorge as climbers attempt this feat, and spend their evenings eating, drinking, and dancing at the following party.

If you’re looking for a whole different type of winter fun, try the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, a huge annual event in Denver that features over 15,000 animals. You can watch horse and cattle shows, shop for a new pair of cowboy boots at the markets, or watch brave rodeo riders try to stay seated on a bucking bronco or in bull riding events. The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest stock show It takes place every year in January with events tailored for everyone.

Colorado National Parks in the Winter

The Rocky Mountains mean that Colorado has a front-row seat to some of the most incredible nature in the country, and it is home to four beautiful National Parks: Rocky Mountain National Park, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. While some of these parks are more trafficked than others (Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, while Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the least-visited), visiting them during the winter brings with it a few benefits, namely much smaller crowds.

A winter visit to Great Sand Dunes means climbing immense dunes topped with snow and great sledding. While many popular attractions like Trail Ridge Road are closed during the winter in Rocky Mountain National Park, you won’t have to deal with the tour buses and caravans of cars that pull up to popular trailheads. Your chances of spotting wildlife like moose, elk, or bighorn sheep are high. This time of year provides many photo opportunities, and your hikes will be serene. Just remember to research before you visit to check trail conditions; bring your snowshoes or cross-country skis depending on where you go.

Colorado Winter

Whether you’re spending your winter in the mountains, along the Front Range, or on the Western Slope, you’ll have your pick of accommodations, from luxury resorts in world-class ski towns to a rugged cabin in the backwoods of the mountains, with a roaring fire. Still, wherever you end up, you’ll find no shortage of fun activities to keep you busy during your stay.

Alpine Sports

435 North Park Ave, Breckenridge, CO
970-453-9623
Alpine Sports ski, board and bike rental in Breckenridge, Colorado is a family owned ski, snowboard, bike and SUP rental...
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Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge

652 Lake Dillon Drive, Dillon, CO 80435
1-800-842-5939
Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge, Dillion Near Breckenridge and Keystone, our Dillon hotel is the perfect destination for gu...
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Breckenridge Nordic Center

9 Grandview Dr., Breckenridge, CO
970-453-6855
Welcome to Breckenridge Nordic Center Family Fun Nordic Adventures Enjoy a family fun-filled adventure of cross-country ...
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Frisco Inn on Galena

106 Galena St., Frisco, CO
970-668-3224 | 855-237-4726
The Frisco Inn on Galena Discover the perfect mountain getaway at the Frisco Inn on Galena, Summit County’s premier lo...
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Frisco Lodge

321 Main Street, Frisco, CO
800-279-6000
Frisco Lodge – Your Home Away From Home  What makes the Frisco Lodge your premiere choice for your next visit to ...
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Hotel Frisco

308 Main Street, Frisco, CO 80443
970-668-5009
Nestled in the heart of Main Street, Hotel Frisco provides unparalleled access to the best restaurants, shops and attrac...
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Sandstone Creek Club

1020 Vail View Drive, Vail, CO
800-421-1098 x202
Family oriented property with fantastic pool and spa, game room, exercise room, recquetball court and library.  Full fr...
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Summit Stage

0222 County Road, Frisco, CO 80443
970-668-0999
Bus service is available seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Buses depart Frisco Station from 6:00 am to 8:30 pm for d...
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Vail’s Mountain Haus

292 E. Meadow Dr., Vail, CO
800-237-0922
Nestled along Gore Creek at the Covered Bridge in the heart of Vail Village, Vail's Mountain Haus offers luxurious accom...
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