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Best Things to Do for Thanksgiving in Colorado

If you’ve got family coming into town for Thanksgiving weekend this year, you most likely have more than just a meal to plan. Or maybe you’re staying in this Thanksgiving and looking for something to keep you occupied, or something that will stop the kids from developing cabin fever on their extra days off from school.

Thanksgiving is a great time to enjoy a delicious meal, spend time with friends or family, or simply take advantage of a couple of days off. It’s also a great time to get out and take advantage of some of the events, festivities, and activities that Colorado has to offer, and here are just a few to get you started.

Turkey Trot

Work Off That Thanksgiving Feast!

Sign up for the annual Denver Turkey Trot, an affordable run that draws over ten thousand participants each year. Money raised from this particular Turkey Trot goes toward the United Way, so you’ll be helping out a great cause, but if you’re not in Denver, there are similar events located throughout the state, like the Turkey Trot 5K in Colorado Springs, the Turkey Day 5K Fun Race in Frisco, or the annual Durango Turkey Trot. Some of the events take place on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, and others take place over the weekend, so you can choose whether you want to get a head start on that workout or pay for all that pumpkin pie after the fact.

Hit the slopes

Hit the Slopes

You know what makes a lot of Coloradoans thankful each year? The ability to get their money’s worth out of their ski passes. If you need to work off some of those calories from the Thanksgiving feast, there’s no better way to do it than at one of Colorado’s world-class ski resorts. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is when most of the big resorts open for the season, but thanks to some early snow this year, many of Colorado’s ski resorts are already up and running by now. Most of these resorts will be open on Thanksgiving Day itself, so if bingeing on turkey and mashed potatoes isn’t your thing, you can beat the crowds by heading out to the slopes to ski or snowboard while everyone else is still sleeping off their tryptophan-induced comas. Some of the big guns are still holding out for Thanksgiving weekend, though, so if you want to get in on the freshest snow and the first turns of the season, the resorts listed below will be open during Thanksgiving week:

ASPEN MOUNTAIN - November 23
BEAVER CREEK - November 24
BRECKENRIDGE - November 11
COOPER - November 17
CRESTED BUTTE - November 24
ECHO MOUNTAIN - October 14
KEYSTONE - November 7
LOVELAND - October 31
PURGATORY - November 23
SNOWMASS - November 25
TELLURIDE - November 23
STEAMBOAT - November 23
WINTER PARK - November 17
WOLF CREEK - October 16
VAIL - November 11

Besides these fun openings, the majority of Colorado’s ski resorts are already open for the season, with a few that are scheduled to open in December. Below are the opening dates for the rest of Colorado’s ski resorts for the 2022-2023 season:

BUTTERMILK - December 12
ELDORA - November 18
GRANBY RANCH - December 10
HESPERUS - December 17
HOWELSEN HILL - November 26
MONARCH - December 11
POWDERHORN - December 14
SILVERTON - December 25
SUNLIGHT - December 9

Denver Botanic Gardens

Get a Head Start on the Holiday Season

Obviously, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a perfect opportunity to take advantage of holiday deals and start crossing items off those Christmas shopping lists, and local retailers all throughout the state will undoubtedly be taking part in the excitement. But even if shopping isn’t your deal, there are still plenty of ways to get into the holiday spirit on Thanksgiving weekend. At the Denver Botanic Gardens, you can enjoy a nighttime jaunt through the winding paths of the gardens at Blossoms of Light, an annual event full of gorgeous lights and steaming mugs of hot cocoa, and in Georgetown, guests of all ages, but especially families with kids will love taking a ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad to see Santa’s Lighted Forest, and meet the big man in red himself! Every Thanksgiving weekend, Estes Park showcases its annual Catch the Glow Holiday Celebration, complete with hay rides, holiday shopping, and a grand parade, and in Pueblo, the Parade of Lights features over one hundred intricate parade floats, performers, and more, all lit up in their holiday finery. Thanksgiving is truly the start of the holiday season, and the long weekend after Thanksgiving is a great time to see the cities and towns around you light up in celebration.

Hiking in snow


REI is a big name here in Colorado, where our outdoor activities range from ice climbing to white water rafting and everywhere in between. Every year since 2015, REI pointedly closes its doors on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, and encouraged its employees and customers to #OptOutside instead of taking part in the massive consumerist extravaganza. This year, they’re adding to that initiative, with Opt to Act, a challenge for people to not only get outside, but to give back to the community and nature around them by cleaning up trash in local parks and on trails.

Whether you decide to give back to nature or simply enjoy it, there’s a whole world of beauty and fun here in our fine state, and Thanksgiving weekend is a wonderful time to explore it. Get ready for a weekend of adventure as you take the family for a hike—or, depending on the weather, a snowshoeing excursion—or enjoy a scenic drive to one of Colorado’s four national parks. Try and spot some wildlife, build a snowman in a park, take the dog for a walk in the woods, or go for a scenic trail run to work off some of that delicious pumpkin pie. Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the world (okay, maybe we’re a little biased…), and what better time is there to stop and take it all in than over Thanksgiving weekend?

Choose Your Own Adventure

When it comes down to it, Thanksgiving in Colorado is a great excuse to spend time with the people you love, doing something fun. Maybe that means sitting around the kitchen table playing cards, tubing or sledding at a nearby park or recreation area, touring a local brewery or distillery, or maybe even something like taking a dog sledding tour or bundling up and driving to the middle of nowhere to see the stars light up the night sky. No matter how you’re looking to spend your long weekend, there’s plenty of things to do in Colorado for Thanksgiving, and that is most definitely something to be thankful for.

by Emily Krempholtz

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