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Colorado is a paradise in the winter, with a long list of things to do that go well beyond skiing on the epic slopes. In fact, many feel that the season is the very best time of year to visit the Rocky Mountain State. No matter what your idea of a good time is, you’re sure to find options on this list that will get you inspired to start packing.
Ski or Board the World-Class Slopes
What Is It? The most obvious thing to do in Colorado in the winter is ski or snowboard with the state famous for its world-class slopes.
Why Do It? Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine and more than 300 inches of snow a year while being home to some of the best ski resorts on the planet.
Good to Know: While you’ll have a long list of resorts to choose from, Vail Mountain Resort is often named among the very best, famous for its over 5,300 acres of ski terrain, providing something for all experience levels Plus, you can enjoy Vail Village and its European feel that offers an outstanding après-ski scene.
Ice Skate on the Biggest Rink
What Is It? Keystone Lake Ice Rink is one of the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor ice rinks in North America, with five acres of ice surrounded by the Rocky Mountains at Keystone Resort.
Why Do It? It’s a classic winter activity that offers breathtaking scenery as you glide across the ice. If you’re here around the holidays, festive music and lots of sparkling lights.
Good to Know: Quality skate rentals are available for those who don’t have their own.
Snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park
What Is It? While the warmer months attract countless hikers to enjoy the scenery in Rocky Mountain National Park, in the winter, the backcountry trails are ideal for snowshoeing.
Why Do It? This season offers the chance to experience a snowy wonderland where the only sounds you’re likely to hear are the songs of the birds and your feet shuffling through the fluffy powder.
Good to Know: Ranger-led group tours are available or you can pick up a trail map from one of the ranger stations.
Take a Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
What Is It? Think crisp winter air with clear blue skies, cuddling up under a warm blanket while pulled by horses across pristine snow.
Why Do It? A sleigh ride in Colorado can be a highlight of any vacation, enjoying an old-fashioned experience among breathtaking scenery, often with hot cocoa and more.
Good to Know: There are many places in the state to enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride, but Steamboat Springs is one of the best. While you’ll have multiple options, Bar Lazy Ranch offers the excursion with live western entertainment and a delicious dinner with dessert.
Enjoy the Thrill of Tubing at Keystone
What Is It? Snow tubing is a fun and easy activity for taking advantage of the great outdoors and enjoying the fresh mountain air. You’ll hop onto a big inflatable inner tube and let gravity do the work for a thrilling ride downhill.
Why Do It? Whether you prefer more gentle slopes or a heart-pounding ride, tubing is always a good time and a great way to reinvigorate the spirit.
Good to Know: There are tubing hills in many places around the state, but Keystone Resort has a multi-lane hill that sits high atop the mountain at the Adventure Point, open day and night.
Test Your Skills by Ice Climbing at in Ouray
What Is It? Ice climbing involves ascending ice formations, typically using ropes and protective gear on cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice or frozen waterfalls.
Why Do It? Ouray offers a challenge for experienced ice climbers as the ice climbing capital of the world, with thousands heading to the Ouray Ice Park every year.
Good to Know: The park is free and open from mid-December to late March In January, the world-famous Ouray Ice Festival takes place over three days to celebrate the sport.
Join a Snowmobiling Tour
What Is It? Snowmobiling is an exciting way to enjoy Colorado’s winter scenery, whizzing through open meadows and forests blanketed in snow.
Why Do It? There are opportunities in many areas across the state, including Winter Park. Grand Adventures can bring you to the Continental Divide where you’ll take in unrivaled mountain scenery with a professional guide.
Good to Know: One-, two-, and three-hour snowmobiling excursions are available with drivers required to be at least 15 years and have a valid driver’s license or permit. Passengers must be at least four years old.
Check Out the Snow Sculptures at the International Snow Sculpture Championships
What Is It? The International Snow Sculpture Championships are hosted annually in Breckenridge, a competition that brings artisans who work day and night to create some of the most incredible snow sculptures.
Why Do It? The sculptures are larger than life and a sight to behold, with skilled teams from around the world hand-carving 25-ton blocks of snow into massive and intricate works of art.
Good to Know: The sculptures are created over five days in late January with a viewing week that follows. In 2023, they’ll be carved between January 23 and January 27, with viewing from January 27 through February 1.
Try Your Luck at Ice Fishing
What Is It? Ice fishing is a popular pastime in Colorado, involving catching fish using a line and a hook through an opening in the ice on a frozen lake or another frozen body of water.
Why Do It? Ice fishing is a great way to enjoy the scenery and possibly catch your dinner, with the potential for some monster-sized fish. There are options to rent all of the gear you’ll need or join a guided trip to one of the many ice fishing locales across the state.
Good to Know: To keep warm, you can rent a heated tent or enjoy a hut with a heater that may be available depending on the location. Alpine Fishing Adventures offers fully guided trips on Lake Dillon from just before Thanksgiving through mid-May.
Ride the Winter Durango-Silverton Train
What Is It? The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers one of the country’s most memorable winter train rides on a historic coal-fired steam-operated train that was made to handle the narrow mountain routes. It includes winter trips.
Why Do It? For the holidays, visitors can take the Polar Express to celebrate the season while enjoying jaw-dropping scenery. It’s a journey to the “North Pole” that includes hot chocolate, treats, holiday songs, and even Santa himself.
Good to Know: The trips run from mid-November through early January. Be sure to get your tickets well in advance as seats sell out quickly.
Check out the Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo
What Is It? Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo is the Rockies’ biggest lighting event of the season with 70 acres of illuminated sculptures.
Why Do It? In addition to the lighting displays, there are live animal demonstrations, carolers, singing princesses, bands, the opportunity to watch ice carvers at work, and lots of holiday treats.
Good to Know: Zoo Lights typically begin in early December, running through mid-January.
Ride Copper Mountain's Mountain Coaster
What Is It? One of the longest alpine coasters in North America, open in the summer and winter.
Why Do It? It’s a fun and scenic ride with dazzling views of the Ten Mile Mountain Range while whizzing down 5,800 feet of track.
Good to Know: Come early in the day to avoid disappointment as this is a popular activity. There are minimum age and height requirements – drivers must be at least nine years of age and 52″ or taller. Passengers are required to be three or older and a minimum of 36″ in height.
Soak in Soothing Hot Springs
What Is It? Colorado is home to many hot springs that provide a soothing soak after a day of outdoor adventure. They can be found everywhere, from the famous pools at Glenwood Springs to Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs.
Why Do It? Strawberry Hot Springs is a favorite, with its natural mineral pools providing a great way to warm up in the snow while surrounded by magnificent scenery.
Good to Know: There are multiple pools, with pools closer to the spring the hottest. Those near the river will be cooler, with natural rocks separating them all. They all have sandbed floors, soothing your feet as you walk on them. Be aware that after dark, it’s adults only and clothing is optional.
Attend a Winter Festival
What Is It? Colorado hosts many winter festivals that are worth planning a trip around during the season, from the Breckenridge Ullr Fest in December and the Estes Winter Park Festival in January to Nederland’s quirky Frozen Dead Guy Days in March.
Why Do It? If you like the offbeat and perhaps downright weird, you won’t want to miss the chance to attend Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland which celebrates a Norwegian immigrant whose dead body is still frozen in a Tuff Shed. Grandpa Bredo Morsteol is in a wooden box that surrounds his coffin that holds around 1,500 pounds of dry ice. The event features coffin races, a parade of hearses, salmon tossing, a frozen t-shirt contest, frozen turkey bowling, a costumed polar plunge, and more.
Good to Know: Nederland is also known for its live music scene, offering plenty of fun after dark too.