Winter is prime time here in the Centennial State and you don’t need to ski to enjoy the fluffy white snow! I’ve spent the better part of 12 winters here in Colorado. As a local, I’ve got the inside scoop on the best things to do in Colorado in winter.
The Best Things to do in Colorado in Winter
You can still have a ton of fun visiting Colorado in the winter even if you don’t ski or snowboard. This list of the amazing things to do in Colorado this winter focuses on ways to enjoy the shorter days without buying a ski pass.
Head Out on a Snowshoeing Adventure
Colorado is home to some incredible winter hiking trails. Although the snow may shut some areas down in the winter, there’s still plenty of amazing winter trails in Colorado. Rent some snowshoes from a local gear shop and hit up one of the easier Colorado hiking trails this winter for a fun-filled day.
Local Tip: As a beginner snowshoer, make sure you understand avalanche risks. If you aren’t sure, avoid any trails that go through avalanche terrain or stick to flat areas that don’t cross under any steep hills.
Where: There are many amazing winter hiking trails in Colorado. Be sure to check out Mayflower Gulch (outside of Copper Mountain), Herman Gulch (right before Loveland Pass on I-70), Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Maroon Bells Scenic Loop Trail.
Cost: Snowshoe rentals run at about $2o per day, $25 if you need poles (recommended).
Take a Thrilling Dog Sled Ride
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a musher on a dog sled team? Now you can ride along with a dog sled team in Winter Park, Colorado. Dog sledding is one of the most fun-filled things to do in Colorado in winter. Learn about the sport and see these amazing animals in action.
Where: Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park
Cost: $195 per person
Stay in a Yurt
Escape the mundane days of winter and head to the mountains for a weekend yurt getaway! Pack the essentials and hike in a couple of short miles to the Never Summer Nordic yurts in State Forest State Park. Play games, go for hikes and enjoy the cozy feel of yurt life in a wintery wonderland.
Pro Tip: Be prepared to hike out your trash. You don’t need to bring the kitchen sink, definitely ask what the yurt provides prior to heading out. Bring plenty of tasty snacks and some fun games to play.
Where: State Forest State Park
Cost: $95 per night for a six-person yurt.
Go on a Backcountry Hut Trip
If you’re really into backcountry skiing or you love spending time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, check out one of the many 10th Mountain Division backcountry huts in Colorado. Each hut is unique, some have wood-fired hot tubs and even dry saunas! Most huts require and advanced reservation, but others are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Pro Tip: Layer up to stay warm over winter. Be prepared for the local and current conditions as you head to your hut and don’t bite off more travel time than you can chew!
Where: All over the Colorado Rockies.
Cost: Varies depending on the hut, but generally not too expensive.
Take a Snowmobiling Tour
Learn what it means to go brap brap with a snowmobiling tour in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Taking a ride on a motor-powered sled is one of the most thrilling things to do in Colorado in the winter. Snowmobile tours take you through wintery trails and lead to stunning vistas of the famous Rabbit Ears Pass. Trail tours range from beginner to advanced.
Where: Steamboat Snowmobile Tours in Steamboat Springs
Cost: $150 per person
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See the Holiday Decoration at The Broadmoor
Nobody gets into the holiday spirit quite like The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. This high-end, all-inclusive resort property is a long-coveted establishment that goes all out for Christmas. It’s one of the best places to visit in Colorado in winter. Head into the main lobby and up the stairs to see one of the most impressive gingerbread displays on the planet. At night, the grounds come alive with beautiful light decorations, outdoor fireplaces complete with s’ mores and hot cocoa. The best part, it’s free to visit!
Where: The Broadmoor Colorado Springs
Cost: Free to walk the grounds and see the gingerbread displays. Food and drink are extra.
Get Lit at the Denver Botanical Gardens
No, I’m not talking about Denver’s favorite recreation past time. However, if you’re into holiday light displays, there’s nothing more impressive than the Denver Botanical Gardens’ Blossoms of Light festival. Walk through mesmerizing, interactive light shows. Most of the scenes are non-denominational, however, the scene wouldn’t be complete without some carolers to bring the festive vibes.
Where: Denver Botanical Gardens Downtown Denver
Cost: $21 for non-members $19 for members
Go Ice Climbing
Try a new outdoor sport this winter and climb some ice. This crazy, yet super fun sport is an excellent way to see frozen waterfalls up close and personal. Hire a guide or take a lesson and learn how to top-rope ice safely. Ouray Ice Park and the Vail Valley offer world-class ice climbing opportunities for beginners and experts alike.
Where: The best place to learn is the Ouray Ice Park. They “farm” or make the ice themselves and it is a more controlled environment than ice climbing in the backcountry.
Cost: Varies. Here’s a look at guiding services that offer classes in the park. Don’t forget you’ll need to rent: Crampons, ice tools, and crampon-compatible mountaineering boots.
Enjoy a Winter Roller Coaster
Thrill-seekers need to check out the Mountain Coaster in Glenwood Springs, Colorado! This high-flying ride is an awesome winter activity in Colorado. Open year-round, you can enjoy this thrill ride any time of year, but winter is extra special as the snowy scenes fly past.
Where: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs
Cost: $42 for adults and $37 for kids but it includes a gondola ride, haunted mine drop, laser tag, and two walking cave tours.
Hit Up a Tubing Adventure Park
Skip the long lift lines and go adventure tubing at Keystone’s Mountaintop Snow Park. Perfect for families or date night, this fun-filled ride will have you smiling and laughing your way down the mountain. It’s a great way to spend some time on a ski slope without dropping tons of coin to ski.
Where: Mountaintop Snow Tubing at Keystone Resort
Ring in the New Year at a Ski Resort
So if you DO ski or snowboard, you can partake in a magical light show by partaking in a ski parade at one of many Colorado ski resorts. Snowmass in Aspen and Steamboat Springs both do a torchlight parade down the mountain complete with a fireworks display. Don’t ski? Don’t worry! Being a spectator is even more fun.
Where: Snowmass Mall and Base Village at Snowmass Aspen, Colorado
Cost: Free to watch!
Go for a Dip in a Hot Springs
After a fun-filled day of activity, head to a nearby hot spring for a relaxing soak. There are plenty of jaw-dropping hot springs in Colorado from Glenwood Springs to Steamboat Springs. A personal favorite of mine? Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat.
Where: Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs
Cost: $10, children are $5. Keep in mind clothing is optional after dark.
Experience a Magic Sleigh Ride
Feel the wind in your hair as you travel by horse-drawn carriage on this magical wintery ride. Toutes as one of the most magical things to do in Colorado during the winter, you can take a horse-drawn carriage to a beautiful dinner location nestled in the heart of Rockies. Did someone say romantic?
Where: Two Below Zero in Frisco, Colorado
Cost: $89 including dinner
Learn to Cross Country Ski
Glide your way through wintery trails with cross country ski lessons. Learn in a controlled environment and make a swift move towards nordic skiing. Nordic skiing is a relaxing, yet engaging way to experience the mountains during the winter.
Where: Vail Nordic Center
Cost: Prices vary but rentals run from $25 to $30 per day, plus a $15 day pass. Lessons are $55 for adults and $45 for kids.
Marvel at Sandstone Monuments
There is something indescribable about seeing red desert sandstone dusted in snow. With its unique landscape and quaint towns, the western slope is one of the best places to visit in Colorado in winter. Skip the crowds (and oppressive heat) with a visit to the Colorado National Monument along the Western Slope. Go for a scenic sunset drive, or head out for hike among the sandstone giants.
Where: Colorado National Monument between Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado
Cost: $15 or free with a national park’s pass
Related: Expert Tips for Hiking in the Desert
Take a Spin on Some Skates
Take a day trip just outside of Denver this weekend. Head to Evergreen Park for the world’s largest Zamboni-groomed outdoor ice rink. Take a twirl on the ice or join a pick-up hockey game. There are separate areas for skating depending on your activity.
Where: Evergreen Lake House Park
Cost: $7 to skate and $7 to rent skates
Tips for Visiting Colorado in Winter
Colorado is a great place to visit any time of year. However, if you’re looking to visit Colorado in winter, it’s important to be prepared. Here are a few Colorado travel tips to keep in mind:
- The weather can be wild in Colorado. Always be prepared and pack extra layers so you don’t get too cold!
- Avalanche danger is a real threat. Understand the avalanche risks before heading out into the backcountry.
- There are traction laws in Colorado. You are required to carry chains UNLESS you have snow tires or a 4WD/AWD vehicle. If you’re renting a car, be sure you’re following the law!
- Winter mountain traffic, especially near ski areas, is a real thing. Remember, the Denver International Airport is far from the city center and even further from the mountains. Plan plenty of extra time to get to the airport, especially if you’re driving on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday.
When it comes to things to do in Colorado in winter, you don’t need to be a ski bum to have fun. These Colorado winter activities offer plenty of thrills for any type of traveler.
Planning a trip to Colorado this winter? Here are some helpful resources:
- Colorado travel tips (coming soon)
- Colorado packing list (coming soon)
- When is the best time to visit Colorado?