Winter in Colorado gives you access to diverse natural snow-covered landscapes, providing tons of winter activities. From iconic small ski towns that make enjoying snow sports accessible to Denver, a large city with delicious food, cultural events, and historic sites, Colorado has something for everyone. Here are the top winter activities in Colorado to enjoy during your trip.
Best Things to Do in Colorado in Winter
Visiting Colorado in winter transports you to a true winter wonderland. The Rockies transform into a stunning snowy playground, ideal for world-class skiing and snowboarding at famous resorts like Aspen and Vail. Beyond the slopes, charming mountain towns sparkle with festive lights and a cozy ambiance where you can sip hot cocoa and get into the holiday spirit. Colorado offers a perfect blend of adventure and serenity, from exhilarating snowshoe hikes to relaxing in hot springs. So grab your ski gear and head out to the great outdoors because these are the best things to do in Colorado in winter.
1. Go Skiing or Snowboarding
Colorado is considered by many to be the best ski and snowboarding destination in the USA. There are over 25 ski resorts in the state spread across the Rocky Mountains that have slopes for beginners, experts, and everyone in between.
Because of Colorado’s high altitude, the snow is plentiful. It can be skied from October through April and is known for being both dry and fluffy, making it perfect for skiing.
Where to go Skiing and Snowboarding in Colorado
Ski towns are scattered around Colorado, giving you plenty of options to choose from.
Vail has one of the largest resorts and some of the best and most diverse terrain in Colorado. For convenience to Denver, Breckenridge Ski Resort is the top choice for skiing in Colorado. You will be there in less than two hours from the airport (unless you are in traffic with the locals on the weekends). Steamboat Springs Ski Resort is less crowded than other ski towns and is great for families. It is less expensive than more well-known towns like Aspen or Vail. Howelsen Hill Ski Area is North America’s oldest operating ski area. It is the cheapest option and is perfect for new skiers. The Steamboat Resort provides 1,200 hectares of skiable terrain for all experience levels.
Winter Park Resort
Winter Park is definitely the most all round ski experience in Colorado. Often rated as the top ski resort in North America, Winter Park Resort is the longest continually operating ski resort in Colorado and went through a huge transformation when it was owned by Intrawest (The same company that transformed Mont Tremblant and Whistler into the dynamite ski resorts in Canada.
Renowned for its expansive ski terrain, Winter Park offers slopes that cater to all skill levels, from beginners to experts. The resort’s alpine setting is perfect for families with opportunities to explore snow-covered trails on snowshoes or enjoy family-friendly activities like tubing.
Things to do at Winter Park Resort
Winter Park Resort is so popular for the whole family because of the sheer amount of winter activities on offer. From sunset snowshoes to downhill skiing on a ski bike, if offers unique experiences. It has guided night skiing on its Ski & Ride by Headlamp tour, and even sleigh rides. Winter Park Resort is Colorado’s most complete resort if you are looking for a resort similar to Whistler with a fantastic village.
With cozy accommodations and a lively après-ski scene, Winter Park Resort is not just a place to visit; it’s an experience to experience winter in Colorado to the fullest.
2. Cross Country Skiing
If you want to go skiing but in a more relaxed way than downhill skiing, give cross-country or Nordic skiing a try. You can find solitude away from the crowds where you can better enjoy nature and get the health benefits with a low-joint impact workout. Since you do not need to buy a lift ticket at one of the ski resorts, it is also a more affordable option for skiing. Instead, you can find a place with a daily trail pass.
Where to go cross-country skiing
3. Snow Tubing
There is so much you can do to enjoy the snow beyond skiing. Snow tubing is an activity anyone can enjoy, and there are many snow tubing hills throughout Colorado. Many hills provide conveyor belts that will take you right back up the hill to come back down again, taking away most of the effort required.
Where to go Snow tubing
You can find snow-tubing hills throughout Colorado.
The Coca Cola Tubing Hill at Winter Park and the Frisco Adventure Park are both fairly convenient to Denver. We went snow tubing while staying at an all-inclusive ranch, where they pulled us up the hill using a snowmobile, so we tubed down over and over again.
4. Copper Mountain Snow Maze
Located in the East Village near the base of the Super Bee chairlift, The Copper Snow Maze is the world’s highest alpine snow maze that is made entirely out of snow. It will be returning soon on the mountain and has doubled in size with 8,000 square feet for guests to get lost in the mountains.
What’s great about this winter activity on Copper Mountain is that the Copper Snow Maze is free for anyone over the age of 3. Just sign a waiver before visiting at the Copper website.
5. Sleigh Rides
Going on a horse-drawn sleigh ride makes for a perfect family activity, or can also be a perfect addition to a romantic getaway. You can find sleigh rides that include hot chocolate, cookies, and some that will take you on to full meals.
Where to go for Sleigh Rides in Colorado
You can find sleigh rides throughout Colorado offered at many resorts and adventure centers. There is nothing quite as romantic as a sleigh ride through a winter wonderland. while sipping hot cocoa as you watch the scenery unfold.
For travelers looking for something with a little more speed and power, snowmobiling is the best activity for you. If you drive through the mountains after fresh snow you will see trucks with snowmobile trailers lining the road.
Where to go Snowmobiling in Colorado
Being new to the area and likely new to snowmobiling we recommend going with a guided snowmobile tour.
Breckenridge Snowmobiling provides snowmobiling tours and unguided snowmobile rentals in Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon, and Copper Mountain, Colorado. T-Lazy-7 Ranch and Saddleback Ranch offer snowmobiling tours throughout the winter.
7. Hot Springs
Colorado has several areas with hot springs that make for a great way to relax and warm up during your trip. A soak will be welcomed by your sore muscles after a day of skiing. Some hot springs are very true to nature while others are man-made pools fed by natural hot springs. No matter what you decide you will love taking a dip in the springs to warm up.
Best Hot Springs in Colorado
8. Horseback Riding
Horseback riding is a year-round activity in Colorado but is mostly limited to trail rides or indoor lessons. Many of the ranches offer trail rides that end with hot chocolate. You never know if you will have a sunny day with views for miles or have snowflakes coming down as you make your way through a guided trail.
Where to go Horseback Riding in Colorado
Saddleback Ranch Several guest ranches like Vista Verde Ranch include winter trail rides and lessons during the winter.
9. Relax in Your Cabin
Take advantage of the amazing cabins in Colorado in winter. With cozy fireplaces, private hot tubs, and amenities that make you feel at home while still being secluded in nature. There are tons of options available on VRBO or with vacation rental agencies, but make sure you book early as the best ones can book up to a year in advance.
Looking for a place to stay in Colorado? Check out these Cozy Cabin Rentals for your next Winter Getaway!
You can also find cabins at the dude ranches throughout Colorado. We have been to Vista Verde Ranch multiple times and have been singing their praise ever since. You stay in a cabin but get luxury meals and 5-star service. They take care of the typical winter chores like shoveling your snow for you and stocking your wood-burning stove with firewood. If it is in your budget, this is the best way to have a magical winter getaway in Colorado.
10. Spend Time in the Mile High City
Take a break from the mountains to see what Denver has to offer. The food scene in Denver is constantly evolving with new microbreweries opening up and plenty of diversity of other offerings. We have noticed several trendy food courts opening up in the area which gives you the opportunity to try several restaurants in one spot.
We enjoyed going to a Denver Nuggets professional basketball game. The Bronco’s football season goes into early winter and Colorado Avalanche plays hockey through the winter.
Since Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana in the USA, take a cannabis tour to visit a grow facility, dispensaries, and restaurants.
Winter Activities in Denver
11. Extreme Winter Adventures in Colorado
Dan did a fantastic job showcasing the best winter activities in Colorado that they did. But Dave and I want to take things up a notch and share a few winter adventures for adrenaline junkies and for those you are looking for a bit of a weekend workout or a new winter sport to try.
12. Backcountry Skiing
We have mentioned downhill and cross country skiing, but for real thrill seekers, backcountry skiing isn’t for everyone, but if you want to get away from the resorts and have the skills, Colorado offers some of the best backcountry skiing opportunities in the United States. If you don’t have experience, you can join a backcountry ski tour which is the safest option. Go with an expert guide who will scout avalanche danger and the best conditions in advance.
Even if you never skied in the backcountry, you can ski the best bowls in Colorado with a guide. Never go into the backcountry without experience or a guide. Places like Vail and Steamboat Springs offer guided tours.
Where to Go Back Country Skiing
Aspen Expeditions Worldwide (Aspen): Offers guided backcountry skiing in the Aspen and Snowmass areas, catering to various skill levels.
Colorado Adventure Guides (Summit County): Provides guided tours in areas like Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Keystone, suitable for different experience levels.
San Juan Mountain Guides (Ouray and Telluride): Specializes in guided backcountry tours in the San Juan Mountains, known for their challenging terrain.
Irwin Guides (Crested Butte): Offers custom backcountry skiing experiences in the Elk Mountains, including the famous Crested Butte area.
Paragon Guides (Vail and Beaver Creek): Known for their hut-to-hut skiing trips and backcountry tours in the Vail Valley and surrounding areas.
Rocky Mountain Alpine Guides (Rocky Mountain National Park): Provides guided backcountry skiing in the stunning terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park has numerous backcountry skiing routes, particularly around Bear Lake and Longs Peak
Don’t worry if you don’t have the budget for heliskiing, die-hard backcountry snowboarders go hiking up to the top of the bowls. It makes the reward so much more worth it!
13. Fat Biking
Mountain bikes transform to fat bikes take over in winter and is one of the best winter activities in Colorado. Plenty of places offer fat biking rentals where you can hit the trails and plow through snow. The best part? When you fall in the fluffy snow, it doesn’t hurt!
Make sure to check the local trail conditions and weather forecasts. Some trails may require specific permits or have restrictions during certain times of the year.
Where to go Fat Biking in Colorado
Crested Butte: Often regarded as one of the birthplaces of mountain biking, Crested Butte offers numerous trails perfect for fat biking in winter.
Aspen/Snowmass: offers excellent fat biking trails, with rentals and guided tours readily available. T
Durango: This area offers a variety of trails that are well-suited to winter fat biking. The Horse Gulch and Telegraph Trail Systems are local favorites, offering routes for all skill levels.
Steamboat Springs: The area around Steamboat Springs is renowned for its ‘Champagne Powder’ snow, which makes for excellent fat biking conditions. The Yampa River Core Trail and Emerald Mountain are popular spots.
Breckenridge: Breckenridge also boasts great fat biking trails, with beautiful winter landscapes. Boreas Pass is a recommended trail for a scenic and enjoyable ride.
14. Dog Sledding
Dog sledding is a fun way to get into the backcountry in winter. We love dog sledding almost as much as the sled dogs love to run on the trail. These dogs were made for winter. It is very important to book dogsledding tours with a reputable company. Read more: Is Dog Sledding Cruel? The Misconceptions of Dogsledding
Breckenridge: Known for its ski slopes, Breckenridge also offers memorable dog sledding experiences through beautiful snowy forests and meadows. Companies like Good Times Adventures provide guided tours.
Winter Park: Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park and other local outfitters offer tours through the scenic Fraser Valley, providing a mix of exhilarating rides and opportunities to learn about mushing.
15. Ice Climbing
Colorado, offers exceptional ice climbing experiences, often best enjoyed with the expertise of a guide. If you haven’t tried it before, Ice climbing can be a lot of fun. But like many of the adventures we suggest here, don’t go alone if you don’t have experience. There are plenty of places in Colorado that offer ice climbing courses and tours.
Where to Go Ice Climbing in Colorado
Ouray Ice Park: Located in the “Switzerland of America,” Ouray Ice Park boasts over 200 man-made ice and mixed climbs, and numerous guiding services operate here, catering to all skill levels.
Lake City: This area offers a variety of natural ice formations suitable for climbing. It’s less crowded than more famous spots, providing a more serene experience. Several guide services in Lake City offer personalized climbing adventures.
Vail Valley: Guided tours can take you to hidden ice falls and frozen waterfalls in the surrounding areas, suitable for both beginners and experienced climbers.
Telluride: The area offers a range of routes, and local guide services provide expert instruction and equipment.
East Vail Chutes: This area is a bit more challenging and is best suited for climbers with some experience. Local guides can provide a safe and exhilarating climbing experience.
16. Snowshoe in Colorado
Snowshoeing may not be considered extreme, but it is definitely an extreme workout. We have done a ton of snowshoeing and it is an excellent way to stay in shape. Snowshoeing can be very difficult when breaking trail but it is much easier than hiking in winter. When hiking into the backcountry you will want to strap on a pair of snowshoes to cut through the deep snow instead of falling in.
Where to Go Snowshoeing in Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park: With its stunning mountain landscapes, the park offers a range of trails perfect for snowshoeing, such as Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Emerald Lake trails.
Aspen and Snowmass: The area around these iconic ski towns provides numerous trails with breathtaking views, suitable for snowshoeing enthusiasts of all levels.
Breckenridge: Besides being a ski haven, the area around Breckenridge has great snowshoeing trails like Boreas Pass, which offer scenic vistas and a peaceful ambiance.
Vail: The Vail Valley has several trails that are ideal for snowshoeing, providing a serene way to explore the winter beauty of Colorado’s mountains.
Steamboat Springs: The area around Steamboat Springs is known for its ‘Champagne Powder’ snow, perfect for a snowshoeing adventure. The Uranium Mine Road and Fish Creek Falls trail are popular choices.
Telluride: The San Juan Mountains surrounding Telluride offer some of the most dramatic landscapes for snowshoeing, with trails that cater to all skill levels.
Crested Butte: Often referred to as the Nordic ski capital of Colorado, Crested Butte also offers exceptional snowshoeing opportunities with miles of scenic trails.
San Juan Mountains: This region, particularly near Ouray and Silverton, offers some of the most picturesque snowshoeing in the state, with trails winding through serene, snow-covered forests and alongside frozen waterfalls.
Winter Packing Tips
When planning a winter trip, you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in cold weather. Make sure to pack in layers including breathable base layers made out of Mereno Wool, a warm insulating layer made and a waterproof windproof outer layer.
You can read our full articles about winter packing here: 5 Winter Layering Tips to Dress for Extreme Cold Weather
These are all the best winter activities to do in Colorado. The Centennial state is an amazing winter travel destination. So what are you waiting for? Get outside and enjoy the snow and visit Colorado this winter.