Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in America and is known for its outdoor activities year-round. But where are the best places to visit Colorado in the winter? We’ve compiled a list of our top three favorite places to go when the weather gets cold that have activities for adventure seekers, families, or outdoor enthusiasts alike. Check them out below and be sure to save this page as you plan out your Colorado winter vacation destinations!
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of America’s most beautiful national parks. With a little bit of preparation, it offers a variety of activities and adventures that will keep you busy for days!
Go Snowshoeing Through the Mountains
Have you ever considered how much fun it would be to go hiking in the winter? Try snowshoeing! It’s as simple as putting on your snowshoes and grabbing a pair of poles. Snowshoeing does not require any prior experience, making it a great winter activity for beginners.
With snowshoes, you can explore most park trails. However, to help narrow down your search, 10 Adventures put together a list of the Best Snowshoe Trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.
All you’ll need is a pair of snowshoes and waterproof boots and you’re ready to hit the trails and explore one of America’s most beautiful national parks!
Glide Through the Park on Cross Country Skis
Imagine gliding through a calm forest blanketed in fresh, white snow. Cross-country skiing is a revitalizing sport that combines physical activity with the beauty of nature.
To get started, you will need skis and poles with large baskets. To keep warm, you should wear waterproof pants or a gaiter and bring some gloves for your hands.
In general, the west side of the park has better terrain and deeper snow for cross-country skiing, but you can wear your skis throughout the park.
Take the Kids Sledding in Hidden Valley
Pack up the family and head to Hidden Valley for some sledding this winter in Colorado! The only site in Rocky Mountain National park where sledding is permitted is Hidden Valley, but it is a local favorite that is worth checking out!
There are no tows available, and you must bring your own plastic sled (sleds with metal runners are not permitted), saucer, or tube (if you don’t have one, they can be rented in Estes Park at almost any outdoor store).
Once you get there, you’ll stroll up the hill with your sled/saucer/tube and then slide down. The hill is moderate, fast enough for both adults and kids to have a blast!
Go Wildlife Watching
Are you looking for something more peaceful that gets you close to nature? Then, go wildlife watching in the Rocky Mountain National Park!
Many park roads are open in the winter to allow visitors access to the park’s wintry world. You can find elk, mule deer, moose, and other large creatures throughout the winter months.
On the park’s west side, look for moose along the Colorado River. Elk and mule deer are most active at twilight and dawn and are most commonly observed in meadows. On the park’s east side, look for bighorn sheep in the Highway 34/Fall River corridor.
Steller’s jays, with their stunning blue bodies and crested heads, gray jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, and the iridescent, long-tailed black-billed magpies, are also common visitors to the park. For more information about wildlife watching in the Rocky Mountain National Park during winter, click here.
Need to Rent Equipment? Check Out These Local Shops
Traveling from out of town or need to rent gear? Look into renting snowshoes, cross country skis, and sleds at one of the local outdoor rental shops:
Tip: Rocky Mountain National Park during winter may be cold, so be sure to layer up with insulating, waterproof clothing, wear sunglasses, use sunscreen and carry water. Also, always check the park trail and weather conditions before heading out.
2. Telluride, Colorado
This city in southern Colorado is nestled among the San Juan Mountains and is known for its vibrant western aesthetic. Natural beauty and Victorian charm combine to create a unique ski town. This mountain town is sure to keep the whole family entertained during the winter, with plenty of things to do. It’s one of the best places to visit Colorado in the winter, and for a good reason.
There are several spots to ski in Telluride, and there’s a reason people travel to reach this destination. Because of the seclusion, there are typically fewer people on the slopes and fewer lines for the lifts.
The uncluttered slopes and lack of lift lines make Telluride Ski Resort a popular ski location. This resort, with over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain, has something for everyone in the family. Blissful seclusion has a new meaning here, from smooth groomed runs to lift-served backcountry.
Go Fat Bike Riding
Enjoy winter bike riding in Telluride with big tire bike rides. Cruise the Valley Floor or get a great cardio workout by climbing up Bear Creek. Paragon Bootdoctors offers half-day or full-day rentals or tours at a fair price.
Winter Fly Fishing
Throughout the year, numerous streams and rivers in the greater Telluride area are ideal for fishing. The San Miguel River offers great fishing possibilities from late February to early April.
The Uncompahgre is a great winter fishery with enough private water for a multi-day trip. Winter is a lovely season on the Telluride rivers, whether you’re taking a break from the slopes or going to Telluride, particularly for a fishing trip, a stop by the pristine rivers is a must.
Go Ice Climbing
Are you a thrill-seeker with climbing experience? The San Juan Mountains’ alpine location offers world-class ice climbing and a wide range of winter climbing options.
At 365 feet tall, Bridal Veil Falls is Colorado’s biggest free-falling waterfall and one of the country’s most famous and demanding ice climbs. We recommend getting a guide to get the whole experience and ensure a safe trip.
Mountain Climbing Guides in Telluride:
Horseback and Sleigh Rides
One of your most unforgettable Telluride experiences will be horseback riding in the magnificent San Juan Mountains. The breathtaking mountain views and wide-open spaces will refresh your spirit. You’ll enjoy riding through aspen woods and alpine meadows while taking in the beauty of nature. Or, enjoy a dinner sleigh ride under the stars for a unique experience.
Our favorite tour guides are Roudy’s Horseback Adventures or Telluride Sleighs and Wagons.
3. Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte is one of the best places to visit in Colorado in the winter. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte is a genuine jewel. It’s a five-hour journey from Denver, but it’s well worth the trip to avoid the crowds. The resort offers some of the state’s most challenging, expert terrain, as well as easy to moderate so there’s something for everyone.
Crested Butte has a mountain village and a historic downtown, and with Gunnison located only 30 minutes south, there’s plenty to do.
Skiing in Crested Butte
Crested Butte Mountain Resort is located in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, in a spectacular setting.
Expert inbound skiing, a famous butte-shaped summit, and a friendly mountain village make Crested Butte Mountain Resort a popular destination. Because it’s often less crowded, affordable lift ticket bargains and vacation packages are frequently available too.
Take a Dip in Hot Springs
Waunita Hot Springs Ranch is located just outside Crested Butte in Gunnison and is the ideal location for a unique winter escape, with hot springs, comfy lodging, and delicious meals in a quiet ranch environment. With rooms for a family get-together, a ski group, or a winter weekend away, you can’t go wrong.
Go Ice Skating
Take a break from skiing and take the family ice skating! The Big Mine Ice Arena is an outdoor covered ice skating rink situated in historic Crested Butte. During the winter, you can rent skates or bring your own and it’s free of charge to skate!
Whether it is skiing in Telluride, snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, or taking a dip in the hot springs in Crested Butte, we know you’ll have plenty to explore this winter in Colorado. Now that you know the best places to visit in Colorado in the winter, where will you go first?