Known for its diverse landscapes of river canyons, arid deserts, and peaking Rockies, Colorado is all about outdoor adventures. The entire state is teeming with tourism as soon as the weather turns warm and T-shirt temperatures make an appearance.
But the best part of visiting Colorado is that fun times are not just limited to warm weather. The most fun can be had during Colorado's winter season. As white powder falls from the sky, the opportunities for outdoor adventure activities multiply.
Whether your family is all about adrenaline-pumping adventures or experiencing Colorado’s charm, there’s no shortage of things to do to keep you busy in the wintertime.
Sign up for a snow mobile tour
Snowmobiling is one of the most popular activities throughout Colorado’s mountain ranges. Snowmobiling is fun and interactive, plus it’s a great way to get a hefty dose of fresh mountain air. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department is responsible for keeping nearly 3,000 miles of snowmobiling trails throughout the state in pristine shape.
If you've never ridden a snowmobile before, that's OK. Many tour providers have options for beginners, covering everything you need to know about how to operate the snowmobile and helpful techniques for easy driving. Once you've got the basics down, the tour guide will lead your group up the mountains to some of the best views in the area.
If this is an adventure for the entire family, one of the best tour providers is Grand Adventures. Their kid-friendly snowmobiling tours are a top pick for families with children between the ages of 4 and 12. Boulder Outdoor Center is another reputable provider for families heading to Boulder.
take the family on a holiday train ride
What’s better than hopping on a train that is all about providing passengers with a taste of Christmas spirit. Not much, especially when you factor in hot chocolate, cookies, and dancing elves. This is exactly what you’ll get from a ride on one of Colorado’s holiday season trains. There are several holiday train rides to choose from, including:
● Santa’s North Pole Adventure (Georgetown Loop Railroad)
● Santa’s Lighted Forest (Georgetown Loop Railroad)
● The Polar Express Train Ride (Colorado Railroad Museum)
● Santa Express Train Ride (Royal George Route Railroad)
Out of each of these holiday train adventures, you can’t go wrong with The Polar Express ride. Aside from cookies and hot chocolate, you and the kids will get to watch the dancing waiters perform as you make your way to the North Pole to see Santa.
For families who have already embarked on a Polar Express train ride and want to try something different, the next best option is the Santa Express Train Ride on the Royal George Route Railroad. Passengers wear cozy PJs as they sip on hot cocoa, nibble on treats, and sing Christmas carols.
spend the day on the slopes
Out of all the American states, Colorado is considered the best when it comes to wintertime sports. Whether you're into snowboarding, mountain tubing, sledding, or skiing, you'll be able to spend hours on end exploring the slopes.
For amazing views and serene wildlife, nothing compares to backcountry skiing. Some of the best backcountry skiing Colorado has to offer can be found at Crested Butte, which is much less crowded than the slopes of Aspen and Vail. Staying in the town gives skiers access to nearly 40 kilometers of Elk Mountain Range terrain.
For skiers, snowboarders, and sledders, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park is another top pick. Beginners should avoid certain parts of the national park since the area is filled with steep slopes, many with over 40-degree lines. Family skiers with young ones should stick to the slopes at Crested Butte.
learn the basics of ice fishing
Even if you don’t have the slightest interest in ice fishing, at least consider the possibility of catching your own dinner in the dead of winter. Hearing the creaking and snapping of ice beneath your feet as the fishing hole is drilled into the ice can be a bit disconcerting. But with the right conditions and the proper guides, ice fishing is completely safe - and a lot of fun!
Ice fishing is one of the greatest past times of outdoor lovers living in Colorado. The best time to go is between December and February since cold temperatures keep the ice from thawing. Some of the ultimate ice fishing spots in the state are a short drive from Denver, like Chatfield Reservoir, Lake Granby, and Twin Lakes Reservoirs.
hop in a horse drawn sleigh
There's nothing that can bring a smile to your child's face quite like a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. The best sleigh ride experience can be found in Colorado's Winter Park from a company called Dashing Thru the Snow. This family-owned and operated company is as old-fashioned as it gets, which becomes obvious from the traditional Santa-style sleigh.
Once you’re bundled up under warm blankets, the draft horses will pull the slight through the snow-covered trails of Winter Park. The sleigh ride ends with a session of sipping hot cocoa by a warm fire. If you’re planning a romantic sleigh ride without the kids, Dinner Sleigh Rides offers the perfect date night.
ride a winter rollercoaster
Experiencing the thrill that comes along with the twists, turns, and loops of a roller coaster ride is often associated with warm weather and ice cream cones. This isn’t the case in Colorado, where it’s possible to ride roller coasters even in the dead of winter.
The Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster is one of the most highly-rated coasters that is open all year long. It starts at the top of a mountain ridge and winds its way down nearly 3,500 feet. Riders get to experience stomach flips as they appreciate the surrounding alpine scenery.