Adorned with the beautiful Rocky Mountains, a turquoise blue sky that always seems sunny, hundreds of little lakes, natural hot springs, wildlife, hiking, and towns that come alive at Christmas time, it’s no shocker Colorado is one of the most visited states in America — especially in the winter time. Below is a list of 5 hidden treasures and activities Northern Colorado has to offer this winter.
1. Ice Skating
Ice skating in Northern Colorado is a magical pastime. Almost every resort in Colorado offers some kind of ice skating experience, but there’s none quite like skating on the rink in the square in Fort Collins. Right before Thanksgiving, downtown Fort Collins is lit up like a wonderland, Christmas music rings in the air, and every Fort Collins staple restaurant adds a seasonal dish to their menu. Located near the rink are ice cream shops, clothing boutiques, coffee shops, restaurant, and of course, the horse-drawn carriages. The Old Town Square skate rink offers Kwik Rink synthetic ice which is the same ice that hockey players and figure skaters use. If you’re not a fan of skating, that’s okay! Sit under a heated lamp and visit with Santa through December 24. Rink admission is $2 and you can rent a pair of skates for $1. Skaters are welcome to use skates of their own as well. If you’re not from around Fort Collins, check out the outdoor rink at Estes Park, the 9,000 square foot rink at Beaver Creek at the Black Family Ice Rink, or visit one of the largest outdoor rinks in North America at Keystone Resort Dercum Square Ice Rink at Alpine Lake.
2. Ice Climbing
Ice Climbing is a winter activity meant for those who are have a little more adrenaline and seek a little more thrill than the average person. Colorado possesses many waterfalls that patrons like to ice-climb when the falls freeze over in the winter months. One of the best places for ice climbing is the mountain town of Ouray. Each year, climbers come to Ouray to scout out Ouray Ice Park as well as experience the Ouray Ice Festival in January. If you’re looking for a place closer to the Northern region of Colorado, Boulder is a popular place for ice climbing.
3. Dog Sledding
Did you know you don’t have to go all the way to Alaska to dog sled? Snuggle under a few warm blankets, bring your festive snacks (and snow goggles) because there are multiple places in Colorado that offer the ancient winter sport of dog-sledding. While taking in the breathtaking views of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains and developing a bond with your furry tour guides, you will learn and experience a form of transportation man has relied on for thousands of years. You can usually go dog-sledding from November to April depending on snow conditions. Check out Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge, Mountain Musher in Wolcott, and Grizzle-T in Steamboat for more info on dog-sledding.
4. Ice Fishing
For those who like to sit and enjoy the chilly weather, a cold beer, and catch the occasional fish, ice fishing might be right up your alley. Ice fishing doesn’t really cost a whole lot, unless you want to get a little fancy and rent an ice fishing cabin in Northern Colorado. But, if you’re into simple living, grab a comfy chair, watch the sunrise and cast your line into the lake — just make sure your cut a hole into it first. Don’t forget, in order fish in the state of Colorado, you must obtain a fishing license.
5. Snowshoeing + Cross Country Skiing
Many people just hike the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park, but did you know you could ski them? There are trails that are specifically maintained for cross country skiers, but if you’d rather walk, pack your snowshoes, because the snow gets extremely deep up in the mountains. For just $40 a year you can get a pass that lets you in the park any time you want (and it usually lets you cut in front of all the tourists in the car line at the entrance as well). If you’re not familiar with some of the trails, you can always join a ranger-led group tour.