Colorado’s reputation as “America’s Switzerland” is well deserved, but if that’s not what you need to do turns on a ski slope (or you’re still waiting for snow), there’s plenty of cool things to do during the winter months.
Here are ten places to start:
Bridgestone Winter Driving School
Want to live out your inner James Bond fantasies while watching Mount Werner and Storm Peak? Sign up for snow and ice driving lessons from professional racing drivers in special vehicles at Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat. In addition to enjoying a guaranteed great time, you get the skills you need to navigate a windswept Rabbit Ears Pass on the way home. Learn more at 970-879-6104.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
The Georgetown Loop is perhaps one of the most cinematic ways to relive Colorado’s rich mining history and see Clear Creek County’s spring and summer splendor. But its holiday train through “Santa’s Lighted Forest” has its own magic, especially when you’re inside closed, heated buses that help you forget that you and your little ones took the train at something called Devil’s Gate Depot in Georgetown. Departures run in the evenings in November and December; get details at 303-569-2030.
Skiing at Frisco Nordic Center
If what you like most about alpine skiing is how hard it is to take your dog with you, try skiing: skiing while you pull off your dog – or your horse if you have one. You can learn how through a clinic at Frisco Nordic Center, where you can also learn the basics of cross-country skiing. But please leave the horse at home. Learn more at 970-668-2570.
Denver Curling Club
Sure, you can curl year-round at the Denver Curling Club’s facility off Interstate 70 in Golden, but something about it just seems more appropriate for the winter. Although the league competition is only open to members, you can sign up for an instructional mini-league for new curlers to learn how to process brooms and stones to qualify. Grab the Denver Curling Center at 303-321-1107.
Historical Fraser Tubing Hill
What if you could have most of the fun of skiing without all the hassle of standing? Well, you can: The Historic Fraser Tubing Hill, a family-owned business since 1971, is the perfect family getaway, open to tubers over three years. The prices are affordable and the rush down the hill is invaluable. Get all the details at 970-726-5954.
Pine Creek Cookhouse
There’s nothing about Aspen that screams “roughin ‘it,” but a visit to the Pine Creek Cookhouse comes close. Sign up for a day of cross country skiing or snowshoeing up to this place for a decadent meal. And if even this kind of hard-hitting event is not your thing, the lunch and dinner service is available with an idyllic horse-drawn sleigh ride. Call 970-925-1044 for reservations.
Alpine skiing can not hold a candle to the unparalleled excitement of climbing the more than three miles of cumulatively vertical climbing terrain along the icy walls of the Uncompahgre Gorge. But if it sounds a little too intense, the gorge has a calm, supernatural feel that is worth taking in even from the ground. And a visit to scenic Ouray is always worth the trip. The free park opens in mid-December; call 970-325-4288 for updates.
Colorado Jeep Tours
While snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through a snow-covered landscape can be spectacular, driving can also be an explosion – especially when you see the Royal Gorge or Red Canyon Park from inside a skilled 4×4 while the heater burns away. Jeepture can also be combined with a ride aboard the Royal Gorge Railroad, so you can enjoy even more of Colorado’s winter splendor without having to fight the elements. Learn more at 719-275-6339.
Our Gang Ice Racing
If you have a 4WD or AWD vehicle, you can earn your official Colorado stripes by taking it out on a frozen Georgetown lake during the five-week racing season in January and February. If that sounds scary, you might be surprised at how easy it is, not to mention how friendly and accommodating the other participants are. Spectators are also welcome, but get together: This is a frozen lake in the light winter we are talking about. Learn more about the Our Gang 4 Wheelers Club online.
Downtown Denver Rink
Are you looking for a romantic winter activity that will not blow the bank or take you too far from home? You’re lucky: Downtown Denver Rink will be back with free ice skating and cheap rentals. The season starts on November 24 and runs through February 20, and if you want to freshen up your skating skills before taking a date with you, free lessons are offered every Saturday from 6 p.m. 9 to 10. Contact the Downtown Denver Partnership at 303- 534-6161 for details.
Looking for more things to do this winter? Check out westword.com/arts.
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