Searching for a bucket list for all things must-do during a Colorado winter? Tis’ the season when mountains are covered in a thick sheet of white snow, and the activities at our fingertips drastically shift. Luckily, in a state as magnificent as Colorado, there’s no shortage of epic adventures to take no matter the time of year. After all, we have the Rocky Mountains as a playground, four National Parks, and many more hidden gems that a lot of people don’t even think about when they think about Colorado! So whether winter is your cup of tea or no, I can guarantee you will want to check out at least a few of these Colorado winter bucket list items! Let’s get into it.
1. RIFLE FALLS ICE CAVES
While it’s a bit of a drive from Denver, this ice caves are well worth the travel! Located near the town of Glenwood Springs, you will enter Rifle Falls State Park (be prepared to purchase a park pass if you don’t have an annual one). Ask for a map, and head towards the ice caves. Hop on Koper’s Trail – you’ll weave in and out of different ice caves. But be warned, you do NOT want to attempt this trail without microspikes or snowshoes!
2. STAY IN A YURT
One of the coolest winter activities you can enjoy in the mountains is staying overnight in a yurt. Yurts are heated with a wood-burning stove, and have only the bare necessities (sink, table, bed, and sometimes a toilet/outhouse outside). While it’s no 5-star hotel, the experience is cozy, adventure-filled and unique! Keep in mind that all yurts require reservations, typically several months in advance. Finding yurts requires a bit of research, so that’s a topic for another day. Bonus points if you have to snowshoe or hike in to your yurt for the night!
3. ICE SKATE LAKE EVERGREEN
For an easy one to check off with minimal travel required, plan an ice skating day on Lake Evergreen! Evergreen is a quaint town located 45 minutes west of Denver. It’s an idyllic location for a quick mountain getaway without an overnight stay required. Every year when Lake Evergreen ices over, ice skating once again commences! You can find out more information on rentals, tickets and events HERE. Make a day of it by spending some time in the cute town of Evergreen. Enjoy local food, beer, wine, or coffee and checking out nearby shops!
4. RIDE A CHRISTMAS TRAIN
This is such a magical experience at all ages! There are several locations in Colorado that offer train rides through various mountainous areas. If you time it right around the holidays, you’ll have an even more festive experience! The top railroad locations I recommend are Georgetown, Royal Gorge, or Silverton. Each offer completely different views and experiences.
5. STRAWBERRY HOT SPRINGS
Strawberry Hot Springs are some of the most famous hot springs in all of Colorado- and for good reason! Located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the backdrop while soaking in the massive pools of naturally hot water is just gorgeous. While there is a small entrance fee, this certainly doesn’t stop the masses from flocking to Strawberry Hot Springs year round. The winter is an especially beautiful time of year to enjoy the hot pools! You can find even more information HERE.
6. SKI AT A COLORADO RESORT
It’s so surprise that in a state like Colorado, skiing would absolutely make the winter bucket list! People come from all over the world to ski at Colorado resorts such as Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Steamboat, Telluride, Keystone and Winter Park. So whether you’ve never skied in your life, or you grew up on the slopes, this is a winter must-do (at least once in your life!). If you are completely new to skiing or snowboarding, be sure to invest in a lesson. This will provide the necessary foundation for taking on the snow-covered Colorado mountains, which are no joke! Even if skiing/snowboarding is not your thing, spending a day at a ski resort still offers plenty of fun. Ride the gondola, enjoy the local village, and hangout at the ski-in-ski-out restaurants/bars!
7. SPEND A DAY AT VAIL VILLAGE
While each mountain town as its own allure, Vail village is especially festive and visit-worthy in the winter. You’ll likely feel a bit like you’re entering a European country as you walk around the village. You can enjoy countless restaurants, bars, shops and an ice-skating rink in the center of the village. One of the best parts is, it’s just a 1.5 hour drive from Denver, making a day trip quite doable!
8. TRY SNOW TUBING
A great alternative to skiing or snowboarding is tubing! Most resorts offer this for people of all ages. So if you have a group of friends that don’t have ski equipment, or aren’t interested, check out tubing instead! Some of the best resorts for tubing include Winter Park, Echo Mountain, Keystone, and Breckenridge.
9. CUT DOWN A CHRISTMAS TREE
One of my favorite Christmas traditions that’s developed since moving to Colorado is cutting down our own tree each year! But before you hop in your car to find the perfect tree, make sure you have proper permitting! Permits for Christmas tree retrieval can be found HERE. While they are a bit more work and a bit messier, making an experience out of it is so fun! Plus nothing beats the smell of a real Christmas tree!
10. IRON MOUNTAIN HOT SPRINGS
Another amazing hot springs experience can be found at Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. While the famous Glenwood Hot Springs tend to get the spotlight due to their size, I find Iron Mountain Hot Springs to be a more relaxing and enjoyable experience. These are not your average hot springs in the wild. You can enjoy adult beverages, food, and multiple small “hot tubs” with a view! While I tend to enjoy less commercialized hot springs, I had an incredible experience here and highly recommend it.
I hope this Colorado winter bucket list gives you some serious inspiration for ways to enjoy nature year round in this beautiful mountainous state! I'd love to know which you've already done and which you're going to try this year! Tell me in the comments!