The Outdoors,  Travel Guides

Denver Winter Outdoor Activities…if You Don’t Ski

These days, the 2022/23 Denver winter and skiing season in Colorado is near. For alpine skiers and boarders, this is an anticipated and welcomed time of year. However, the Denver winter can feel long and unbearable for those Denverites (& visitors) who do not ski. First of all, I encourage whoever has an interest in learning to ski to take a lesson. I learned when I moved to Denver 2 years ago as a 24-year-old. Anyway, this is the perfect list for nonskiers to avoid cabin fever throughout the Colorado winter. I hope it inspires you to say HELL YES when you get invited on a ski trip. There’s plenty to do and everyone should see the beauty of the Rocky Mountains in the winter. 

Ice Skating

Denver winter ice skating

First up, the most romantic option on our list. Commonly portrayed in your favorite holiday rom-com, outdoor ice rinks allow you a chance to get outside and experience the snow without much of a hassle. You can take adorable winter pictures and wear a trendy jacket while getting in some cardio. Outdoor rinks typically have skates, helmets etc. to rent on site, so no need to plan ahead here. Outdoor rinks are all over CO in the winter, but here are some favorites:

  1. Skyline Park (Denver) 
  2. Evergreen Lake  
  3. Keystone Lake 
  4. NedRINK (Nederland, CO) 
  5. YMCA of the Rockies @ Dorsey Lake (Estes Park, CO) 
  6. Several Ski Towns/Resort Bases have ice rinks as well including: Beaver Creek, Aspen-Snowmass, Crested Butte, Copper Mountain, Telluride, Winter Park, Vail, and Breckinridge. 


Now I’ll be honest about this one, I have never tried it. So, all of my suggestions here will be beginner’s and not from personal experience. First things first, find a trail. Several resort towns have Nordic Centers (e.g. Breckinridge Nordic Center)   where you can rent cross-country skis and/or Snowshoes, then hike along their multi-use trails. If you’re looking to go on a snowshoeing adventure independent of those ski towns, check out this list of trails. There are several options for renting snowshoes. The most budget-friendly option is to rent from small mountain shops like the Estes Park Mountain Shop, but you can also plan ahead and rent from larger outdoor retailers like REI in Denver. 


Next to skiing, sledding and tubing are my favorite winter activities. It gives you the adrenaline rush you’re looking for with minimal effort. Whether you make a day trip and head into the mountains or want a last-minute adventure, there are plenty of tubing and sledding options surrounding Denver. The most budget-friendly choice is obviously sledding…All you have to do is head to Target and select your favorite snow craft. Tubing will require a bit more time and some extra cash. Typically, when going tubing, you do not have to bring your own tubes as they are included in your admission price. Most major ski resort towns in Colorado offer tubing. 


Another activity on the list that I’ve never tried, but nonetheless is a popular pastime throughout the skiing season in Colorado. There are several places throughout Colorado that offer snowmobile rentals and tours to assuage your winter blues. U.S. News and World Report rounded up The 11 Best Colorado Snowmobile Tours last February.  


Denver winter hiking

Yes, hiking is still possible throughout the Denver winter. For the average hiker, the most accessible hikes are closest to the city in the front range. Once you get up into the ski towns, you’ll want to consider snowshoeing or walking along the recreational paths in town as alternatives. Typically, you have to be a skilled and experienced hiker to trek through higher altitudes in the winter months. It’s also important to keep your eye on the weather and know that many trails and roads to trailheads close during this time. If you’re not feeling confident enough for winter hiking, taking a stroll through one of Denver’s parks in the winter can be breathtakingly pleasant with snow-covered trees and freshly paved paths. Again, I’m not an expert in this area so I encourage you to take a look at this list of winter hiking options and take your pick! 

With midwestern roots, I am grateful for the sunny Colorado winters. It keeps the roads clear and encourages us to get outside without such a bitter cold. Not to mention, outdoor adventures allow us to experience the full effect of those incredible Rocky Mountain Views. So, dress in your best and warmest winter gear, grab some hot chocolate, and just go outside this Denver winter! What’s your favorite winter activity besides skiing? Leave a comment below!

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