If skiing in the winter isn’t your forte, Colorado offers many other out-of-the-box winter activities that will surely challenge and thrill. And, although the Western Slope hasn’t been blanketed with a huge amount of snow this year, there is still plenty to do, especially considering the most recent winter front that just rolled through.
If you’ve never snowshoed to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, you haven’t fully embraced the stunning off-the-grid exploration that Colorado has to offer. Between Crested Butte and Keystone, there are over 25 cabins, huts, or lodges to choose from, and some offer rates as low as $30 per person per night! An interactive map provided by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association can offer you plenty of options to choose from. Many of these lodging options have solar refrigerators and lights, along with wood-burning heat, propane burners or grills, and cisterns with pumps for water. Like a lot of VRBO-type of places, most are equipped with basic cooking utensils, bedding, and some toiletries. You will be provided with detailed maps to hoof it to your destination since they often have no motorized access and the only sounds you’ll hear are of nature.
Another experience you won’t want to miss is the winter wonderland ice parks in Colorado. Just south of Montrose is Box Canyon Falls in Ouray where you will find 100’ frozen waterfalls within the narrow walls of the canyon. Although the visitor center is closed in the winter, there is still plenty to see, including the widely popular annual ice climbing festival. If you want to venture further than the Western Slope, the Dillon Ice Castles near Keystone are an adventure for the whole family. Usually open between Christmas and mid-March, the fortress of over 25 million pounds of ice consists of interactive tunnels, slides, and towers with different colored LED lights to enhance the experience. Although the park is closed for the 2021-2022 winter, it is said to reopen in a new location next winter, so make sure to enjoy that.
Lastly, if you really want a bucket list activity, dog sledding is a must! Monarch Pass offers guided dog sled tours and will show you how to harness your own dog, give commands, and even drive the sled. Private tours last around 30 minutes riding through the snowy national forest, and although they are little on the spendy side, you’ll enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime romp at 13,000’ elevation surrounded by forests, streams, beaver ponds, and old cemeteries. Since the sled sizes are limited to 2-4 people at a time, it is the perfect winter jaunt bundled up with a significant other.
Although we’ve only touched on the out-of-the-box winter experiences in Colorado, you’ll be sure to find many more if you know where to look. And don’t forget to dress warmly with lots of layers to protect you from the elements.
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