Winter in Colorado: 11 Incredible Desintations to Add To Your Bucket List

Last updated:
Photo of author

Colorado, with its snowy mountains, steamy hot springs, and charming historic villages, is the perfect place for a winter getaway. While most people think of Colorado as a skiing and snowboarding destination, it’s so much more than that, offering plenty of adventures—both with and without snow—during the colder months. So throw on some cozy layers and let’s hit the road—here’s 11 incredible places to have an epic time during winter in Colorado.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission, for which we are extremely grateful, at no extra cost to you.

Couple sitting at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado during the winter
Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

1. Breckenridge

Breckenridge is a wonderful destination during the winter in Colorado, offering a perfect mix of outdoorsy adventures and small mountain town charm. Whether you’re a beginner or avid skier or looking for something that doesn’t involve hurtling yourself down a mountain (*raises hand sheepishly*), you’ll have endless things to do here. 

The Breckenridge Ski Resort has 2,900 acres of skiable terrain with 187 trails for different skiers and snowboarders of all levels. With an excellent ski school for beginners and dozens of expert trails, the opportunities to get out and enjoy the powder here are endless. 

Snow covered hill with mountains in the background of Breckenridge, Colorado in winter

If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the snowy Rockies by taking the free(!!) gondola ride that starts downtown and glides all the way up to Peak 8. With plenty of food options, indoor and outdoor seating, and a handful of bars to choose from, the views from the top of the gondola are breathtaking. This is the perfect spot to watch the professionals (and amateurs) swish down the mountainside while you relax and unwind.

Alternatively, for a more active adventure, consider joining this fat tire bike tour, where you’ll learn about this mountain town from your local guide as you pedal your way through the scenery (yes, even in snow!) and stop at the town’s brewery AND distillery. 

For more family-friendly fun,  there are several areas to go snow tubing near Breckenridge. For example, Copper Mountain is just 20 minutes away and offers an automatic lift so that you don’t have to huff and puff your way up to the starting point. For a free alternative, head to the town’s Carter Park, where all you need is a sled, some mittens, and hot cocoa! 

Snow on the ground with pine trees and mountains in the background in Breckenridge, Colorado in the winter

When you get tired of all that snow (Breckenridge gets nearly 30 feet of snow each winter!), head back to the downtown area for shopping at local stores selling eclectic gifts, outdoor gear, and locally made items. Pop into one of the many dining options along Main Street for a warm and toasty atmosphere, a hot delicious meal, and a tasty beverage or two!

  • Average daily high and low in January: 32° F/ 0° F
  • How to get to Breckenridge: The Denver International Airport is located 95 miles from Breckenridge, with a variety of shuttles, like this option or this round trip option, that can bring you all the way to the town from the airport in about two hours. Alternatively, for more flexibility, you can choose to get a rental car and drive yourself, but, to be honest, most visitors find little use for a car once they arrive in Breckenridge. 

    The town is very walkable, and most hotels offer free shuttles to get around. It’s also worth noting that visiting Breckenridge, like many places in Colorado in the winter, will require snow chains in some areas, especially when going over the sketchy mountain passes. Nothing ruins a trip to Colorado quite like hitting a patch of ice and careening off a cliff in your rental car. 
  • Where to stay in Breckenridge: The Beaver Run Resort is an excellent option, with close proximity to town, an enormous hot tub to relax in apres-ski, and an onsite spa if you’re feeling indulgent. 

Recommended by Erin of the Simply Salty Life

2. Steamboat Springs

While Colorado has over 30 ski resorts, only one claims the distinguished title of “Ski Town USA”—Steamboat Springs. Even if you’re not a skier, this gem, tucked into the northwest corner of the state, is an absolute must-visit during winter in Colorado.

The most popular thing to do in Steamboat in winter is to hit the slopes at the Steamboat Mountain Resort. This ski resort is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere and the legendary quality of its snow, which has even earned its own name—champagne snow. 

Gondola at Steamboat Mountain Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in winter

Due to Steamboat’s geographic location, its snow is much drier than other ski resorts in Colorado, making it airy and fluffy. It earned its nickname in the 1950s when a skier commented that the snow “tickled his nose like champagne.” Now, people flock from all over the world to ride on Steamboat’s famous powder! While Steamboat is regarded as one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for beginners, there’s plenty to keep seasoned experts busy as well, with a whopping 650 acres of advanced/expert terrain.

Not a skier? Not to worry—there’s still plenty of winter fun here that extends beyond its slopes. 

There are dozens of incredible snowshoeing trails or ice skating at the outdoor Skeeter’s Ice Rink, which has free admission (although rentals cost) with views of the surrounding snow-covered Rockies. For something a bit more adrenaline-pumping, consider joining a snowmobiling tour, like this one or this more adventurous option

Man Nordic skiing through the snow with pine trees and mountains in the background in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in winter

Regardless of what kind of outdoor adventures you’re getting up to, head to either of the town’s two hot springs—Strawberry and Old Town—to relax. There’s something incredibly cozy about soaking in steamy hot water as you breathe in the crisp air and take in the sights of the snowy mountains around you.

  • Average daily high and low in January: 30° F/ 8° F
  • How to get to Steamboat Springs: You can either fly into the teeny Yampa Valley Regional Airport in the town of Hayden and drive 30 minutes to Steamboat. However, you’ll likely score much cheaper airfare (we swear by using Skyscanner!) if you fly into the Denver International Airport and make the three hour and 15 minute drive. 
  • Where to stay in Steamboat: The Nordic Lodge has impeccably clean and simple rooms with excellent proximity to Steamboat’s best bars and restaurants. Plus, there’s an outdoor hot tub to indulge in if the town’s hot springs aren’t enough for you!

Recommended by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

3. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is the least visited national park in the state, which is a massive oversight, in our opinion! With dramatic cliffs, craggy spires, and rushing rivers, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a hidden gem that becomes even more stunning during the winter in Colorado. 

The park can receive up to 55 inches of snowfall each year, covering its landscape in a blanket of white. While the snowfall makes parts of the park inaccessible to vehicles, other sections turn into a winter wonderland that’s perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. 

Black Canyon covered with snow in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado in winter

If you don’t happen to have your own gear, there’s several outfitters in the nearby town of Montrose where you can rent equipment. Alternatively, if there doesn’t happen to be a lot of snow on the ground, you can hike it—just make sure you have good waterproof boots (like this pair for women or this pair for men), microspikes, and gaiters to keep the snow out of your pants.

In the park, head first to Gunnison Point, which is located right behind the visitors center and offers one of the most stunning views of the Black Canyon. 

The main road, South Rim Road, is closed to vehicular traffic in the wintertime and is the best place in the park to go snowshoeing or cross country skiing. You’ll typically find cross country ski tracks to follow (friendly reminder that snowshoers should not walk on the skiers’ track!). 

Along the road, you’ll find 12 viewpoints, with different perspectives of the dramatic canyon, whose walls tower up to 2,250 from the floor below. In total, the road is seven miles long, but you can choose to go as far as you want. If you’re up for a real wintertime adventure, consider backcountry camping along the rim. It’s allowed anywhere past the second overlook (although a permit is required!).

Even if you’re not one of the hearty souls that wants to pitch a tent in several feet of snow, be sure to hang out after night falls to partake in some stargazing. Due to its remoteness, it’s an International Dark Sky Park and the clear winter nights can offer some of the best views of the Milky Way. 

River at the bottom of the Black Canyon at Black Canyon National Park in Colorado
  • Average daily high and low in January: 44° F/ 18° F
  • How to Get To Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: The closest airports are either Telluride (one and a half hours away) or Moab (three hours away). Alternatively, for the cheapest airfare, the closest international airport is Denver, about five hours east of the park.
  • Where to Stay at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: The Stone House Inn, in the nearby town of Crawford, is a charming guesthouse, with friendly and attentive owners and cozy beds. 

Recommended by Francesca of Homeroom Travel

4. Durango

Located in southwestern Colorado sits the underrated city of Durango. While it may not be as popular as some of its neighbors, like Telluride, Durango still holds plenty of charm. There’s tons of unique things to do in the city, from skiing to one of the most beautiful train rides on the planet. 

While you’re in Durango, head to the nearby Mesa Verde National Park ($30 per private vehicle for a one-week pass to the park or FREE with the America the Beautiful Pass), which is known for having over 600 impeccably preserved Puebloan cliff dwellings that date all the way back to 600 AD. While some of the park’s attractions are closed, there’s still plenty of things to do, such as driving along the six-mile Mesa Top Loop Road, which passes the remains of early pithouses and multi-storied cliff dwellings, or hiking the 2.4 mile Petroglyph Point Trail, which leads you to the park’s only accessible petroglyph site. It can get pretty icy in the wintertime so remember to bring microspikes!

Cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado

The most bucket list-worthy activity while visiting Durango is going for a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Dating all the way back to the 1880s, this 45-mile route snakes through the San Juan Mountains from Durango to Silverton and is widely considered to be one of the most scenic train rides in the world! 

If you’re looking for some more traditional winter activities, there’s three ski resorts within a half hour drive from Durango. The closest resort is the Hesperus Ski Area, which is located 11 miles west of Durango and offers 26 trails on 60 skiable acres. This resort is definitely smaller and has more of a local vibe, with its lift tickets being less than a quarter of the price of many of the larger ski resorts!

Snowy mountains and pine trees at a Hesperus Ski Area in Durango, Colorado in the winter
  • Average daily high and low in January: 39° F/ 11° F
  • How to get to Durango: Durango has a small regional airport with direct flights from a handful of cities. Alternatively, the closest international airport is the Albuquerque International Sunport, about three hours and 45 minutes south. 

    Pssst… if you’re driving to Durango, consider doing a southwest Colorado road trip and make other stops at other gems in the area at places like Telluride, Ouray, and Silverton. 
  • Where to Stay in Durango: Located in downtown Durango, The Strater Hotel is a super charming and historic hotel that dates all the way back to the 1890s. It’s home to the Diamond Belle Saloon, the town’s only Old Western-style saloon and the perfect place to warm up after spending time out in the cold!

Recommended by Adam and Kathryn of Adventures of A+K

5. Grand Junction

If you’re looking to escape the snow during the winter, then head to Grand Junction on Colorado’s Western Slope. Nestled between the snowy Rocky Mountains and the endless canyons of the Colorado Plateau, this underrated high desert destination has year-round outdoor adventures for all kinds of travelers. 

Winter in Colorado is one of the best times of year to visit Grand Junction if you’re looking for crowd-free and snow-free hiking and mountain biking trails. To enjoy one of the best hikes in Grand Junction, head to Colorado National Monument to hike the Monument Canyon Trail for jaw-dropping views of the surrounding rock formations. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep along the trail and make sure to give them plenty of space if you see any. Another popular option is the Devil’s Canyon Loop Trail, with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding canyons and mesas. 

Snowy rock formations in Grand Junction, Colorado at sunrise

Grand Junction sits at about 4,500 feet above sea level, so it still definitely gets cold during the winter. However, it does not receive as heavy snowfall or have as harsh temperatures as many of the other popular destinations in Colorado, which are typically at higher elevations. Snow isn’t uncommon during the winter, but it’s not a regular occurrence and typically melts quickly. 

Regardless of whether it’s snowy or not, it’s a good idea to pack a pair of microspikes on any winter hike to provide additional traction on slippery surfaces—Grand Junction’s canyons and slickrock tend to be much icier than expected! 

Snowy rock formation in Grand Junction, Colorado during the winter

After your time outside exploring Grand Junction, head to the nearby town of Palisade and visit one of over 25 wineries in the area. You can rent a bike downtown and pedal between the wineries—for example, Varaison Vineyards & Winery, Talon Wines at the Meadery, and Grande River Vineyards—to try some locally crafted wine.

  • Average daily high and low in January: 39° F/ 18° F
  • How to get to Grand Junction: Grand Junction is located along a beautiful stretch of I-70, near the Colorado-Utah border. You can either fly into Denver or Salt Lake City, either of which is a four hour drive from Grand Junction. 
  • Where to stay in Grand Junction: Hotel Maverick is a beautiful and new property, with comfortable rooms and everything you need for a cozy winter stay, including a hot tub, outdoor fire pit, and an onsite bar to relax at after your day’s adventures.

Recommended by Kate of Kate Outdoors

6. Boulder

While Colorado is packed with cities and towns that are well worth visiting, there’s something extra special about Boulder in the winter. Boulder is a quirky and bustling college town with some serious hippie vibes, nestled into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. 

Snowy fence with the Flatirons in the background in Boulder, Colorado

One of the most popular things to do in Boulder is to stroll along Pearl Street, the main pedestrian mall that’s packed with eclectic locals, funky shops, and plenty of restaurants and breweries to choose from. Consider making a small detour to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. This traditional Tajikistan tea house was actually built in Boulder’s sister city of Dushanbe in Tajikistan, disassembled, and then rebuilt in Boulder. There’s an afternoon tea that’s perfect for warming up from the winter chill and will give you plenty of time to marvel at the teahouse’s intricate wood carving and colorful tile work. 

After your time exploring downtown Boulder, it wouldn’t be a trip to Boulder without heading to the mountains! 

Head to Chautauqua Park, just five minutes from downtown Boulder, which has a variety of trails that lead to the Flatirons, which are striking sandstone formations at the foothills of the Rockies. For example, the short and moderate Chautauqua Trail will lead you right up to stellar views of the Flatirons—just make sure you pack some microspikes, because the trail can definitely get icy in the wintertime. 

Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado with snow in the winter

With a rental car, you can easily reach the Rockies for a day trip. Ski at Eldora, Boulder’s local mountain, that boasts far smaller crowds and more affordable lift tickets than most of the major Colorado resorts. 

Alternatively, venture into Rocky Mountain National Park for snowshoeing or winter hiking. Emerald Lake is accessible for hikers and snowshoers of most skill levels and offers jaw-dropping views of the rugged Rocky Mountains and the surrounding pine trees. This is one of the most popular trails in the park—but in the wintertime, there’s a good chance you’ll get to enjoy it by yourself! 

For an adventure closer to Boulder, check out the historic mining towns of Nederland or Gold Hill, each of which is tucked away in the mountains just 20 minutes from Pearl Street. 

  • Average daily high and low in January: 47° F/ 22° F
  • How to get to Boulder: Fly into the Denver International Airport, then take the bus or drive 45 minutes northwest to Boulder.
  • Where to stay in Boulder: The historic Hotel Boulderado is the ideal place to stay in downtown Boulder. Located just steps from Pearl Street, you’ll be in the perfect place to experience Boulder’s active nightlife and shopping, and some rooms even feature views of the Flatirons—plus, it’s got a really fun name!

Recommended by Amber of Amber Everywhere

7. Winter Park

Searching for the fastest way that you can get to the slopes from the Denver International Airport? Winter Park is just an hour and a half from the airport and, true to its name, is a winter wonderland! 

This mountain town is known for its spectacular skiing and snowboarding, with two resorts – Winter Park and Mary Jane. Winter Park is perfect for family-friendly adventures and the latter is known for its more advanced terrain. 

Snowboarder sitting on a slope at the Winter Park Resort in Colorado

If you’re not one for zipping down the mountain with skis, you can take advantage of the town’s snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and tubing opportunities. For example, the Winter Park Resort actually has its own tubing hill, with multiple lanes, banked curves, and even a covered conveyor belt to ride back to the top. Or, if you’re wanting to try your hand at snowshoeing, there’s a variety of trails to choose from, like the beginner-friendly Discovery Challenger Trail or the Jim Creek Trail, which climbs through a stunning pine tree forest. 

Snowy pine trees with mountains in the background in Colorado in winter

If you get tired of playing out in the snow, Winter Park hosts a Mountaintop Après, where you can hop on the gondola for free (every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after 4 PM) and enjoy drinks, small plates, and live music after a long day out in the cold. 

  • Average daily high and low in January: 31° F/ 16° F
  • Getting to Winter Park: One of the best things about Winter Park is the accessibility. From the Denver International Airport, you can get to Winter Park via car, bus, shuttle, or even train during the ski season. If you don’t feel like getting a rental car, there’s conveniently a town shuttle to get you to and from the ski resort.  
  • Where to stay in Winter Park: If your priority is to hit the slopes, stay at the Iron Horse Resort, which offers convenient ski-in ski-out access and cozy in-room fireplaces. Alternatively, Winter Park Chateau has closer proximity to downtown Winter Park, but still has mountain views—-and most importantly, a hot tub. 

Recommended by Rachel of Caribbean Uncovered

8. Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a fantastic winter destination in Colorado! Since it’s south of Denver, the weather is a teeny bit warmer, and you can enjoy plenty of the outdoor adventures that Colorado is known for, especially if you’re not much of a skier!

Garden of the Gods, with its iconic red rock formations, is a must-see in Colorado Springs and looks especially stunning with a dusting of snow. 

Rock formations at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs that are dusted with snow in winter

While Garden of the Gods offers a gentle stroll that will be suitable for almost all visitors, there’s plenty of other options for hiking in Colorado Springs. For example, head to nearby North Cheyenne Cañon Park, which has a 1,000-foot deep ravine cutting through the mountains, plus a dense pine tree forest and abundant wildlife. Just be ready to run into some ice and snow along the trails here! 

If the snow is particularly deep, rent some snowshoes at one of the gear shops in town, and hit Mueller State Park, which offers trails for beginners and experts alike.

Pine tree covered hills with snowy mountains in the background in Colorado Springs in winter

When you’re ready to warm up, head downtown to Cacao Chemistry Chocolatier for truly indulgent hot chocolate, which you can sip while you wander around the funky shops along Tejon Street. Be sure to check out Eclectic Co. for vintage goods and products by local artists.

  • Average daily high and low in January: 43° F/ 17° F
  • How to get to Colorado Springs: You can fly directly into the Colorado Springs municipal airport, or into Denver which is about an hour and a half drive away.
  • Where to stay in Colorado Springs: Kinship Landing makes the perfect homebase for all your adventures in Colorado Springs. Choose from modern suites to a bunk room for groups or even a camp deck that’s BYOT (bring your own tent).

Recommended by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

9. Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs, nestled in the mountains about two and a half hours west of Denver, is an incredible place to visit during the winter in Colorado, with stunning mountain views and a charming downtown. Even though it’s a small mountain town, there are plenty of things to do in Glenwood Springs.

Snow-dusted rock formation in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in witner

For example, Glenwood Springs is known for its hot springs and there are several places to go to warm up in the winter. You can actually find the largest hot springs pool in the world here at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort or you can head to the Iron Mountain Hot Springs for several pools overlooking the Colorado River. Alternatively, there are several undeveloped hot springs in the area, such as Penny Hot Springs along the Crystal River in the White River National Forest.

If you want to hit the ski slopes, Sunlight Mountain Resort is located about 15 minutes from town and offers 72 runs across 730 skiable acres. Alternatively, if you’re looking to ski some of the bigger resorts, Aspen and Vail are located less than an hour away.

Woman sitting in Penny Hot Springs near Carbondale, Colorado

After your outdoor adventures, stroll along the town’s Grand Avenue, which offers stellar mountain views and an impressive variety of eclectic shops, restaurants and bars.

  • Average daily high and low in January: 37° F/ 13° F
  • How to get to Glenwood Springs: There are a couple of smaller airports that are fairly close to Glenwood Springs, like Aspen, Grand Junction, or Steamboat Springs, but your best bet for affordable airfare will be Denver, which is less than a three hour drive east of the town.
  • Where to stay in Glenwood Springs: It would be silly to come to Glenwood Springs and not stay at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. The historic lodge has jaw-dropping mountain views and did we mention the LARGEST HOT SPRINGS IN THE WORLD?

Recommended by Ashley of Jetset Jansen

10. Telluride

Telluride is one of the best places to visit in Colorado for a classic winter wonderland destination. The town is nestled in a box canyon, offering you stunning views of snow-covered mountains in every direction.

This town is renowned for its world-class ski resort which boasts over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and a variety of slopes suitable for all skill levels, all against the backdrop of the stunning San Juan mountains. 

Woman skiing from a tunnel in Telluride, Colorado in the winter

Even if you’re not a skier, there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy the mountain vistas. For example, take the free(!!) gondola to the nearby town of Mountain Village, the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the entire country! Alternatively, for something more adventurous, consider trying your hand at ice climbing up one of the enormous ice flows, like this half-day tour.

After a day in the mountains, you can relax in nearby hot springs. For example, the Ouray Hot Springs, just a short drive away, allow you to soak in steamy hot springs while taking in the views of the surrounding snowy mountain peaks. 

Winding road through the snowy mountains in Telluride, Colorado in winter

In the evenings, explore the charming downtown of Telluride, which has a variety of Old West-style buildings. If you want to lean into the town’s old time-y vibes, stop at the Historic Bar, which dates all the way back to 1895.

  • Average daily high and low in January: 36° F/ 4° F
  • How to get to Telluride: This is a remote town, and getting here requires time and effort. You can get here by taking a flight from Telluride International Airport or the teeny Montrose Regional Airport. Alternatively, the closest major airport is the Albuquerque International Sunport, about five and a half hours south.
  • Where to stay in Telluride: The New Sheridan Hotel is a historic stay in downtown Telluride that offers great views of the city and proximity to some of the best things in town (plus is the home of the Historic Bar!).

Recommended by Stacy of Explore Baja California

11. Keystone

If you are looking for fun winter activities, then look no further than Keystone, which is conveniently located less than two hours from Denver.

The town is best known for Keystone Ski Resort. While this may not be as prestigious as some of the other resorts in Colorado, like Aspen or Vail, it still offers more than three peaks, five bowls, and 139 trails to explore across over 3,000 acres. It also offers the famously long Schoolmarm trail, which clocks in at a whopping 3.5 miles long!

Snow-capped mountains in Keystone, Colorado in winter

Another benefit of skiing at Keystone is that it’s one of the best ski resorts in Colorado for night skiing. What could be better than gliding down the mountain while watching the sunset over Lake Dillon? 

If you’re not a skier, Keystone has plenty of other things to do. Like, for example, visiting the world’s largest mountain top snow fort at Dercum Mountain, complete with tunnels, lookouts, and even slides. It’s the perfect place to stop on your way to enjoy the resort’s multi-lane snow tubing hill, complete with an automatic lift to the top.

Snow-covered pine trees surrounding a stream in Keystone, Colorado in winter

There’s also other winter activities that you can enjoy, like ice skating on Keystone Lake, which is the largest Zamboni-maintained ice rink in North America!

  • Average daily high and low in January: 27° F/ 3° F
  • How to Get to Keystone: The closest major airport is Denver International Airport, which is an hour and 50 minutes northeast of Keystone.
  • Where to Stay at Keystone: The Keystone Lodge and Spa is the best place to relax at the end of the day, with a cozy hot tub, world-class spa, and epic views of the surrounding Rockies.

Recommended by Alex of The Bucketlist Mermaid

There’s so much to do during winter in Colorado, but hopefully, this helps you narrow it down a bit! Do you have any questions about visiting the destinations above? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you for reading our post! Check out our latest stories here and follow us on Instagram (@UprootedTraveler), YouTube, or on Facebook to see what we’re up to next!

Preview of instagram card encouraging readers to follow Uprooted Traveler on Instagram

Leave a Comment

Want to work with us?

Ask us any questions