With intimidating views of the Southern Rocky Mountains Front Range, Denver is a gateway to exceptional, epic outdoor adventures. And this doesn’t change when temperatures dip in winter! Denver transforms into the ultimate platform for winter escapades to either the nearby snow-capped mountains or inner-city attractions and activities. The things to do in Denver in winter are endless, and we’re here to tell you all about what to do, special offers to accommodate your activities, and what to wear when cold air replaces warm winds.
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Best Outdoor Winter Activities in and around Denver
So you find yourself in Denver, Colorado, for a vacation, a business trip, Christmas, now what? First things first: take a look at the following things to do around Denver in winter and start getting excited for some incredible outdoor adventures in and around this fun, lively city.
Winter Hiking around Denver
Denver is a playground for hikers seeking trails open all year! The following hikes offer exceptional vistas while carrying you away from the bustle of the city. You’ll definitely want to try out one (or all) of the following winter-friendly hikes:
Centennial Cone Trail: Embark on a casual, fun hike while admiring views of Clear Creek Canyon. Spend hours exploring some of the network of trails (24.0km worth) crisscrossing throughout this lovely getaway.
Lair o’ the Bear Park: This 11.6km hike is slightly more difficult than the Centennial Cone Trail, but it passes by the Dunafon Castle and winds to stunning views painting Panorama Point.
Red Rocks Park Hike: The red sandstone rocks are supernatural wonders in the summer, but just imagine how magical it looks when snow dusts these soaring formations in the winter! This 2.4km trail is an excellent, easy, family-friendly trail.
Mount Falcon Park Trail: Looking to spend hours away from city noise? Lace-up your boots and head to the 15.0km Mount Falcon Park Trail. Prepare to encounter lovely views and castle ruins!
Bear Creek Lake Park Hike: This 6.8km walk is another excellent family adventure option!
Skiing and snowboarding around Denver
You’ll have to travel a little to get to incredible skiing and snowboarding locations, but trust us, the drive is so worth it. Here some of the closest ski resorts to Denver:
Winter Park Resort: This charming ski resort is one of America’s favorites! It takes just 1.5 hours to reach from Denver, boasts of 69 slopes which cater to all levels of skiers and boarders, and offers mogul runs.
Keystone Resort: Like Winter Park Resort, Keystone Resort is just under 1.5 hours from Denver and offers an excess of runs for all levels (131)!
Arapahoe Basin: If you’re an advanced skier on a budget, head to Arapahoe Basin, where 147 trails await. It takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to this ski area from Denver.
Skating is one of the most fun things to do with kids in Denver! And you’ll find a range of outdoor rinks littered across the city!
You don’t have to pay anything to skate on the Downtown Denver Rink, while other outdoor skating will cost you an admission fee of $10 or under. These rinks include The Rink at Belmar, The Cube, and The Pond at Southlands.
Don’t have skis, but want to elevate your snowy adventure level from a casual winter hike to an epic exploration? Grab your snowshoes and head to Rocky Mountain National Park. The following trails are just under a 2-hour drive from Denver!
The 13.4km Sky Pond Snowshoe Trail takes you on an unreal snowy adventure. You can even backcountry camp here, elevating your snowshoe from crazy cool to incredibly phenomenal. You’ll need to get a permit from the RMNP Visitors Center if you plan to winter camp.
Meanwhile, the 5.0km Emerald Lake Snowshoe Trail is an intermediate track that winds to a glacier lake flanked by snow-capped peaks.
But there are some even closer snowshoe trails! The 9.7km Lost Lake Snowshoe Trail in Indian Peaks Wilderness only takes around 40 minutes to get to from Denver.
Cross-country skiing around Denver
Cross country skiing is one of the best Denver winter activities, and for good reason. You get a lot of exercise when gliding through lanes of groomed snow surrounded by white-frosted trees.
For a quiet immersion in nature’s snowy bliss, head to Eldora Nordic Center! This ski resort is just over an hour from Denver and offers you “40.0km of freedom.”
You can also take your skis to Lost Lake Snowshoe Trail and Emerald Lake Trail, mentioned in the snowshoeing section.
Tubing is one of the most fun things to do in Denver in winter—this thrilling activity gets you outside, and it’s an excellent family-friendly option. Colorado Adventure Park won’t disappoint when it comes to a top-notch tubing experience. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive here and costs $25 to rent a single tube and $40 for a double.
You can also split up your day with skiing and tubing at Winter Park Resort!
Ice fishing is a great outdoor activity for when you aren’t in the mood to move around a lot but want some fresh air. Just pack some brews, hot chocolate, snacks, get your fishing permit, and off you go to icy lakes.
Just 45 minutes away sits Chatfield Reservoir, and after two hours of driving, you’ll come across Lake Granby, Twin Lakes Reservoir, and Eleven Mile Reservoir.
Go to a Colorado Avalanche game
Going to a Colorado Avalanche game may not fall on the list of snowy outdoor activities in Denver. Still, it’s the perfect way to experience the culture of winter without going outside. Note that the Avalanche are considered Stanley Cup contenders, resulting in fun games to watch.
*You may not be able to watch games in person in 2020-21 due to COVID-19*
Ditch your summer, spring, fall mountain bike tires for big, fat snow-ready tires. Winter Park Resort can rent out these new-school toys to you. Snow Mountain Ranch and Devil’s Thumb Ranch at Winter Park Resort are where you want to go for the ultimate fat biking experience.
Another option is to go to the Mud Lake Mountain Bike trail in Nederland, Staunton State Park! This route is a slightly shorter drive than the one to Winter Park Resort from Denver.
One of the most fantastic Denver winter attractions is the Ice Castles in Dillon Town Park. These soaring, carefully sculpted castles will have you feeling like you’re a side character in Frozen. It may take just over an hour to reach the palaces, but your kids will be talking about meandering through these castles for the next few weeks (and let’s face it, you will too).
Best Winter Deals In And Around Denver
Get the best out of your vacation by snagging one or more of the best winter deals in and around Denver. Take a look at the following special offers and choose one that suits your holiday style:
Best Accommodation Deals around Denver
Save money by taking advantage of the best accommodation deals around Denver!
Hyatt Place Denver Downtown: Book by Dec. 6, 2020, for stays until Apr. 4, 2021, and save 20%.
The Art Hotel: Stay at this quirky, innovative, swanky hotel for two nights and get 10% off, book for three nights and get a 15% discount, enjoy five nights here and get 20% off, or spend seven nights here or more and lose 25% off your final bill.
Warwick Denver: This hotel offers an array of awesome, fun deals! Our favorite special offer is the one that has you booking for two nights, and receiving the third one is free.
Best Ski Deals around Denver
Winter Park Resort: Get the midweek pass, which costs $539 per adult (23 and above) and gives you unlimited skiing from Monday to Friday (blackout dates apply for certain holidays). With this pass, eight friends and family will receive 25% off the window rate, and you get 10% off select food and beverages (not alcohol) and full-price retail. Talk about a phenomenal deal! You need to get this pass by Dec. 10!
Keystone Resort: Starting Dec. 8, your kids (12 and under) will get to ski free for a day if you book for two nights here! If you book more nights, your kids will get to ski free for more days.
Winter Weather in Denver
Winter weather in Denver is all over the place! It snows for an average of 33 days per year, and temperatures can range from a frigid 0°F (-17.8°C) to 46°F (7.8°C). Don’t expect the thermometer to drop to 0°F very often, though! The snow melts fast in Denver, allowing golf courses to stay open year-round.
What to Wear during Winter in Denver
It’s always good to pack layers for cold destinations, but when it comes to what to wear during winter in Denver, you’ll need to pack cozy clothes! Think a warm jacket, comfortable boots, scarf, jeans, sweater, gloves, and a hat.
If you’re going out on a snowshoeing, skiing, cross country skiing adventure, you’ll want to put a little more thought into your clothes! One outfit could look like a long-sleeved shirt with a fleece, under a waterproof jacket or winter jacket (depending on the weather), along with long jeans and waterproof pants or snow pants (weather dependant). For more detailed advice on what to wear during a snowy escapade, check out these great tips on keeping dry in winter.
Fun Winter Facts about Denver
Learn the following fun winter facts about Denver and share them with your friends and family:
- Two hundred peaks may surround Denver, but this city isn’t actually located in the mountains.
- Some claim that Denver boasts of 300 days of sunshine a year! The lucky locals experience more annual hours of sun than Miami Beach. However, others claim this isn’t exactly true, but Denver still gets a lot of sunshine.
- Denver’s temperature can change rapidly! On Jan. 25, in 1872, the weather went from 42°F to -20°F in just one day.
- In January 1875, Denver recorded its coldest temperature to date: -29°F
Denver is a gateway city for winter adventurers, thanks to its proximity to the Rockies and ski resorts!