For many, outdoor activities stop once the snow arrives, but winter gives us all sorts of reasons to stay outside. Snowshoeing is one of the easiest of these winter activities to master, requires no expensive lessons or tickets, and can be enjoyed by kids as young as four or five, as well as parents and grandparents. Rent snowshoes and poles, or buy your own, hit the trail, and maybe even throw a few snowballs along the way.
Colorado is famous for its deep and fluffy snow, and with great conditions December through March, it’s the perfect place to explore the snowy trails. Read on for the 10 best places to go snowshoeing in the Centennial State.
Best Places to Snowshoe in Colorado
1. Estes Park Snowshoeing
Estes Park, in northern Colorado, is a beautiful town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. The town is home to the Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as great trails for snowshoeing in the winter. For a beginner hike, try the Bear Lake area, and if you’ve hiked in the area before, keep in mind that easy summer hikes turn into slightly more difficult snow shoeing trails. If you are more experienced or want to try something out of the ordinary, take a ranger guided full moon walk, on the nights of the winter full moons. For even more trail suggestions, check out the Rock Mountain National Park winter trails list. For snowshoe rentals and other guided tours, head to the Estes Park Mountain Shop.
After a long day on the trails, browse downtown and visit galleries, boutiques, and local restaurants. The town is quaint, full of small-town charm, and has plenty to offer away from its world class outdoor adventures.
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2. Vail Snowshoeing
Vail, a beautiful alpine village in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is most famous for its world class skiing, but this resort town is full of winter activities both on and off the slopes. For great snowshoeing trails, head to the Vail Nordic Center, just east of Vail Village. The area is the perfect setting for a peaceful hike through the aspens and along the edge of nearby mountains. The Nordic Center grooms 17km of trails for an easy and peaceful walk, or explore un-groomed trails for a tough hike. The Beaver Creek Nordic Center is a lesser known area in Vail, so head here for uncrowded and serene trails.
For even more outdoor adventures, visit Adventure Ridge. The area offers spectacular views of the Gore Mountain Ranges, along with activities like ice skating, tubing, snow biking, and a bungee trampoline.
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3. Aspen Snowshoeing
Even if you’re not looking to take advantage of Aspen’s top-notch slopes and killer pow days, this Colorado resort town is full of snowshoeing trails for every experience level. Head to Aspen Snowmass for miles of marked trails, easy rentals, and guided tours through the area’s wide array of terrain. For beginner trails, try the Rio Grande Trail or the North Star Nature Preserve Loop. Rio runs along the old Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, and North Star offers views of Colorado’s natural ecology. For a challenge, try Owl Creek, a scenic trail between the Aspen and Snowmass villages.
If you’re not comfortable venturing out on your own, book a tour with ACES. This naturalist group offers snowshoe tours at Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, and at Ashcroft. Trips are guided by regional experts eager to share their knowledge of the surrounding nature.
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4. Denver Snowshoeing
Denver is the perfect hub for those seeking Rocky Mountain adventures. It’s also home to professional sports teams, museums, and unique neighborhoods that offer plenty to do and see, no snow gear required. For those looking to venture into the wilderness, try Chinns Lake. This trailhead is conveniently close to Denver, but it usually remains uncrowded, even at peak season. The Continental Divide Trail will cross your path about half way up. The Jones Pass Road trail is a more popular trail option, and while it may be slightly more crowded, the trail is often packed out, making an easier ascent. The trail is blessed with early season powder, so you can get on the trail earlier than most areas.
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5. Breckenridge Snowshoeing
Breckenridge was once a mountain mining town, but has since become a snow sports destination. The area is full of pristine hiking trails and glorious views of the surrounding nature. For the best way to experience all of the beauty that Breckenridge has to offer, strap on some snowshoes and explore. The Breckenridge Nordic Center offers 18 km of trails that meander through old-growth spruce forests and across Beaver Meadows, with lessons, rentals, and tours on Saturday and Sundays.
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6. Boulder Snowshoeing
This town, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, is a wonderland for anyone who loves the outdoors. Boulder is home to 30,000 acres of untouched land, and 200 miles of trails. When you stay in Boulder, beautiful snowshoeing trails are just out the back door. Take the Bald Mountain trail, a short and easy hike to the top of Bald Mountain, for amazing views of the Great Plains and the Continental Divide. For more trail options, visit the Betasso Preserve. The area offers diverse terrain and trails to fit any ability or fitness level. Bikes are banned on Wednesdays and Sundays, so these are the best days to visit for a peaceful tromp through the forest.
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7. Colorado Springs Snowshoeing
Colorado Springs sits at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, and runs against the glacier-carved area of Pikes Peak. The Pike National Forest is full of scenic hiking trails for winter snowshoeing treks. The Crags is the snowiest spot on Pikes Peak, and offers an 8 mile trail through a peaceful valley where large rock formations rise up on either side. The Rampart Reservoir trail is a great trail for beginning snowshoers; with little elevation gain, the trail can be an easy there-and-back trail, or more ambitions hikers can complete the 13 mile loop around the reservoir. Mueller State Park is another great spot for snowshoers, especially in the north part of the park.
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8. Ouray Snowshoeing
Ouray is set between some of the most rugged peaks of the Rockies and is still full of the town’s original Victorian charm. As you might expect, the surrounding area is full of perfect summer hikes that turn to beautiful snowshoeing trails in the wintertime. Visit Ironstone park for miles of groomed and un-groomed trails, with beginner and intermediate terrain. Try the two mile Townsite loop to explore the ghost town of Ironton. If you’d prefer to venture off on your own, spend your time around the Ouray Amphitheater. The area is best suited for intermediate to expert snowshoers. Head up at the Portland Trailhead, and the steep ascent will give you incredible views of the Amphitheater below.
After a long day on the trail, visit the town’s famous hot springs, or give your legs a break and tour the hundreds of miles of historic Jeep roads.
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9. Salida Snowshoeing
Surrounded by more than a dozen 14ers, Salida is the perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts who don’t want the resort town prices. Aside from the lure of the outdoors, Salida offers beautiful tree lined streets, local shopping, a full array of dining options, and fun art galleries (it was even voted one of America’s best small art towns).
For some quality time on the trails, spend the day exploring Old Monarch Pass. The area offers a wide variety of terrain to accommodate any experience level. The trails are un-groomed, but traffic through the area means that the trail are usually well packed for an easier hike. For another trail across the Continental Divide, try the trails around the Chalk Creek Valley. Romney trail passes by the ruins of several old mines and offers views of the Swatch Mountain Range.
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10. Crested Butte Snowshoeing
Crested Butte, like most places in Colorado, is a snow lovers paradise, and the town itself offer activities that range from ice skating and dog sled tours, to museums and a vibrant theater scene. The Crested Butte Nordic Center is your one stop shop for everything you need for a day of snowshoeing on the area’s immaculately groomed trails. For the full Crested Butte Nordic experience, check out the Sunday brunch or the moonlight dinners at the Magic Meadow Yurt. Guests enjoy the cozy atmosphere of the Magic Meadows Yurt which is heated by a wood stove and lit with solar power. The meal is all inclusive with guides, live music, and libations. For a hike close to town, hit the Brush Creek trail, just a few miles outside of Crested Butte. The trail is pretty straightforward, passes through a few groves of aspen trees, and offers great views from the trail along the way.
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This article was written by Alexis Hartmann
Image by Alec Moore