Maybe you’ve just never got into skiing, despite many lessons and attempts to make yourself enjoy it. Maybe you’re nursing a lingering injury back to health. Or maybe you just want to take this year off — too much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
Whatever your reason for not skiing this year, you can still enjoy plenty of time outdoors in nature. In Boulder County and along the Front Range, we’re blessed with some seriously awesome weather — snow in the foothills, sunshine most days and crisp dry air — which makes cold-weather outdoor recreation possible, pretty much all winter long. No matter what activity you choose, be sure to follow all local COVID-19 rules and precautions, wear your mask, travel with members of your household, wash your hands and stay at least six feet apart from others (which should be easy with any of these activities listed below!).
If you’re looking for some new winter hobbies, check out this list below for inspiration — and be sure to let us know your go-to winter activities that aren’t on our list.
If you haven’t already jumped on the uphilling bandwagon, now’s your chance. As the name suggests, uphilling is a form of skiing that involves, well, skiing uphill. Also known as alpine touring, this activity requires special skis and add-ons called skins that help prevent you from sliding backward on the snow. If you’ve ever heard the expression “earn your turns,” this is how to do it. Once you reach your preferred summit or high-elevation spot, you can glide back down — no lifts required. You can try uphilling at Eldora with a pass, as well as at many Colorado ski resorts, including Snowmass, Loveland and Copper, to name a few.
Snowshoeing is one of the easiest, most accessible ways to get outside and enjoy Colorado’s wilderness in the winter. With some pretty affordable gear, you can simply start walking on snow, just like you would hike during the summer months. Some good local snowshoe areas include Betasso Preserve and Heil Valley Ranch.
You might only think of birding as a warm-weather sport, but it’s actually something you can do outdoors all year round. Even better, because there’s less foliage on the trees, you actually have a better view of birds, too. Plus, some birds are just more common here during the winter months, so you might be able to check some new-to-you birds off your list. Check out Walden Ponds and Carolyn Holmberg Preserve at Rock Creek Farm for birding this winter.
With the right gear, cross-country (or Nordic) skiing is a meditative, peaceful way to enjoy the colder months and our stunning winter landscape here. Plus, it’s also a great workout that will get your heart racing. You can cross-country ski across 40 kilometers Eldora with a pass, or check out some Boulder County spots like Caribou Ranch and parts of Walker Ranch, just to name a few.
Yep, plain ol’ hiking. It’s still fun and it still feels good in the winter (maybe even more so, when we are all desperate for a little sunshine and fresh air). Simply strap on some traction cleats and start hiking — most of the Boulder-area trails are open in the winter months, but we’ve noted a few of our favorites.
OK, so you probably aren’t going to take up dogsledding as a regular hobby, but it’s definitely worth trying once or twice. You can try dogsledding at places like Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby and Krabloonik Dogsledding in Snowmass, just to name a few.
Boulder is already world-renowned for its rock climbing, so why not add another variation — ice climbing — to your outdoor recreation resume? But since ice climbing can definitely be a little intimidating, consider taking a lesson and practicing your skills first, indoors, at The Ice Coop, a special Boulder climbing gym that will help you learn the ins and outs of ice climbing … minus the ice.