Not all bad weather is frightful. Any time you have a nice blanket of snow, it's a perfect opportunity to grab a wooden toboggan, plastic sled, large shipping box or anything thing else with a slick bottom and go sledding. And there are some decent slopes around the metro area (and beyond) perfect for little ones to get a rush from the ride. So try one of these mostly free and fun hills, and take your family and friends sledding after the next big winter storm.
Carter Park in Breckinridge
300 South High Street, Breckinridge
You don't have to travel far to get good sledding, but sometimes it's nice to get out of the city for an adventure. That's where this free park comes in. It has a great hill for sledding that's surrounded by fresh air and nature. Plus, you can bring your canine children for a romp in the nearby dog park. Expect an all-ages crowd on sunny, snow-blanketed days, running up the hill and gliding down it with big grins plastered to their faces.
Chautauqua Meadow in Boulder
Baseline Road and 9th Street, Boulder
The first step to finding this somewhat secluded spot is to head to Chautauqua Park off Baseline Road in Boulder. From there you need to seek out the meadow, which can be found on the aptly named Meadow Trail. This sledding spot is definitely for older kids, as it's steeper, has more trees and proves narrower than most popular, easier-to-get-to hills. Plus, you have to hike to the spot. Despite the risks, this hill has captivated locals' hearts since at least the early 1950s, when there was a rope tow on it to make ascending the slope easier.
Heritage Dells Park in Golden
Closest cross streets are Crawford Circle and Kimball Avenue
When it's too cold for tubing in the river, bring your inflatable onto the smooth slope of this foothills park. There's enough of a curve that sledders can gain speed while heading down. Just make sure the sidewalks haven't been shoveled yet, or your ride will be stopped short. Best to hit this spot right after a fresh fall. It's found in the middle of of the Kinney Run Trail, though the closest place to park is near Heritage Road and Fourth Avenue in a small lot at the dead end.
Hidden Valley in Estes Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
When a place has been dubbed the "snow play area," you know you have come to the right spot to do some sledding. Located in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, this place used to host skiers. But the skiing ended in the 1990s, and now what was the bunny hill is used for toboggans, while the flatter space surrounding the slope proves perfect for building a snowman, having a snowball fight, or just taking a million selfies and photos with your kids. Enjoy this spot from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; just make sure to bring your own equipment or rent it in town before you get to Hidden Valley. Best part: This excursion comes with heated bathrooms nearby. Find this snowy slope by getting into the park at the Beaver Meadows entrance (there's a $25 per vehicle fee) and then drive along Trail Ridge Road to the Hidden Valley parking lot.
Between 23rd, 22nd, Clay and Eliot Streets
Though the public space off of 23rd Street in the Jefferson Park neighborhood looks small, the three-sided hill proves mighty. On one end you have a playground, which peaks on top of the park overlooking the gully below. It's a good, long hill, perfect for taking a sled to when the time is right. And since the slope rolls gently, it's not too steep for first-time toboggan riders. The shorter sides make this winter destination good for all ages. Plus, since the hills go into a basin, you don't have to worry about anyone getting out of control and sledding into the street.
200 Fairfax Street
In the Hilltop neighborhood on the south side of Third Avenue between Fairfax and Glencoe Streets, you'll find a darling park that includes an amphitheater perfect for movie nights in the summer and sledding in the winter. It's not a steep hill, so young kids and first-timers don't have anything to fear. Bring your own device to play on, and if the sun is out, you can always visit the playground, too.
Ruby Hill Park
1200 West Florida Avenue
You don't have to travel far to sled. This epic park, located near downtown Denver at Platte River Drive and Jewell Avenue, has both a rail yard for snowboarders to practice on and a rolling hill for tobogganing. One thing that makes this venue stand out is that it's managed in collaboration with Winter Park Resort, so there are lights on until about 9 p.m. and extra care put into the slopes.
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Scott Carpenter Park in Boulder
1505 30th Street, Boulder
This large space is smack in the middle of Boulder — at the intersection of Arapahoe and 30th Streets — and draws snow-loving children to it as if it was a candy shop. This is in part because the sledding proves so good, yet you don't have to tire yourself walking up a steep hill. You also don't have to worry about your little one going too fast. While it's certainly a slope, it won't have anyone shooting by at warp speed. Bring kids of all ages and enjoy being outside the next time it snows.
Ken Caryl Sledding Hill Park in Littleton
Northwest corner of South Kipling Parkway and West Ken Caryl Avenue
Littleton might look a bit flat, but there is sledding to do if you know where to go. Say, for example, a large, undeveloped park run by Jefferson County Open Space that includes a north-facing slope. It's not an immense hill, but it's enough for those thrill-seekers who want to go tobogganing. Parents can park themselves up top at one of the benches, ride along with their little ones, or wait at the bottom of the hill for the mini adventurer to slide down the snowy bank, hopefully still on their sled.
8501 East Belleview Avenue
Located near the Denver Tech Center, this small but well designed park has a bevy of gentle rolling hills. There are a lot of trees for sledders to contend with, but in the center of the space is a well-sized slope you can take your little ones on the next time a winter storm paints Denver white. Also, because the park sinks down to make a little gully, you can take your sled down the center without fear of cars or pedestrians getting in the way.
What are your favorite sledding spots? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.