Outdoors

Ten Cool Winter Activities Off the Slopes

A very cool activity.
A very cool activity. Ouray Ice Park
Colorado’s reputation as the "Switzerland of America” is well deserved, but if cutting turns on a ski slope isn't what you're about (or you're still waiting for snow), there are plenty of cool things to do during the winter months.

Here are ten places to start:

Bridgestone Winter Driving School
winterdrive.com
Want to live your inner James Bond fantasies, all while taking in Mount Werner and Storm Peak? Sign up for snow- and ice-driving lessons from professional racers in specialty vehicles at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat. In addition to enjoying a guaranteed great time, you'll get the skills you need to navigate a windswept Rabbit Ears Pass on your way home. Find out more at 970-879-6104.
click to enlarge All aboard for a scenic adventure - GEORGETOWN LOOP RAILROAD
All aboard for a scenic adventure
Georgetown Loop Railroad
Georgetown Loop Railroad
georgetownlooprr.com
The Georgetown Loop is perhaps one of the most cinematic ways to relive Colorado’s rich mining history, and to see Clear Creek County’s spring and summer splendor. But its Holiday Train through “Santa’s Lighted Forest” has a magic of its own, especially when you're inside enclosed, heated coaches that will help you forget that you and your little ones caught the train at something called Devil’s Gate Depot in Georgetown. Departures run evenings in November and December; get details at 303-569-2030.

Skijoring at Frisco Nordic Center
townoffrisco.com
If what you like least about downhill skiing is how hard it is to take your dog along, try skijoring: skiing while pulled by your dog — or your horse, if you have one. You can learn how through a clinic at the Frisco Nordic Center, where you can also learn the basics of cross-country skiing. But please, leave the horse at home. Get more information at 970-668-2570.

The Denver Curling Club
denvercurlingclub.com
Sure, you can go curling year-round at the Denver Curling Club’s facility off Interstate 70 in Golden, but something about it just seems more fitting for winter. While league competition is only open to members, you can sign up for an instructional mini-league for new curlers to learn how to work the brooms and stone in order to qualify. Reach the Denver Curling Center at 303-321-1107.


Historic Fraser Tubing Hill
frasertubinghill.com
What if you could get most of the fun of skiing without all the hassle of standing? Well, you can: The Historic Fraser Tubing Hill, a family-owned business since 1971, is the perfect family outing, open to tubers over the age of three. Rates are affordable, and the rush down the hill is priceless. Get all the details at 970-726-5954.

Pine Creek Cookhouse
pinecreekcookhouse.com
Nothing about Aspen screams “roughin' it,” but a visit to the Pine Creek Cookhouse comes close. Sign up for a day of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing up to this spot for a decadent meal. And if even this kind of roughin’ it isn’t your thing, lunch and dinner service are accessible by an idyllic, horse-drawn-sleigh ride. Call 970-925-1044 for reservations.
click to enlarge A very cool activity. - OURAY ICE PARK
A very cool activity.
Ouray Ice Park
Ouray Ice Park
ourayicepark.com
Downhill skiing can’t hold a candle to the singular thrill of clambering up the more than three miles of cumulative vertical climbing terrain along the iced-down walls of the Uncompahgre Gorge. But if that sounds a little too intense, the canyon has a tranquil, otherworldly feel that’s worth taking in even from the ground. And a visit to scenic Ouray is always worth the trip. The free park opens in mid-December; call 970- 325-4288 for updates.

Colorado Jeep Tours
coloradojeeptours.com
While snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through a snowy landscape can be spectacular, driving can be a blast, too — especially when you're seeing the Royal Gorge or Red Canyon Park from inside a capable 4x4 as the heater blazes away. Jeep trips can also be combined with a trip aboard the Royal Gorge Railroad so you can enjoy even more of Colorado’s winter splendor without having to battle the elements. Get more information at 719-275-6339.

Our Gang Ice Racing
ourgangiceracing.com
If you’ve got a 4WD or AWD vehicle, earn your official Colorado stripes by taking it out on a frozen Georgetown Lake during the five-weekend racing season in January and February. If that sounds intimidating, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is, not to mention how friendly and welcoming the other entrants are. Spectators are welcome, too, but bundle up: This is a frozen lake in the dead of winter we’re talking about. Find out more about the Our Gang 4 Wheelers club online.
click to enlarge Take a twirl on the downtown ice rink. - DOWNTOWN DENVER PARTNERSHIP
Take a twirl on the downtown ice rink.
Downtown Denver Partnership
Downtown Denver Rink
winterindenver.com/rink
Looking for a romantic winter activity that won't break the bank or take you too far from home? You’re in luck: The Downtown Denver Rink will be back with free skating and cheap rentals. The season runs through February 20, and if you want to brush up on your skating skills before you bring a date along, free lessons are offered every Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. Contact the Downtown Denver Partnership at 303-534-6161 for details.

Looking for more things to do this winter? Check westword.com/arts.
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Skyler McKinley is a fourth-generation Coloradan and the owner of the Oak Creek Tavern, a neighborhood bar in the rural heart of the Yampa Valley. A former political staffer and the state of Colorado’s founding deputy pot czar, he now oversees AAA’s regional public affairs division. He lives and drinks in Denver but tends bar in Oak Creek.
Contact: Skyler McKinley