Few places in the U.S. match Denver’s combination of chic city living, proximity to some of the best national parks in the country, and a constant stream of popular entertainment. There are plenty of events and activities in every season, but a Denver winter getaway provides visitors with an unparalleled experience. With so many things to do in Denver’s winter wonderland, it can be a tough task choosing your adventure. Our free Vacation Guide helps you make those tough decisions! It has tons of local tips and ideas that will make planning your trip easy!
The Top Denver Winter Day Trips
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park sits less than two hours away from Denver and is the quintessential national park. The soft blanket of snow covering the skyscraping mountain range only enhances the unbelievable views. You can snowshoe most of the Rocky Mountain trails, ski and snowboard, and even ice fish. Ranger-led programs allow visitors to get an in-depth look at winter wildlife. Take a break from hiking and soak in the views to appreciate the vast, untamed wilderness in front of you.
Although Estes Park serves as the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, fans of thriller movies will appreciate a stop here just as much as an outdoor fanatic. The Stanley Hotel, Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining, stands outside of town as a haunting reminder of his classic work. Take a walk in the footsteps of King as he wrote the novel in room 217. You may even encounter haunts of your own in this majestically ominous building.
Boulder is an incredible destination less than a 45-minute drive from Denver. You’ll find tons of outdoor and indoor activities all over this hip college town. Sledding, snowshoeing, and skiing trails surround the town, waiting for you to explore them. After you have your share of cold weather activities, hit one of the many restaurants or live music bars lining the streets of Boulder’s pedestrian-friendly downtown. Its distinct architectural style and easy accessibility make the University of Colorado Boulder a great place for a peaceful and walk that is well worth your time.
While there are a couple of things to see and do around Cañon City, like the Museum of Colorado Prisons, the big attraction here is Royal Gorge. For an exceptional experience, take a ride on the Royal Gorge Train. The tracks span the base of the 1,000-foot-tall canyon, carrying passengers on a 24-mile journey through the rocky walls and above the Arkansas River. Kids also love the Santa Express, which runs through December. If you want a more romantic date night activity, book a dinner for two in a glass-domed train car.
Once listed as the “Best Place to Live” by Money magazine, this beautiful town sits only one hour north of Denver. Here, college kids and families coexist in a relatively youthful and lively setting. Fort Collins boasts a plethora of breweries and Colorado State University. New Belgium Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, and Equinox Brewing are just a few of the big-name breweries where you can escape the cold and sample beer fresh from its source.
The Most Exciting Denver Winter Events
Winter Brew Fest
Sure, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t stop the Mile High City from enjoying a tasty craft brew. The Denver Winter Brew Fest features over 100 breweries from around the country accompanied by live music. Sample popular beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company or lesser-known gems like Great Divide Brewery.
Icelantic Winter on the Rocks
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is one of the most iconic music venues in the country, and it continues to rock visitors in the winter. Icelantic Winter on the Rocks showcases some of the top artists in the world in a unique setting. Watch the stars on the stage and in the sky for a concert that you will never forget.
You don’t have to be a fan of Norse Mythology to enjoy this Viking-themed festival in Breckenridge. Grab a horned Viking hat and join the many skiers and snowboarders taking time off of the slopes to enjoy a weekend full of winter partying. The Ullr Fest has just about every kind of crazy event you can imagine. Watch people retire their Christmas trees at the Ullr bonfire, jump into freezing water at the Ullr Ice Plunge, or try to break the world’s longest shot ski record (seeing how many people can line up and take a shot off of a ski). This unique festival is geared more toward adults.
Colorado Avalanche Hockey Game
If you are a sports fan, catch a Colorado Avalanche game at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver. Colorado’s NHL team enjoys success every season and tickets are easy to get online.
International Ice Sculpting Championship
Unique art buffs, rejoice! There are few places you will find a world-class ice sculpting event, but the best of the best meet in Breckenridge every year in January to decide the world champion. The International Snow Championship gives guests the opportunity to view the best snow sculptures in the world.
The Best Things to Do in Denver in Winter
Snowboarding and Skiing
Colorado is renowned for its skiing and snowboarding in the winter. With events like the Winter X Games and destinations like Aspen and Breckenridge, Colorado’s slopes attract some of the world’s best winter sports athletes. There are plenty of fantastic places to ski and snowboard within an hour of Denver. Whether you are figuring out the bunny slopes or carving up the black diamond courses, there is a trail for everyone’s ability level. If you are in need of gear, head over to one of Denver’s best ski shops for a great selection of clothing, boards, and much more!
Denver Ski Train
So, you want to go skiing but driving to and from the slopes doesn’t sound like fun to you. Consider taking the Denver Ski Train! The train runs from January to March, connecting visitors from Union Station in Downtown Denver to Winter Park. This two-hour journey gives you an up-close look at the Rocky Mountains as you weave through craggy-rock passages and 29 tunnels. The train drops you off just steps from the ski lifts at Winter Park Ski Resort where you can suit up to hit the powdery white slopes. After a full day of winter activities, hop back on the train at 4:30 p.m. for complete and easy transportation back to Denver.
Denver has over 4,000 acres of green space for visitors to enjoy. As the snow gently falls, a walk through Sloan’s Lake Park is a great way to relax and take in the scenery of the Mile High City. One of our favorite parks, City Park, sits less than a mile from Castle Marne and is home to the Denver Zoo, Ferril Lake, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. While all of these parks are beautiful in the summer, a dusting of snow over the green makes a walk an enchanting experience.
There’s nothing quite like hiking through the wilderness surrounding Denver, and that rings true even in the winter. Rocky Mountain National Park offers arguably the best winter hiking in the state, but if you want to stay a little closer to Denver, a short trek over to Red Rocks Park is ideal. This is a great spot to explore six miles of glorious overlooks, majestic rock formations, and one of the coolest concert venues in the U.S. Regardless of which Denver winter hiking location you choose, you are in for an awe-inspiring treat.
Skating in Downtown Denver
What would a winter wonderland be without ice skating? There are several excellent locations offering the best ice skating in Denver. Our favorite rink sits in the heart of Downtown Denver in Skyline Park. This outdoor rink allows you to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city while giving you access to the many shops and restaurants surrounding the park. You can rent skates and hit the ice or grab a hot chocolate or coffee and watch skaters against the backdrop of the bright Denver lights.
You’re planning the perfect winter vacation to Denver, and you can’t seem to figure out where to stay. Problem solved! Historic Castle Marne is situated in the heart of Denver, giving you convenient access to all of the nightlife, restaurants, and museums. Our accommodations are second to none in the Mile High City, and our gourmet breakfast will fill you up for a day of exploring Colorado’s unbelievable landscape.