5 Outdoor Winter Activities If You Don't Want to Ski

❄️ Fun Ideas for Winter: Tubing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating, Sleigh Rides, and Hot Springs

By Kyrie Collins, Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher January 1, 2020

I have a confession... I don't like to ski. As a teenager, I convinced myself that I did because all my friends seemed to love it, and I wanted to fit in. But as an adult, the more I tried it, the more I discovered that it just wasn't my thing.

Fortunately, Colorado is a winter wonderland, and there are plenty of other ways to get outside to enjoy the brisk air, bright blue skies, glittering snow, and mountain views! My family has discovered some great places to enjoy a few other winter activities!

By far my favorite winter activity, tubing is like sledding but way better! It's faster, doesn't require any athletic ability, and most places even have surface lifts (AKA Magic Carpet), so you don't have to wear yourself out walking back up the hill!

  • Copper Mountain is probably my family's favorite hill. Tubing sessions sell out, so book early. Plus, you'll save money too!
  • Aspen Snowmass offers night tubing on Fridays as part of their Ullr Nights festivities (and day tubing, too, of course).
  • The Frisco Adventure Park has a tubing hill and ski/board lessons through Copper Mountain Ski & Ride School at the same location.
  • YMCA of the Rockies' Snow Mountain Ranch near Winter Park has tubing plus plenty of other family-friendly activities to keep your family having fun. However, they do not have a tow rope or surface lift so prepare for a workout.
  • Historic Fraser Tubing Hill is just outside Winter Park Ski Resort and is on our list of places to try this season. We've heard great things!
  • Keystone Resort's Adventure Point is next to its giant snow fort. The Resort also has ALL the rest of my favorite winter activities and Kidtopia!

A very close second, snowshoeing is a great physical activity (you can burn up to 600 calories per hour on hilly terrain) that often allows you to enjoy the same spectacular views as a day on the slopes!

  • Copper Mountain has FREE snowshoe tours in the morning (ages 15+), afternoon (ages 8+), and even occasional nighttime tours under a full moon!
  • Aspen Peak Cellars in Evergreen is a locally-owned winery with award-winning handcrafted wines. Their Snowshoe and Fondue Events (with wine tasting) can't be beat for a grown-up day out!
  • Colorado Nordic Centers often have snowshoe gear for rent and can recommend nearby trails if you prefer to travel without a guide. There are more than 20 centers across the state.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park has over 350 miles of trails for your enjoyment. The trails around Bear Lake are great for beginners.
  • Several Colorado State Parks have groomed trails that are great for snowshoeing. Your annual pass shouldn't be just for summer!
  • Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) offers two-hour guided tours on Snowmass and Aspen Mountain for ages 7 and up. This was the snowshoe tour that got me hooked. We got a good dose of learning too!
  • Keystone Nordic Center offers equipment rentals, cross-country lessons, and guided snowshoe tours. Or you can purchase trail access for the day and go at your own pace like we did. Afterward, enjoy all-you-can-eat soup and homemade bread in the Soup Bistro (11:30 AM-2:00 PM daily).

Ice Skating
An hour of ice skating burns about as many calories as jogging but is lower impact and way more fun. Following are a few of the outdoor ice rinks in Douglas County and beyond. They can have a pretty short skating season, and it's been unseasonably warm, so be sure to visit the website or call to confirm open dates and hours.

Sleigh Rides and Dog Sleds
Has the excitement of the Iditarod always intrigued you? Does the idea of a horse-drawn sleigh feel like "Jingle Bells" come to life? Or do you just want to enjoy the winter scenery without making any effort beyond sitting?

  • Alpine Adventures Dogsledding in Leadville has a few different tours, and children as young as 3 years old can participate. You can even tour the kennel and learn more about these mighty pups!
  • Durango Dog Ranch and Mountain Musher in Wolcott are family-run companies with happy dogs and personalized service.
  • Breckenridge Dinner Sleigh Rides, offered by Two Below Zero, is also on our to-do list this season. We've experienced their Summer Chuck Wagon and were delighted with every aspect, from the food to the service to the entertainment.

Hot Springs and Heated Pools
Why be cold when you can soak in a hot spring? It's a little like saying "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" to Mother Nature... and it's especially fun if it's snowing because the snowflakes melt long before they even hit the water. Remember to keep a towel and a robe nearby since the walk back inside is not quite as toasty!

  • Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, close to Monarch Ski Area, has a variety of lodging options as well as nearby skiing, dog sled tours, and great snowmobiling. They have day passes, too, if you want to enjoy the springs but don't plan to stay overnight.
  • Glenwood Hot Springs Resort also offers lodging or day passes. Their Ski Swim Stay package includes one Sunlight Mountain lift ticket for each adult, one kid lift ticket per paying adult, hot springs pool access, and hot breakfast.
  • Marriott's Mountain Valley Lodge at Breckenridge has a lovely outdoor pool with great views you can enjoy during your overnight stay.
  • Keystone Resort also has several outdoor pools and hot tubs that you can enjoy as an overnight guest.
  • Strawberry Park Hot Springs, just outside Steamboat Springs, is open late and even has private massage huts.