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Winter Wander

With the Front Range as a Backyard, a Winter Playground Is Waiting To Be Explored

Temperatures are dropping, but your time outside doesn’t have to. The Norwegian have a saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Colorado is already known for its gorgeous weather year-round (“It’s a dry cold!”), but for some, winter tends to put the chill on outdoor fun. Take heart: with warm layers and a good attitude (and some rented gear), winter just may become your favorite season. Here’s how to take the first snowy step. 

By Foot
Hiking and Snowshoeing

Swap fields of wildflowers for breathtaking vistas of snow-capped mountains and you’ll find winter hikes to be just as glorious (if not more so!). The key? Bundling up in synthetic and wool layers, proper footwear (with the addition of gaiters and microspikes), and always the 10 essentials in your bag. (Think: food, water, first aid, fire starter, light source, extra layers, sun protection, a navigation system, repair tools and emergency shelter.) Check sources like Cotrex or AllTrails for recent trip reports.

Snowshoeing is a great way to expand your winter hiking, allowing you to see favorite trails in a new light, find solitude in areas that are otherwise crowded all summer and venture out further into fresher, deeper snow. With a much lower entry price than skiing or snowboarding, all you’ll need in addition to winter hiking essentials is the snowshoes themselves and possibly poles. Front range shops like Crystal Ski Shop in Boulder (CrystalSkiShop.com), FERAL Denver (LiveFeral.com) and certain REI Co-op locations (Rei.com/Stores/Rentals) offer daily snowshoe rentals so you can try before you buy. 

By Ski 
Cross-Country Skiing

Advanced enthusiasts will make this sport look effortlessly graceful, but cross-country skiing will get your heart pumping, quick. Also known as XC skiing, or sometimes called by the umbrella term “Nordic skiing,” this popular way to hit the trails uses skinnier, specific skis to travel across hilly or flat, groomed or off-trail terrain. There are two disciplines: classic and skate, which call for different skis. Classic is the best bet for beginners and calls on a walking-like motion to glide; skate skiing uses a technique more similar to ice skating. If you’re headed to one of the popular ski resorts near Denver or Boulder like Eldora, Keystone or Breckenridge, many are home to a Nordic center where you can get outfitted and take a lesson. See a full map of destinations and find helpful resources at ColoradoCrossCountry.com.

By Tire
Fat Biking

Hop on one of these hefty bikes to see popular trails in a whole new season. Able to traverse snow (and mud and sand!), this oversized, mountain bike-adjacent ride lets cycling enthusiasts hit the trails year-round, even when covered in packed snow. Fat bikes have oversized tires 3-5 inches wide with hefty tread, but otherwise operate much like mountain bikes. Take one out for a spin on low-key local paths or dial it up at destinations like Devil’s Thumb Ranch or Brainard Lake Recreation Area off of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. You can rent fat bikes at local shops like University Bicycles in Boulder (UBikes.com) or book a guided half-day or full-day tour with Front Range Ride Guides (FrontRangeRideGuides.com), which offers guided trips for all skill levels and includes a certified guide, the bike, skills coaching, gear and a custom tailored ride. 

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