When the snow starts piling up outside, skiing isn't the only way to scratch your outdoor adventure itch. So how can you enjoy this season without breaking the bank? We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite Colorado Winter family fun activities, all free or low cost – and all guaranteed to bring your family together for a day of memory making and outdoor fun. Outdoor family activities don't have to be expensive, all you need is your imagination and some tips below.
Go on a Colorado Winter family fun hike + scavenger hunt
This is an especially fun activity for your youngest family members. Explore your favorite hiking trail armed with a list of 10 – 20 items for your kids to identify during the hike: from maple leaves and pine cones to animal tracks, birds and berries. Find a wealth of ideas on Pinterest (just search for “Winter Scavenger Hunt”) – it’s a great way to teach kids to soak up their surroundings! Depending on your location, some of our favorite, year-round Front Range hiking spots include:
- Betasso Preserve in Boulder: A roughly 3-mile loop, with options to extend, plus bathrooms and picnic areas
- Matthew Winters Park in Golden: Over 9 miles of trails, including stunning vistas and views of Red Rocks Park
- Lair of the Bear in Morrison: Almost 400 acres of open space make up this outdoor wonderland – usually teeming with wildlife – including picnic facilities
Go sledding or tubing
Colorado is home to some pretty impressive sledding and tubing parks – most ski areas have one complete with multiple courses and magic carpet rides that take the work out of walking back up the top of the hill. But if you don’t want to fight ski traffic or shell out the money just to wait in line, you can still find some pretty thrilling hills. Any tire store will sell inexpensive rubber tubes, grocery stores sell pretty affordable sleds, or do as your parents did and grab a trash can lid or cookie sheet as a makeshift sled. These spots are sure to make for some Colorado Winter family fun. Some of our local favorites include:
- Scott Carpenter Park, Boulder
- Robinson Park, Southeast Denver
- Ruby Hill Park, South Denver
- Sledding Hill Park, Littleton
- Cottonwood Creek Park, Colorado Springs
Try ice fishing
For the junior anglers in your family, a day spent ice fishing will be one they’ll never forget. Some of Colorado’s most popular lakes for ice fishing are located inside state parks, so the scenery is almost guaranteed to be top notch. Make sure to get a permit beforehand and know that ice fishing will always carry some risk. Look for clear, blue ice and bring a drill to measure depth before bringing kids onto the ice. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website has a great article on ice fishing safety to read before planning your outing.
Go ice skating
Ice skating rinks abound throughout the Front Range, so dust off your skates and head out as a family to hit the ice! We recommend the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park in Denver: skate for free if you have your own skates, or rent them for only $2. You can also try WinterSkate in Boulder (open November – February) or Seritch Ice Center in Colorado Springs (indoor and open year round).
Go camping together… indoors!
Some days there’s just no getting around it: Colorado can get miserably cold. When that’s the case, foster your family’s love of camping year round by setting up indoors. Choose a weekend and put it on the calendar to build excitement and practice planning. Move furniture out of the way, or have everyone in the family contribute to building a grand blanket tent. Serve dinner in the tent, take turns telling stories with the flashlight, or roast s’mores over a gas range. The only rule? Just as if you were in nature: spend the night electronics-free!
Warm temps offer different activities
As we know living in Colorado, the temps can range quite dramatically. If it's warm outside, grab your bike or hiking shoes instead of that down jacket and try these other Local Outdoor Recreation Areas in Colorado instead:
- The Flying J Ranch in Jefferson County is an easy singletrack trail and terrific for beginners (and families) who want to increase their skills and confidence.
- Hayden Green Mountain Loop Trail near Golden features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels.
- From double-wide dirt to singletrack, Palmer Park in Colorado Springs has a trail to match any mountain biking skill level. There is also lots of shade to provide much needed rest stops in the Colorado heat.
- Boulder’s Bobolink Trail is family-friendly with fairly flat paved and dirt paths.
- Hidden Mesa Open Space in Douglas County offers grasslands, shrub lands, meadows, forested areas, prairie dogs, elk, mule deer, bird species. Fun!
- In Colorado Springs’ Ute Valley, hike the trails along this hogback ridge with beautiful views of Pikes Peak. The many trails can accommodate all levels and be sure to bring a picnic to enjoy under the shade of the scrub oaks.
While we wish summer was much closer (since that's when we offer camp!), we know how important it is to stay active and be outdoors in the Winter, and especially together as a family. If you have any suggestions for us on great places for some Colorado Winter family fun, send them to: email@example.com. No matter the season, we're here to help you get outside!