For those who don’t ski or snowboard, winter in Colorado can feel slow — even boring at times.
But winter fun can be found in Colorado without having to strap waxed planks to your feet and slide down the face of a mountain at high speeds.
For one, you can take up the flatlander’s equivalent to skiing and go sledding, which is the almost the same thing except with less risk, less of a workout and a lot less expensive.
Drinking hot chocolate after building a snowman and launching snowballs at each other in the front yard is also an option.
So here are five nonskiing and nonsnowboarding options for winter recreation in Colorado:
Snowshowing, Indian Peaks Wilderness
Get your breath taken away — both by the high altitude and the amazing views of 12,000-foot peaks and some frozen mountain lakes — above Ward in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, a snowshoe enthusiast’s dream. From the parking lot at the Brainard Gateway Trailhead, suit up in the warming hut if you like, then head out on showshoe-only trails toward the frozen lake itself (the backcountry skiers have their own trails, and you’ll have yours; just follow the signs).
The Colorado Mountain Club’s cabin on the north side of the lake is a good spot to check out for a quick warmup before you hike back, or go beyond to Long Lake. Check out cmcboulder.org/resources/brainardskimap.pdf for a map of the area and fs.usda.gov/activity/arp/recreation/wintersports for more info.
Ice skating in Longmont, Louisville, Nederland, Denver
No outdoor ice skating rinks in Boulder this year, but grab your skates (or rent some) and drive down to Longmont, Louisville, Denver, or take a high-altitude trek to Nederland for some nearby ice skating rinks.
Nederland boasts its Ice and Racquet Park at 500 Indian Peaks Drive as the largest outdoor rink in Colorado. Admission is $8 for adult Ned and Gilpin residents, $6 for resident kids under 18, and $11 for nonresidents.
Glide around the Louisville WinterSkate at Steinbaugh Pavillion, 824 Front St., to traditional holiday music for $10 for adults, and $9 for kids age 4 to 12, and $8 for seniors and college students. You can even take a free horse-drawn carriage ride.
The Longmont Public Ice Pavilion, located in Roosevelt Park at 725 8th Ave, opened on Nov. 11. Rink schedules can be found at online, admission for Longmont residents is $4.50 for children aged 2 to 10, $5 for teens aged 11 to 17, $5.75 for adults 18 to 54, and $5 for seniors over 55 years old. Ice skate rentals are $3.50.
And in Denver, hit Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park on Arapahoe Street between 16th and 17th streets to skate. Admission is free, skate rentals are $7 for kids 12 and younger and $9 for those 13 and older.
Wildlife watching, Rocky Mountain National Park
Without the cover of leaves on the trees the rest of the year, winter is one of the best times for viewing the park’s large animals. Elk, mule deer and moose are active in the park during the winter season, with dusk and dawn being the best times for seeing full herds of elk in the meadows.
Capturing some still frames hiking the Flatirons — with morning sunlight glittering brightly off a layer of snow — can be rewarding. So grab your camera and trek into the mountains, and see if you can catch a shot that will hit calendars next year of the peaks, a frozen Boulder Falls or some ice-covered canyon walls.
Make sure you have the right equipment and know how to use it before you try, but the Ouray Ice Park in southwestern Colorado is one of the best places in the world to get started climbing ice. If you don’t want to drive across the state, head to the popular Hidden Falls or Loch Vale Gorge, both in Rocky Mountain National Park. The closest ice to Boulder is east of Nederland in the Boulder Canyon.
And seriously, put safety first. Ice climbing can be dangerous, so be sure you know what are you getting into before trying to scale frozen falls.