Enjoying the Winter in Colorado

Five ways to play in the Colorado snow without downhill skis on your feet

Five Ways to Play in the Colorado Snow without Downhill Skis on Your Feet

You may think that skiing is to Colorado what jelly is to peanut butter: can't have one without the other. Or can you? There are actually plenty of ways to entertain yourself when your day on the slopes is over, or even if you’re not a skier at all. Here are five suggestions for unique ways to play in the white stuff this winter.

1. Full Moon Snowshoeing. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and head into the moonlight for a late night trek. End the evening with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Here are a couple of places to book your tour:

Crested Butte Nordic Center: Dessert at the Yurt: 2-3 mile guided snowshoe tour under the full moon. $25 for adults; $20 for kids and rentals available for $15. Includes passes, guides, hot drinks and delectable treats.

Devil's Thumb Ranch: Full Moon Snowshoe & Ice Skate. Over 12 miles of groomed trails. Equipment rentals available. Includes hot drinks and a bonfire to conclude the evening.

2. The 15th Annual Ouray Ice Festival is scheduled for Jan. 7-10 and includes fun for all ages and activity levels including ice-climbing and axe-throwing competitions, ice-climbing clinics, gear demos, fundraising dinners, auctions, slideshows and a kid's climbing wall.

3. Sledding and tubing lets clients stick close to the slopes even when they set their skis aside. Most ski resorts have their own sledding hills, some with a lift or tow available or you can scope out your own tubing hill in the mountainous Colorado outdoors.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort has two tubing hills, one at the top of Painter Boy (open during the day) and another at the base of the Red Lady Express, which opens after the lift closes.

Thrill Hill at Telluride Ski Resort, located at the base of Lift 2, is a tube course open in the afternoon and evenings during the winter months. In Gunnison, Colo., grab a sled and head to Western State College sledding hill (next to football field). The perfect hill for that toboggan is located at Cerro Summit Recreation Area, 15 miles east of Montrose, maintained by the City of Montrose.

4. Ice skating and ice fishing are two popular ways to take advantage of the Colorado lakes in the wintertime. Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison and Crested Butte both offer spots for ice activities. Look for the ice rink near the boat ramp cleared by the park service during good ice years (and be sure to bring your own skates).

Also, check out the Iola Basin for the best ice fishing conditions on the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Anglers must have a valid Colorado state fishing license (visit www.wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/ for details) and obey bag and possession limits. Blue Mesa Guide Service offers fully equipped ice fishing on the Blue Mesa Reservoir. www.bluemesaguide.com/page%208.html

There are numerous ice fishing contests that take place each winter on the frozen waters of the lakes of Grand County. In Kremmling, Wolford Mountain Reservoir's 10th Annual Ice Fishing Contest takes place in March (www.kremmlingchamber.com/events). The Green Mountain Reservoir Annual Ice Fishing Contest is also held in Kremmling. And, Granby hosts the Three Lakes Ice Fishing Contest in late January/early February and fetches $50,000 worth of prizes.

5. Snowmobiling gives visitors the opportunity to explore the Colorado backcountry. Grand County boasts thousands of miles of snowmobiling trails, including those found in Grand Lake, the "snowmobiling capital of the world."

Machine rentals retailers and tour companies open up the sport to participants of all skill levels. Grand Adventures, located in Winter Park and Grand Lake, offers a selection of tours and rental options suitable for all levels.

Enjoy the 800-square miles of the Grand Mesa in Delta County, the largest flat top mountain in world, with a machine rental from Fun Shares RV in Grand Junction.

When you are looking for ways to spice up your winter vacation, come out to Colorado for some snow variety.