Your Colorado Winter Adventure Bucket List

winter view from rustic cabin

Colorado isn’t just magnificent with its summer sunshine and majestic mountain vistas. Winter transforms it into a wonderland of frosted peaks, glittering ice, and endless opportunities for adventure. But where do you start? This blog will help you craft your Colorado winter bucket list, complete with the perfect van rental to help you explore every place on this list and more! Before your journey, read our 10 Tips for Your First Time Van Rental in Colorado and Essentials for Every Colorado Road Trip.

snowy colorado mountains

1. Rocky Mountain National Park:

No Colorado winter adventure is complete without a visit to this crown jewel. Trade your car for a pair of snowshoes and embark on a serene journey, past frozen lakes and snow-covered trees. Hike to Dream Lake, a gem nestled amidst the towering peaks, or challenge yourself with the Emerald Lake Trail, a route offering breathtaking panoramas.

There will be fewer tourists in the winter, and with a good pair of snowshoes or micro-spikes, the adventures in this national park only continue. 

Must-See: Bear Lake, frozen and serene under the winter sun, is a photographer’s paradise. For stargazers, the park offers unmatched views of the Milky Way – just bundle up, as temperatures can plummet at night. 

frozen lake, Colorado

2. Take a Thrilling Ride on Monarch Pass:

This isn’t your average highway drive. Buckle up for a breathtaking journey on Monarch Pass, a winding mountain road reaching an elevation of 11,312 feet. Hairpin turns and dramatic drops keep you on the edge of your seat, but the reward is unparalleled scenery.  

Witness snow-capped peaks and valleys carved by ancient glaciers. Just remember, winter weather can be unpredictable, so check road conditions before heading out. 

Must-See: Stop at the Monarch Crest Viewing Area for panoramic views that will leave you speechless. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a detour to Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa for a soak in the hot springs. 

winter driving, snowy roads

3. Immerse Yourself in Hot Springs Bliss:

After a day of icy adventures, soothe your muscles and soul in Colorado’s legendary hot springs. Soak in the geothermal waters at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, the world’s largest hot spring pool, or head to Strawberry Park Hot Springs for a more rustic experience. Relax under snow-covered mountains,  as steam rises from the pools and the warmth seeps into your bones.

feet in hot springs

Must-See: For a unique experience, try the Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves in Glenwood Springs. Here, you can inhale naturally occurring steam in underground natural vapor caves, said to have therapeutic properties. 

4. Go Ice Fishing on a Frozen Lake:

Colorado’s pristine lakes transform into winter wonderlands perfect for ice fishing. Cast a line through the ice on Grand Lake, known as the “Fishing Capital of Colorado,” or try your luck at Dillon Reservoir, offering breathtaking views and abundant fish. Remember, patience and a warm thermos are key ingredients for a successful ice-fishing adventure! 

Must-See: For those seeking solitude, head to Echo Lake near Grand Lake. Its remoteness ensures a peaceful fishing experience surrounded by stunning scenery. 

man ice fishing on frozen lake

5. Witness the Frozen Magic of Hanging Lake:

This iconic gem near Glenwood Springs takes on a new kind of magic in winter. Hike through a snow-covered forest to reach the frozen Hanging Lake, suspended like a crystal teardrop between towering cliffs. The contrast of ice and rock creates a scene of otherworldly beauty that will leave you mesmerized. 

Must-See: Arrive early! Parking at Hanging Lake is limited, and the hike can get crowded, especially on weekends. Pack traction devices for your shoes, as the trail can be icy. 

hanging lake, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Remember, winter in Colorado can be unpredictable. Dress in layers, check road closures before heading out, and most importantly, embrace the magic of the season. With a little planning and a spirit of adventure, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime. 

This is just a taste of the endless adventure possibilities that await in Colorado’s winter wonderland. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, book your van rental, and get ready to experience the magic for yourself! 

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