How to Make the Most of Your Winter Vacation to the Colorado Rocky Mountains
The mountains of Colorado are home to some of the best places to ski and snowboard in the world. Colorado’s steady supply of fresh powder and its prime location within the Rocky Mountains combine for a snowbound experience unlike any other. With 26 different resorts to choose from, there’s a mountain in Colorado for every type of skier and snowboarder.
Whether it’s your first time in the Centennial State or you’re a seasoned vet looking for a way to shake up your annual trip, check out the following guide to make the most of your winter vacation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains:
Find the Right Ski Resort for You
The ski resort you choose can make or break your trip to Colorado’s mountains. Before you arrive, you’ll want to do your research to know the pros and cons of each resort. Doing so will ensure you get exactly the experience you are looking for. For those that frequent Colorado, a little research can lead to finding your new favorite resort. For example, Colorado is particular about its snowfall so you’ll want to check the snow reports of the resorts you’re considering before choosing.
For those looking to get the best bang for your buck, check out Arapahoe Basin. A-Basin has one of the longest ski seasons in Colorado, opening in October and closing as late as July. It has a laid-back local vibe centered around the love of skiing and snowboarding. A-Basin’s regulars value good snow and sparse crowds among all else, but it can be a little more difficult than other resorts because of its high-altitude location. If you are after deep, fresh powder and the maximum amount of runs possible, all at a reasonable price, Arapahoe Basin is the resort for you.
If you want to do more than just hit the slopes during your time in Colorado, Vail is one of your best options. The resort is arguably the most famous ski resort in Colorado and offers close to 200 fantastic runs over 5,300 acres. Despite all of this space, Vail can still be plagued with crowds, and lift tickets can cost a small fortune compared to other resorts. However, the nearby ski town has plenty of activities along with fantastic restaurants and shops. Check out our deep dive into some of Colorado’s fantastic underrated mountain resorts to find more options.
For the best experience on the mountain, make sure to book your trip in March. The snow has been able to accumulate since November and is at its deepest at this point in the season. This accumulation of snow also means that your mountain of choice will have most, if not all, of its lifts and runs open. Allowing you to experience all your resort of choice has to offer. The gorgeous blue skies of Spring in Colorado certainly won’t make your trip worse.
Take Advantage of Off-Mountain Activities
A trip spent solely ripping down well-groomed runs or blasting through fresh powder can make for unforgettable memories. But, to make the most of your time in Colorado, take advantage of the wide array of other activities available in Rocky Mountains away from the resort. From snowmobiling to soaking in natural hot springs, there’s something for everyone to do in between days on the trails.
If you’re up for an adventure, explore Colorado’s beautiful and expansive backcountry via snowmobile or snowshoe. You’ll see some of the most beautiful scenery Colorado has to offer, and it could lead to some of the best skiing and snowboarding of your life. If you want to get to know the area, sign up for a guided tour to spend less time looking for that amazing spot and more time shredding. Plus, it’s always nice to have local knowledge on hand for things like snow conditions and avalanche possibilities.
For those looking to spend their time off the slopes relaxing, head to one of Colorado’s many hot springs. It doesn’t get much more relaxing than a long soak in one of these minerally rich and naturally heated springs. Imagine if it was snowing! These hot springs generally sit at around 80-120oF all year long, keeping you nice and toasty during the colder months. If you really want to treat yourself or your loved one, head to Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat for a couples massage in a private pool.
Remember to Layer
Colorado’s weather is known to be temperamental. The day can start off sunny and 40 degrees and then quickly shift to cloudy, windy, and well below freezing. Layering your clothing is essential to staying warm and comfortable in unpredictable conditions, especially while snaking through trees on your way down the mountain. Learn more about layering accompanied by examples of what to bring below.
The first place to start is your base layer. The layer closest to the skin, your base layer is responsible for wicking moisture away to keep the skin as dry as possible. Keeping your skin dry is important in cold weather situations because it can help you to avoid getting the chills or hypothermia, in extreme cases. Because of this, our Merino wool base layers feature a razor-thin layer of wicking fiber for advanced sweat management.
Next is your mid layer or insulation layer. This layer’s purpose is to retain the heat given off by your body while still being light and breathable. It is commonly thought that this layer needs to be thick for best heat retention, that is simply not the case. With more efficient insulation and a blend of different warmth-retaining fibers, there’s no need for this layer to be thicker or more restrictive than your average sweatshirt. Check out our water repellent High-E Hoodie that works just as great on its own as it does as a mid layer.
Finally, your outer layer provides protection from the elements while retaining the warmth created by your lower layers. The ultimate outer layer blocks wind, rain, and snow while still being soft, light, and breathable. There’s no need for a hard, heavy, and loud outer layer to keep you sheltered from the elements. As with your mid layer, the right combination of fibers and technologies allows for outerwear that can be light, soft, and breathable. Using a combination of Core Construction Technology and Surface Hardened™ Wool, our Inversion Jacket will keep you warm while foregoing the hard, uncomfortable material used in the construction of other outerwear options.
It doesn’t matter if you spend a couple of times a year here or if you’re eagerly awaiting your first trip. It’s well worth your while to open yourself up to everything the Colorado Rocky Mountains have to offer. Try out a different resort, take a stroll through a mountain town, or soak in a relaxing hot spring. Remember to drink lots of water, have fun, and bring extra ski clothes for optimal layering, this trip will surely leave you with fond memories.