Colorado is famous for a lot of things. We’re dog people and craft beer people, but, most importantly, we’re snow people. As soon as the first snow hits — and even before — we’re waxing our skis and heading to the mountains. In Northern Colorado, we’re lucky enough to be able to grab those skis and head down the street, or pick up our skates and snowshoes instead.
We created a guide to the best spots for winter activities in Northern Colorado so you can spend as much time as possible outside or on the ice this season. Whether you’re hoping to pick up a new sport or practice an old one, grab your gear and hit the slopes. And don’t ever leave the sled at home!
Ice skating is one of the most festive and easy ways to get some exercise during the winter season. Luckily, Northern Colorado has seasonal options for hobbyists and year-round alternatives for the pros.
Edora Pool Ice Center is one of the most popular ice skating destinations in Fort Collins. Their indoor rink has public skate hours Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
This year, on December 17, they’re celebrating their 30th Anniversary and Grand Re-Opening following a big renovation. From 9:30 – 11:45 a.m. you can see free figure and synchronized skating exhibitions, speed skating, curling and broomball demonstrations followed by a free public skate session until 2 p.m.
NoCo Ice Center is the home of the NCYH Jr. Eagles. In addition to youth hockey NoCo offers a Learn to Skate program, Adult Hockey leagues, Curling Leagues, and public skate sessions including open skate and freestyle, stick and puck, adult and youth drop-in hockey and private rentals. It’s the perfect place to learn something new or just throw on a pair of skates and hit the ice!
Sheldon Lake at City Park
For an outdoor experience, visit Sheldon Lake at City Park in Fort Collins with your own skates. When conditions are right, skating is allowed in the southwest corner of the lake. Once it freezes, the city begins monitoring the area and will put barricades up if the ice is not safe.
One of Northern Colorado’s favorite shopping and dining destinations, The Promenade Shops in Loveland are filled with entertainment. In the winter, that includes their annual ice rink in the heart of the plaza.
On January 18 and 31, you can skate for free with the Colorado Eagles hockey team. Each day, there will be prizes and meet-and-greet opportunities with the players.
Greeley’s best indoor ice arena, the Greeley Ice Haus hosts public skate sessions, classes, clinics, leagues, tournaments, and more. Their public skate hours are 12 – 1:30 p.m. everyday and Wednesday nights 6:15 – 7:45 p.m. For something extra fun, stop by on Friday and Saturday nights from 7:15 – 8:45 p.m. for Cosmic Skating — complete with multi-colored light effects and music!
Snowshoeing is a great way to see the sights and sounds of Northern Colorado’s wilderness while it’s blanketed in snow. Many of our summertime hiking favorites are suitable for snowshoeing as well. We picked out a few of the most beautiful and accessible options to make sure you have a safe and fun trip.
Lory State Park is just north of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. Throughout the year, it’s a hot spot for hiking and mountain biking, but in the winter it becomes a paradise for snowshoers. The intricate trail system offers both long and short trips depending on your skill level and time constraints. It’s also a great place for cross-country skiing!
Mineral Spring Gulch
Along the trail from Mineral Spring Gulch to Prospect Mountain Trail, you’ll go a total of four miles. The woodland meadow has beautiful pine trees and nice views of Poudre Canyon and the distant Rawah and Medicine Bow Mountains from the top. This is a great intro hike for budding snowshoers!
The first two miles of Blue Lake Trail follows an old wagon trail, crossing footbridges over Joe Wright Creek and Fall Creek before entering the Rawah Wilderness. Blue Lake, about five miles from the trailhead, is a gorgeous sight during the winter months. It’s the typical end point of the trip, where you’ll turn around and head back home. If you venture above Blue Lake, there will be avalanche danger.
Upper Beaver Meadows
Beaver Meadows offers two hiking routes: a road and a wilderness trail. Either one is a suitable choice for snowshoeing. Along the way, you may see elk bedded down among trees near the trail or along the stream.
The route up Deer Mountain begins in a stand of mature ponderosa pine and winds upward past lodgepole pine, aspen, and limber pine to the summit, offering spectacular views of the Continental Divide. Though snowshoes may not be necessary in the bottom half, they’re necessary nearer the top and recommended for safety.
Inside Rocky Mountain National Park, you can access the Bear Lake Trailhead to Odessa Lake. It’s an 8.9 loop, but the view of the winter lake is worth it. Along the way, you’ll see both Bear Lake and Odessa Lake at the top.
Whether you want to get on the snow quickly after work or you’re ready for a trek into the mountains, Northern Colorado has something for everyone. Here are our favorites both in town and out.
The entirety of Fort Collins’ City Park is a great option for in town cross-country skiing during the winter. The soccer fields, football fields and cemetery are all open to adventurers, but the golf course offers the widest expanse of open area.
Lee Martinez Park covers over 89 acres and is another great ski option in town. Because of its wide open spaces and its proximity and accessibility, the park is a great option for an after-work ski session or a quick trip between errands.
Located west of Horsetooth Reservoir, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space consists of Culver, Soderberg, and Hughey Open Spaces. Its 29 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails connect to the Blue Sky Trail and Lory State Park trails and are open year-round for cross-country skiers and snowshoers!
This trail is a popular spot for cross-country skiers and snowshoers alike. It follows an old logging road to Zimmerman Lake, which sits just outside the boundary of the Neota Wilderness. You’re guaranteed a quiet trek and will probably see plenty of wildlife along the way! At the top you can make the trip around the lake for a longer and more adventurous journey.
The golf courses in town are open year round, but usually, if you’re skiing, no one is golfing! Both Colindale and Southridge are located in southeast Fort Collins; Collindale covers 160 acres and Southridge, 128. They’re perfect choices for in town adventures!
Sledding is the best winter sport to remind you what it’s like to be a kid again. Bundle up the kids and hit the hills for your next snow day!
Located at Hughes Stadium, this disc golf course is a hot spot for sledders when the powder hits. People come from all over on snow days to what is often called the best sled hill in Fort Collins. It’s tall enough for a thrill, but not so tall that you’ll feel scared for yourself or your children.
The hill at Fort Collins’ City Park allows you to gain some speed while still having plenty of time to stop before you run into any obstacles. Save this hill for experienced sledders so they can avoid the trees near the bottom.
The sled hill at Edora Park is located along the north side of the EPIC parking lot. The best part is you can all enjoy hot chocolate at the snack bar or slip into the EPIC hot tub afterward!
You can reach the sled hill at Kroh Park east of the pond and west of N Monroe Ave. The most popular option in Loveland, it’s the perfect hill for all skill levels.
University of Northern Colorado’s Nottingham Field
The hill beside Nottingham Field has been the go-to sled hill in Greeley for decades. You’re sure to run into people you know if you head there on a powder day!
Fox Run Community in Greeley
For a less crowded option in Greeley, head to Fox Run Community on the west side of town. There are multiple slopes to choose from and it’s a little-known area so you’ll have plenty of room!
Skiing is a Colorado specialty. Northern Colorado’s proximity to the slopes means we have no shortage of options in the winter. We picked out a few of the closest to Fort Collins so you can try them all out this season.
At Loveland Ski Area, about two hours from Fort Collins, you can ski the Loveland Valley or take a free snowcat ride to the Continental Divide — depending on your skill level. As the first mountain on the drive up through Denver, it’s the most accessible from that direction.
To get to Eldora, you’ll go through Boulder to Nederland, Colorado. Just under a two hour drive, this mountain is slightly smaller, but often less crowded than Loveland. Don’t miss their holiday festivities this year! Santa on the Snow is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the 3rd Annual Ugly Sweater and Best Elf Costume Contest is set for December 24th!
Whether you’re riding the terrain park, polishing up your racing skills, learning how to ski or just in need of a place to relax, Echo Mountain has something for everyone to enjoy. It’s another option that’s easily accessible.
Head north from Fort Collins to reach Snowy Range in Centennial, Wyoming. A much less crowded option, they have 28 trails ranging from easy to difficult and a terrain park for riders of all abilities.
Arapahoe Basin, often called A Basin, is one of the most popular mountains in Colorado. It’s 2.5 hours from Fort Collins in Keystone, but worth the drive. The resort was opened in 1946 before skiing was a popular sport anywhere in the States. The inaugural season opened with a single rope tow and $1.25 daily lift tickets. They’ve used their decades of experience in the industry to develop one of the best resorts around.
Share your favorite Northern Colorado snow sport spots with us and make sure to spend some time outside this winter!