Winter Wonderland: Is Colorado The Best Place On Earth?

Most people hate the first signs of winter; cold days, long nights, long-johns under your trousers, convector heaters in your living room, windscreens iced over. But one winter holiday in Colorado and you will see a whole new side to the cold months; you will come to learn that Paradise blooms in winter. It is sublime.

What’s more, it is a gold mine specked with with some of the most stunning mountain towns and resorts you can find anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for long swooping slopes, hiking trails, mountain bike routes, a treasure hunt, impossible vistas or just plain old luxury; everything you could possibly dream about can be found in the sunshine state. Goodbye winter, hello heaven.

A for Aspen

This has to be the most famous of all of Colorado’s mountain towns (“I’m talking about a little place called Asssssssspen.” Thank you for everything Dumb and Dumber), and the reasons why. No, it isn’t the fact it houses some of Hollywood’s most renowned stars; it is because it offers it’s residents some of the most staggering views in the world. It is mountain vistas at their most magical, the Maroon Bells.

But unlike so many of life’s wonders, this one beauty isn’t based on distance because the closer you get the more awesome it becomes. Yes, we are talking abou the holy trinity of winter recreation. Aspen offers skiers the chance to explore four incredible areas, each with their own personalities.

What better way is there to crush winter and have an unforgettable adventure?

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The Silverstone of Skiing

Silverton village; this should be the final destination for anyone riding the infamous Million Dollar Highway. The reason for the name is simple; the views are worth a million bucks, albeit they do come at the cost of this steep and potentially dangerous mountain path.

We don’t want to say too much, but it is not for the faint-hearted. Tucked away, high up in the San Juan mountains, this little (and we mean little) town has garnered a fierce reputation for being one of the most incredible ski resorts in Colorado.

It’s hard to nail it down to any one reason, but most people who’ve been there talk about the soul it has. They talk about the incredible skiing and the soul.

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Snowmass Village

These place reeks of luxury. It is full of hot tubs, sun decks, mountain meadows, gorgeous views and some of the most incredible Snowmass rentals of any ski resort. But don’t confuse this with a spa break because people who visit Snowmass go for the action, for the adrenaline, for the outrageous skiing opportunities. This place just buzzes.

All year round, this place feels alive. It is the perfect place to escape and feed your mind, body and soul, crushing the slopes by day and enjoying the vibe at night. It is epic. But it is known for it’s snow.

It gets so much snow, and that gets evenly distributed across three-and-a-half thousand acres, which means there is no chance for boredom or tedium to even consider manifesting.

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Let’s Toast Durango

Want to be at the heart of it all, then look no further. Durango offers some of the best of everything, no matter what your chosen adrenaline is, and that is because amid the mountains is the Animas river. This means you can go from skiing and mountain climbing to kayaking and rafting within a matter of moments, if you so wish and, well, your body can hack it that is.

But that isn’t all, because Durango is also surrounded by some of the most irresistible lowlands which means it is also an ideal place for those who lean more toward the wheels and want to exercise their ability to mountain bike some of the state’s best trails. In fact, there are well over a thousand miles in the immediate area surrounding this mountain town alone.

So if that is the way you lean, then why look any further; chuck the bikes on the roof and start taking on some of their world-famous canyon runs. But it isn’t just about the mountain fun, it also has one of the most mind-blowing railroad links that leads to Silverton.

It is a narrow gauge train that was built some serious years ago, specifically designed to take on some of the narrowest mountain routes you’ll ever see. It is a truly breathtaking experience.

Hooray for Ouray

It’s back to the San Juan mountains, although this one offers a very different experience to that of Silverton, and that is mainly because of where the town is situated: in a huge canyon. This means it is surrounded by mountains, and that means those who visit are surrounded by opportunities to ice-climb (it even has a ice-climbing park, which is insane).

However, it isn’t the ideal place to visit if it is skiing that you crave because there aren’t any resorts nearby. But that’s not a bad thing, because this place has a gorgeous atmosphere, one that is created just for those winter months but one that is naturally sustained. It’s less about super-speed and more about a relaxing visit.

It even has hot-springs located bang in the middle of town, which offer some of the most attractive sunsets ever seen, as you look out at the high mountain peaks and wide passes. It’s the very best of merging civilisation with nature.

Estes Park, Baby

Made famous by Kubrick’s The Shining, this place is a dreamland for families, especially those who don’t ski. And that is because it offers some serious snow-free activities. There is karting and bungee jumping, huge slides and mini golf and, on top of that, there is a wealth of culture to be discovered too.

There are museums and art galleries and delicious restaurants, all of which sit on the edge of the Rocky Mountain national park, which, in case you hadn’t guessed already, means adventure is out there. Trust us.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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