The best season for adventure and cozy relaxation is right around the corner. To that end, here’s our guide to authentic winter escapes in Colorado and Wyoming.
A cozy, convenient winter getaway
You deserve a break, and the town of Lyons, Colorado, is the place to get it. This small town offers big views and a unique blend of artsy, down-home, outdoorsy fun. This winter, escape your hectic days, embrace relaxation, and linger longer in Lyons. From beautiful wintry hikes to great local eats and easy-access cycling, Lyons is primed your new favorite escape.
Hiking trails at Rabbit Mountain, Button Rock Preserve via the Sleepy Lion Trail, the Nighthawk Trail at Hall Ranch, and Picture Rock Trail all offer opportunities to stretch your legs while soaking up beautiful views. If wheeled adventures—fat biking on snow, gravel and road riding, or mountain biking on dry south-facing trails—are more your plan, hit up Lyons. The Fruit Loops tours Apple Valley Road and the South Saint Vrain, while Crane Hollow Road offers a pleasant dirt spin.
Indulge in local eats, walk about town, birdwatch, or fly-fish the iconic North and South St. Vrain Creeks. While you’re at it, hit up the eclectic selection of boutiques and charming retail stores. Take a stroll along the historic Main Street (all local, no chains) and discover shops and restaurants unique to this place only. And then wash your day down at one of Lyons’ breezy, open-air watering holes. The views alone will leave you wanting to hang out for hours here in Lyons.
Skip the crowds—come to Ski Cooper this season. Offering picture-perfect Colorado mountain views and a ski getaway free of corporate junk, This gem is your destination for an authentic Colorado winter experience.
If there is one classic Colorado ski destination you must visit this year, it’s Ski Cooper. With its renowned softest snow in the state, a variety of terrain for all abilities—including some of the best beginner trails in the country and epic powder, glades and bump runs—friendly staff and a happening aprés scene, Cooper is a fun, affordable resort for whole family.
Cooper is bringing back its famed $30 Thursday program, which includes a $30 lift ticket and specials on food, beverages, rentals, and lessons. Available for purchase online (at least 48 hours in advance of arrival), this special will run every Thursday during January and February 2023.
Cooper will also continue its unmatched season pass program this year. Featuring 62 partner resorts across the country, season pass holders ski all season at Cooper and have the added benefit of skiing three days at each of its partner resorts, from the nearby Monarch Mountain and Loveland to newly added destinations in Wyoming, Washington, as well as Midwest and East Coast resorts.
If you’re looking for epic winter adventure, get in on Cooper’s Chicago Ridge Snowcat Skiing. Thanks to new half-day tours, skiers and riders have ample time to experience the thrill and adventure of cat skiing and the breathtaking views on Chicago Ridge in the Pike-San Isabel and White River National Forests.
You’ll also find new trails within Tennessee Creek Basin for a more skier-friendly experience. And Cooper launched a new family adventure this year: Leprechaun Lane. Let your kids play in the family fun zone in the woods.
Cooper’s newest restaurant, the Timberline Taproom, exclusively features Colorado craft brews, the alluring aroma of smoked eats, and a fresh menu from chef Scott with homemade pickles, pulled pork sandwiches, smoked hummus, and beef and brisket chili.
YMCA of the Rockies, Colorado
AT two beloved locations—Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch— The YMCA of the Rockies offers up top-notch programming for the 2022–23 winter season that you will help you make the most of winter.
Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch provide the perfect basecamp for your winter adventures. From on-site snow tubing to cross-country skiing and new winter hikes to guided snowshoe trips in Rocky Mountain National Park, YMCA of the Rockies is a great basecamp for northern Colorado winter adventures.
If ice skating, sledding and alpine skiing are on your winter to-do list, the Y’s Snow Mountain Ranch location will provide the perfect backdrop. This 5,100-acre low-key “resort” offers easy access to Winter Park Ski Resort and Rocky Mountain National Park. Check out its sled dog adventures if you like the look of dog poo on snow. And burn calories for years on the 120 kilometers of Nordic skiing trails.
Love wildlife? Head to Estes Park Center. While wildlife viewing opportunities are abundant across both properties, Estes Park is an iconic Colorado locale to spot elk, deer, and birds along trails and right outside lodging windows. The resort also offers wildlife ecology classes and expert guides to help guests safely view wildlife on hikes. And new this year at the Estes Park Center, the Enger Family Nature Trail features an upper and lower loop built for all ages and accessibility levels—the perfect spot for a winter hike or snowshoe.
The Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center offers private and group lessons, as well as Nordic ski equipment rentals for the whole family, including ski-equipped chariots for hauling your littlest elves.
While both YMCA locations are great, the Estes Park Center is the place to go for all-ages indoor fun to offset your outdoor fun. Featuring a 35-foot-tall climbing wall, cozy fireplaces available across the property, well-appointed history museum, roller rink, craft center, gym and game room, the possibilities are endless for indoor fun to complement your outdoor adventures!
Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch offer visitors year-round access to iconic Colorado views and cozy accommodations. From hotel-style lodge rooms to multibedroom private cabins, affordable lodging options are available at both locations. Most lodge rooms and cabins do not have televisions, providing a truly unplugged experience.
The cabins and lodge rooms at Snow Mountain Ranch are ski-in/ski-out or in walking distance from Nordic ski, snowshoe and fat biking trails. And if you love bringing your furry family members along for the winter fun, you’re in luck, as most cabins at both properties are pet-friendly.
Eldora: Far Out, Close By
Spend less time driving and more time on snow with family and friends at Eldora. Just west of Boulder and with newly expanded parking, this Front Range gem is the perfect destination any day of the week.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary this winter, Eldora has long been the locals’ choice for easy-access skiing and riding in Colorado’s Northern Front Range. Skip the I-70 rat race, head toward quaint Nederland, and hit Eldora. Whether you’re looking for some quick laps or a full day on the hill, mellow cruisers, or thrilling steeps, Eldora has something for everyone.
Location, Location, Location
Just 21 miles west of Boulder and far away from the congestion of I-70, Eldora is the perfect half-day mountain. Spend a morning or afternoon making laps, and you’ll still have plenty of time to work or play—whatever happens to be on your to-do list.
Particularly in the early season, when every resort in the state is equal in terms of terrain and conditions, Eldora is the perfect place for Front Range skiers and riders to get some mileage in their legs in preparation for the season ahead.
Eldora also happens to be the Ikon Pass mountain closest to the Front Range, and offers unlimited access to Ikon Pass holders. And new this year, uphill access is included for all Ikon Pass holders and Eldora alpine season pass holders, so you can ride some lifts and skin a lap or two when you visit (view uphill policies at eldora.com/uphill).
Join the Community
When it comes to traveling to and from Eldora, sustainability—and sustainable transportation—remain at the forefront of the resort’s mission. Following its commitment to protecting the environment, Eldora encourages guests to carpool and use other forms of green transportation.
This season, Eldora is incentivizing these practices in a few ways: by charging single-occupancy vehicles (SOVs) $10 on weekends, holidays, and weekdays with 10 or more inches of snow in the forecast; by reserving all close-in parking (the westernmost part of the parking lot, or “Elk Lot”) for high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs) carrying three or more people; and by offering free round-trip RTD bus tickets and free shuttles to and from Boulder every Saturday and Sunday all winter long. Jump on the RTD at the Downtown Boulder Station (14th and Walnut) and get off 20 feet away from the Alpenglow high-speed six-person chairlift. Learn more at eldora.com/free-ride.
With slopes from 9,200 to 10,600 feet above sea level, Eldora offers thrilling high-country adventure just 21 miles from Boulder and 47 miles from Denver. With easy access on the RTD and nearly 700 acres of terrain to explore, Eldora should top your fun calendar this winter.
Sheridan, Wyoming, gives visitors history with a view. from the charming Main Street to the magnificent backdrop of the Bighorn Mountains—this authentic mountain town offers modern hospitality with old west charm.
Explore a new corner of the West in Sheridan, Wyoming, whose rich 140-year history sets the stage for casual strolls down historic streets where world-class museums, live music, and frothy beers are readily available. Then, when you’ve had your fill of town, venture out to explore the peaks and quiet forests of the surrounding mountains.
If you find comfort in familiarity, book a room in any one of Sheridan’s nationally renowned hotels. If you’re looking for something a bit more local, plan a night (or two) at the Sheridan Inn. First opened in June of 1893, the now-revitalized historic hotel features 22 rooms, each named after the famed Buffalo Bill and other key characters from his life.
The local ski hill, Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area, features a 1,000-foot drop accessed by three lifts and covering 28 downhill trails, as well as miles of groomed trail for Nordic skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing. The facility offers rentals and lessons, as well as a heated yurt to help you stay cozy on extra cold days.
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and challenge yourself a bit, check out Sibley Lake Trail and Cutler Cross Country Ski Trail. A short drive from downtown, these trails offer an easily accessible wilderness experience like no other.
Deep snow, spectacular scenery and the vast expanse of public lands in the Bighorn Mountains make snowmobilers drool. Play on 22 miles of ungroomed trails and 218 miles of groomed trails. Snowmobiling in the Bighorn Mountains can be easy or challenging—no matter what it, it serves up endless wilderness opportunities.
Want an aerial view? Sheridan Pilots 307 offers scenic discovery flights in vintage aircraft for an unforgettable view of the mountains.
This small town packs a big punch when it comes to local eats that range from tried-and-true classic Western menu offerings to contemporary American fare and handcrafted cocktails. Whatever your vibe, Sheridan has it.
McGregor’s Bar & Grille at Mydland Market specializes in “elevated comfort food” with a stellar lunch and dinner menus. The restaurant offers game-day entertainment, an inviting environment, and an unexpected mascot: the Highland Cows of Scotland, a nod to Sheridan’s roots in golf, a sport born in across the pond. The market is on the site of the old Sheridan Country Club, “a community mainstay and gathering place for so many years” (and previously a cow pasture across Mydland Road). As they say “Meet Me at McGregor’s” and get ready to enjoy “food, friends, and family” in this unbeatable comfortable atmosphere.
The must-visit Welcome Market Hall is a first-of-its-kind community space in Wyoming located in the old train station on Broadway. For best bets on eats, check out the Italian menu. Learn more by following on Instagram at @welcomemarkethall!
New This Year
Just across town, visitors can get a different experience at the Warehouse Gastropub, . based in a 1940s warehouse and newly opened in September. Owners Christer and Gina Johansson sought to pay homage to the building’s history while introducing something new to Sheridan. Cue the Warehouse Gastropub—a must-visit if you’re looking to enjoy a “casual environment fit for grabbing a drink, socializing and equally important, to offer affordable high quality food.”
Join the Community
With fall in full swing and winter on the way, the annual WYO Film Festival, located in Sheridan, hosts films of all shapes and sizes that are innovative and inspirational, and capture the independent spirit of the greatest storytellers. But don’t fret if you miss the Sept. 30–Oct. 2 event. Past trailers and lists of films—all with a powerful story and distinct voice—are available on the festival website. The festival is committed to the “celebration of independent film in all forms and bringing it to wider audiences.”
The Historic Kendrick House hosts friendly can’t-miss events through December, including a Holiday Open House and Christmas with the Kendricks.
Finally, mark your calendars for the annual Bighorn Rush Sled Dog Challenge, which takes place at Antelope Butte, Dec. 30–31. This event promotes dog-powered and winter sports in the Bighorn Mountains, and it’s a great opportunity to check out an activity born out of necessity—but turned into a joyride.