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4 Unconventional Ways to Enjoy Colorado in Winter

In Colorado, winter beauty comes in many forms, whether it’s a light dusting of snow on sagebrush, moonlit powder on a quiet trail or a mountainside blanketed in ivory — all grandeur best experienced in unconventional ways. Here are just a few ideas.

Winter ballooning
Winter ballooning
Tour Colorado by sidecar with City on the Side
Tour Colorado by sidecar with City on the Side
Tubing at Saddleback Ranch in Steamboat Springs
Tubing at Saddleback Ranch in Steamboat Springs

Airborne

Colorado’s hot-air balloon pilots are so eager to make an aeronaut out of you that they’ll even toast you with champagne upon landing. 

In Fraser, Grand Adventures’ pilots share area history and ballooning tidbits while floating above old stagecoach stops and the Continental Divide. Tip: Be on the lookout for elk, who fancy the cooler weather. 

With Life Cycle Balloon Adventures in Longmont, help the crew set up for your ride or enjoy a steaming pre-flight beverage. Then float with the gentle morning breeze over Boulder’s cityscapes before reveling in sights of 14,259-foot Longs Peak.

With Adventures Out West in Colorado Springs, you might glimpse anything from the sprawling great plains to snow-marbled Pikes Peak. Bonus: Your champagne toast comes with a continental breakfast. 

Find more hot-air balloon outfitters at COLORADO.com/Ballooning.

From Behind a Lens

Whether the object of your affection is a phone or 35mm, images of our photogenic state will surely earn you plenty of bragging rights. Book a tour to get expert guidance and the best shots.

With Wilderness Rides and Guides, year-round half-day photo tours of Boulder hit the historic downtown, photogenic Chautauqua Park and Eldorado Canyon State Park. Without the summer crowds, Eldorado’s dramatic sandstone cliffs are dreamily quiet and extra stunning dressed in white. 

On a photo safari in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park and Grand Lake with Yellow Wood Guiding, your subjects might be elk, mule deer, turkeys
and coyotes, or ice patterns on Dream Lake worthy of an abstract masterpiece. 

Big Sun Photo Tours’ two- to three-day excursions offer opportunities to capture the March crane migration through southern Colorado’s Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. Thousands of greater sandhill cranes flock to this San Luis Valley wetland between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan ranges, so the alpenglow provides bonus photo ops.

Read about other great winter photo spots at COLORADO.com/WinterPhotos.

Horse Powered

Experience Colorado’s snowy landscapes like our early explorers and settlers did — from the back of a noble steed or horse-drawn carriage.

Get paired with an equine companion for Wolcott-based Triple G Outfitters’ 90-minute ride through snow-packed fields, past icy creek beds and frozen flora in Vail Valley to the top of a mesa with a view that’ll leave you breathless. 

At Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, wintertime horseback rides with Sombrero Stables traverse snow-kissed meadows and forests, but evening sleigh rides are like a living Christmas card: A pair of horses will whisk you to a campfire next to an old homestead for hot cocoa.

Saddleback Ranch in Steamboat Springs boasts a tubing and dinner package that includes sledding time on their own groomed Yee-Haw Hill, a sleigh ride under the stars to a gourmet meal at their lodge with all of the fixins and a roping lesson. Yee-haw, indeed.

Discover more horseback-riding outfitters at COLORADO.com/horsebackriding.

Other Awesome Ways to See Our Sights

Encounter next-level viewpoints of our wintry landscapes on these out-of-the-box rides.

Tour downtown Denver or Clear Creek Canyon and the gold rush towns of Central City and Black Hawk from a classic motorcycle sidecar with City on the Side’s year-round tours. Helmets, goggles, gloves, heated blankets and doting driver are included (cool leather jackets are not). 

The sight of steam rising from a balmy hot springs as snowflakes fall from the sky is truly unforgettable. Soak it all in at Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, where 16 natural mineral pools and a freshwater family pool adjacent to the Colorado River delight the body and soul in any season.

Climb through the Roosevelt National Forest on a private snowcat tour with Estes Park Outfitters for an outlook so high, you’ll see all the way to Denver. If the timing’s right, book a full moon tour for extra-special panoramas.

Peek out from a tree stand or ground blind during a hunting adventure on Colorado’s eastern plains with J&D Outfitters. They’ll put you up, home-cook your meals and transport you to the best hunting spots on 160,000 acres of prime deer, antelope and turkey country.

Keep in mind: Whether you’re hot-air ballooning or chasing the sunrise on a photo tour, winter activities are weather dependent.