Road-tripping across America is a beloved tradition, and Colorado offers an enticing invitation to adventurers. Its ever-changing seasons provide a diverse landscape for year-round exploration, with winters gifting some of the lightest, driest snow on the planet—a paradise for ski enthusiasts.Did you know that “America the Beautiful” was penned in Colorado? Yes, the song drew inspiration from the breathtaking beauty of this state, particularly the Rocky Mountains, which exude sheer magic during the winter months.
While Colorado enchants visitors in spring and summer, it transforms into a majestic winter wonderland every December, especially after substantial snowfalls. So, if you’re contemplating hitting the road for a new adventure and seeking epic destinations, look no further than the Rockies.
Embark on a Winter Road Trip Across Colorado
Starting your journey from Denver International Airport? We’ve curated a list of road trip ideas within a three-hour drive from Denver—north, south, or west—leading to an array of splendid winter destinations. Explore Steamboat Springs, Salida, Buena Vista, Leadville, Estes Park, Boulder, and the much-loved ski haven, Breckenridge.
Before setting off, ensure your vehicle is winter-ready, chart your route, and prepare for driving on snow and ice-covered roads in the Rocky Mountains. Here are three breathtaking road trip options within the Centennial State.
Glenwood Springs: An Enchanting Winter Escape
Amidst snow-draped evergreen forests, Glenwood Springs offers an exceptional delight—hot springs. Picture soaking in warm turquoise waters surrounded by the stunning Rockies while relishing food and cocktails delivered to you. Numerous spas in this serene Roaring Fork Valley town add to the relaxation.
For the more adventurous souls, the White River National Forest beckons, or consider the winter trek to the Hanging Lake. With its local ski area, Sunlight Mountain, offering incredible tree skiing and family-friendly terrain, Glenwood Springs provides a complete winter holiday experience. Rest assured, boredom isn’t on the agenda here.
Skiing in the Vail Valley: A Snowy Paradise
Skiing is synonymous with Colorado, and Vail stands out as a premier destination. Spanning 5,200 acres, this resort caters to both seasoned pros and beginners. But before packing your snow gear, prioritize safety. Given its mountainous terrain, taking extra precautions is prudent, especially considering the spike in winter road accidents in Colorado.
Apart from its renowned bowl skiing and vast skiable terrain, Vail Village exudes global luxury appeal. Few places in the Rocky Mountains can match Vail’s international charm and top-notch hospitality. Discover affordable accommodations in nearby secluded towns like Red Cliff and Minturn, while Vail’s sister resort, Beaver Creek, awaits a short 15-minute drive west.
Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs: A Historic Sojourn
For an educational yet captivating road trip, Glen Eyrie deserves exploration. Built in 1871 by General William Jackson Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs, this English Tudor-style castle remains a highlight. It offers a spectrum of educational, enjoyable, and relaxing activities for all visitors.
This abode invites you to savor tea, coffee, and cakes on chilly winter days, allowing you to unwind by antique fireplaces or take scenic walks around the castle. Located in Colorado Springs, you’ll be in close proximity to world-class attractions like Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, and Manitou Cliff Dwellings—a historical and scenic treat.
Hot Springs in the Heart of the Rockies
Chaffee County, labeled the “Heart of the Rockies” due to its central Colorado location, boasts an abundance of hot springs. From Buena Vista’s Merrifield to the Chalk Creek Canyon in Nathrop, several options await eager travelers seeking warmth amidst winter’s chill.
Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, a prominent attraction, offers expansive pools for soaking, including unique Chalk Creek-side pools. And don’t miss the captivating ghost town of Saint Elmo, accessible year-round, or the excellent snowmobiling trails in the San Isabel National Forest.
Salida, about 30 minutes south of BV, houses its own Salida Hot Springs, complemented by a historic district bustling with shops and eateries. For those seeking more hot spring adventures, venture into Saguache County for Valley View and Joyful Journey—two hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
In a nutshell, Colorado caters to both leisurely road trips and thrilling adventures. And if none of the mentioned spots ignite your curiosity, simply hop into your winterized vehicle and head straight into the Rocky Mountains—where adventure invariably awaits!