Top 10 Snow Vacations for Families — Beyond the Slopes

Discover new ways to celebrate snow, from ice climbing to a hot springs soak

Colorado is world renowned as a skier’s paradise. High-altitude resort towns, such as Aspen and Vail, attract top powder-lovers internationally, but there are also heaps of snow-friendly activities for families to enjoy beyond the ski slopes. Discover Colorado’s top ten snow vacations to suit every family’s travel style:

Snow vacations for families

For the adventurous family…

Ice climbing
Imagine tackling a frozen waterfall—a solid cliff of textured ice. Your goal is to reach the top. Ice climbing is a popular winter sport that uses a secure system of tools, equipment and harnesses to scale a number of frozen façades. Ouray Ice Park is the state’s ice-climbing epicenter. For adrenaline-seeking families, check out the many introductory climbing clinics, open to all ages.

Forget a leisurely stroll through the snow! Families who enjoy a challenge can tackle an intense and exhilarating hike up Colorado’s impressive mountains. Led by skilled guides, learn how to trek from base to summit across rock and snow, testing your endurance and working as a team with your family to reach new heights. Take on one of Crested Butte’s peaks, either on a small-group climb or through a mountaineering school.

For the serenity-seeking family…

Hot springs
What better way to take in the snowy landscape than to soak in a 35° C hot spring? The state is home to numerous lodges and resorts – from luxury to rustic – that offer geothermal pools, spa treatments, water parks, and gentle winter sports. Family favourites include Dunton Hot Springs, Pagosa Hot Springs and Glenwood Hot Springs Resort.

Mountain lodges

Cherish relaxing family time in a toasty alpine cabin. Bond and enjoy each other’s company away from the noise and distractions of home. Curl up in front of the fire with board games and hot chocolate, or unplug the TV and watch the starry night sky. Some mountain cabins are self-catering, offering total independence to serenity-seeking families, while others are all-inclusive, providing meals, organized trips to local national parks, outdoor activities, wine tastings, and cooking classes. The award-winning Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs is a top-choice for families, surrounded by pristine trails to enjoy by sleigh ride, snowshoe and horseback.

For the urbanite family…

Christmas in Denver
Experience Colorado’s urban winter wonderland. Denver is powder-packed with winter activities and festive attractions for city slickers, including the traditional Christkindl Market, performances of the Nutcracker by the Denver Ballet Company, public skating, and bargain holiday shopping. Families can take in the city views from their table at Linger (2030 W. 30th Avenue), stroll through Denver Botanic Garden’s holiday lighting display and then snuggle up in the newly opened Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel.

Winter Festivals

Coloradans take every opportunity to celebrate the snow with lively festivals throughout the winter months. Enjoy November’s Christmas parades and markets across the state. In early December, Vail pulls out all the stops with Snow Daze, a weeklong street party complete with big-name concerts. Aspen follows suit with the 12 Days of Aspen festival and Wintersköl. Breckenridge, Boulder, Estes Park, and Golden are also hosts to a number of family-friendly winter festivals not to be missed. For a full listing, visit

For the woodsy family…

Not all of Colorado’s alpine trails are steep; the state is laced with soft, powdery paths that wind through evergreen and aspen forests. Strap on snowshoes and embark on a winter discovery with your family. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and stop to admire paw prints in the snow, or the breathtaking view from a ridge. Enjoy the crunch of snow and the deep silence of the surrounding nature. Rocky Mountain National Park offers guided tours for families looking for an educational experience as well as trail maps for those who wish to explore on their own.


Combine your need for speed and love for backcountry escapes by renting a snowmobile or joining a guided tour. With more than 4,800 km of snowmobiling trails throughout the state, families won’t have trouble finding a place to rent a fleet and take a snowmobile ride in Colorado. Some of the best trails are offered by the state’s ski resorts (like Copper Mountain & Telluride), leading you over rolling hills and down into snow-blanketed valleys. Children, ages 6 -13, can even take snowmobile lessons with a trained instructor on a groomed course at the Colorado Adventure Park in Fraser.

For the animal-loving family…

Sleigh Rides
Delight your family with one of the most picture-perfect winter activities… in a one-horse open sleigh! Children will love the experience of sledding through the countryside with epic mountain views. To round out the fairytale, cozy up in a nearby lodge with hot apple cider in front of the fire. There are a number of unique Colorado properties offering private and group sleigh rides, such as Beaver Meadows Ranch and Elk River Guest Ranch. For sleigh rides only, Two Below Zero in Frisco and Colorado Sleigh Rides in Breckenridge are top choices.

Race across the ice and snow in a tightly bundled sled, guided by a group of energetic huskies. Simply enjoy the ride or learn how to lead the dog team. It’s an experience that’s guaranteed to bring joy to kids and parents alike. Ride with family-owned companies like Mountain Musher in Wolcott, Grizzle-T in Steamboat Springs, and Durango Dog Ranch in Hesperus.

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Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavourful cuisine, and 25 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state’s breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 11 national parks and monuments, and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet.


  1. vistaverderanch says

    Thank you for this great article!

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