By Jennifer Broome
During the holidays Colorado’s storybook mountain towns turn into magical snow globes filled with flurries of activities. In the spirit of the “12 Days of Christmas,” here are 12 ways to add extra sparkle to your Christmas in Colorado vacation.
1. Find festive fun during the 12 Days of Aspen. This historic mining town turn ski town fills with holiday-themed festivities from crafting in Santa’s Workshop to caroling. For an extra special excursion, take a sleigh ride, ski or snowshoe to Pine Creek Cookhouse in the picturesque Castle Creek Valley.
2. Get an adrenaline rush in Breckenridge dog sledding or snowmobiling with Good Times Adventures. Mush a team of dogs on a scenic 6-mile tour in Swan River Valley or “Ride the Divide” snowmobiling up to 11,585 feet above sea level on the Continental Divide.
3. Step into an icy fairytale in the Ice Castles made of hundreds of thousands of icicles in Dillon. There’s ice slides, tunnels, fountains and frozen thrones. You can also walk through a twinkling winter wonderland in Vail’s Magic of Lights. The halfmile loop is adorned with half a million lights.
4. Experience a national park covered in a blanket of snow. In Estes Park, go snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can also go sledding in the park at Hidden Valley. On the west side of the park, stay in Grand Lake and cross-country ski in Kawuneeche Valley. You could spot an elk, moose, fox or snowshoe hare.
5. All aboard to ride the rails. In Durango, climb aboard a vintage steam train in a wonderful re-creation of the classic holiday story The Polar Express. It’s a special steam train trip to the North Pole. In Georgetown, you can take a Winter Holiday Train through a snowy forest filled with lights.
6. Go up, up and away and then giddy up in Steamboat Springs. Rise above the snow-covered Yampa Valley on an early morning hot air balloon ride with Wild West Balloon Adventures. In the afternoon, saddle up for a winter trail ride at Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch. On both, you’ll see Steamboat’s legendary ChampagnePowder® sparkle like diamonds on a sunny winter day.
7. Jingle all the way on a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Telluride surrounded by the jaw-dropping scenery of the San Juan Mountains. Telluride Sleighs and Wagons takes you on a sleigh ride to dinner at the historic Aldasoro family ranch. Near Winter Park, dash through the snow on a sleigh ride at scenic Devil’s Thumb Ranch.
8. Play in the world’s largest snow fort. The Kidtopia Snow Fort is atop Dercum Mountain at Keystone. Afterwards, have a friendly competition snow tubing down a multi-lane hill.
9. Spend Christmas in the “Switzerland of America.” The historic mining town of Ouray is filled with Victorian-era buildings and hot springs. It’s also a world-renowned ice climbing destination.
10. Enjoy some downtime soaking in thermal hot springs along Colorado’s 720-mile Historic Hot Springs Loop. Pagosa Springs is home to the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring. It’s also close to Wolf Creek Ski Area. The world’s largest mineral hot springs pool is in Glenwood Springs. Sunlight Mountain Resort and the four peaks of Aspen Snowmass are nearby.
11. Spot Santa on the slopes. Even with his busy holiday schedule, Santa is seen every year taking some turns at Loveland Ski Area. He hops around to other ski areas and resorts too.
12. Watch a torchlight parade. Telluride and Winter Park traditionally celebrate Christmas Eve with magical on-mountain processions. Ring in the new year watching one at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper, Crested Butte, Keystone, Purgatory, Steamboat or Vail.
Visit your local AAA Travel Agent to plan your trip to Colorado any time of year!
(Go Magazine Nov-Dec 2021)