From the Rocky Mountains to historic towns nestled in snow-covered valleys, Colorado is certainly one of the most popular states in the country due to its range of experiences available for winter enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for the ultimate winter wonderland then you’ve got to check out the many multi-state road trips available to get away, enjoy some cocoa or wine, or engage in some other winter activity. The mountains look dramatic and beautiful this time of year. Not to mention, with the smoky skies of summer long gone, it gives the landscapes a crisp look.
From ski bunny holidays to backcountry hut trips and romantic hot springs, here are some of the best winter getaways within a six-hour drive from the Front Range:
Known as the “Switzerland of America,” Ouray is a winter wonderland that captivates visitors with its charm and breathtaking scenery. Nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, this town offers a unique winter experience, boasting mountain vistas, frozen waterfalls, and a welcoming atmosphere from the locals. Lovers of winter can indulge in a myriad of outdoor activities, from ice climbing on the famous Ouray Ice Park to snow shoeing on the trails in the surrounding Uncompahgre National Forest. The town itself has a nostalgic ambiance, with its historic architecture and sweet little cabins.
Visitors can stroll along on the charming main street, lined with Victorian-era buildings, and pop in and out of local breweries and cute bars and pubs. If you get the screaming barfies (read: numb arms) from walking around, the Ouray Hot Springs or Orvis Hot Springs will bring the feeling back into your frozen hands and body. infamous hot springs.
For a winter getaway that combines the allure of the Tenmile and Sawatch Ranges, Leadville is an excellent destination. Affordable Airbnbs and quaint cabins, alongside a historic saloon on Main street, serve as ideal home bases for exploring nearby Copper Mountain. The town offers diverse activities, including fat biking on its trails and snowshoeing at the base of the Sawatch Range.
Skiing enthusiasts can hit the slopes at Copper Mountain, while those seeking a unique stay can check out the Slumberyard at Freight—a collection of cabins named after Leadville’s legendary “women of the night.” Adventurous souls can even opt for winter camping at Twin Lakes or Turquoise Lake, embracing the beauty of the snowy landscapes.
Pagosa Springs, known for its sprawling hot springs and breweries, is another ideal spot for a Colorado winter vacation focused on relaxation and recreation. Visitors can embark on snowmobiling adventures or spend blissful days hopping from pool to pool at Pagosa Hot Springs, The Springs Resort and Spa, Healing Waters Resort and Spa, or the Overlook Mineral Spring Spa. The mineral-rich waters offer a rejuvenating experience amidst stunning backdrops and we highly recommend going at sunrise or sunset.
This hotspot is not only a haven for relaxation but also a very recommended romantic getaway. The spa-friendly vibes and beautiful scenery make Pagosa Springs an ideal destination for couples seeking a retreat for a few days.
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe is known for its charming atmosphere, with adobe architecture, narrow streets, and a renowned cultural heritage. The city takes on a special kind of beauty during the winter months, with the adobe buildings complemented by dustings of snow.
While it can get quite cold in the winter, the crisp and clear days can be invigorating for those seeking a chance of pace and scenery. If you’re looking to enjoy outdoor activities, you can explore the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains for skiing or snowshoeing and the snow-capped landscapes provide a scenic backdrop for outdoor adventures.
If you’re looking to change up the restaurant scene from Colorado and catch a bite to eat after the winter activities, Santa Fe is renowned for its diverse culinary scene, with a focus on Southwestern and Native American cuisine. Warm up with some traditional New Mexican dishes like green chile stew or enjoy the city’s unique fusion of flavors.
Known for some of the best skiing in the country, Taos is a winter paradise for many around the nation. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos Ski Valley annually draws in winter enthusiasts from around the globe. The resort has a diverse range of slopes catering to all skill levels, from beginners to experts and the landscape adds to the allure, providing a lovely backdrop for outdoor activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Beyond the slopes, the town of Taos always offers a unique blend of Southwestern culture and art. The historic Taos Pueblo showcases centuries-old adobe architecture, while the town’s vibrant art scene has numerous galleries and studios that line the streets.
Moreover, Taos provides a distinctive cultural experience with its rich Native American and Hispanic heritage. Travelers can explore the traditional craftsmanship and intricate artistry at local markets, delve into the history of the region, and enjoy that Southwestern cuisine.
At the end of the day, the Front Range of Denver serves as a gateway to a ton of varying winter wonderlands. Whether you seek the old school feel of Ouray, the relaxation in Pagosa Springs, or the green chili in Santa Fe or Taos, these winter getaways promise a great experience within a six-hour drive.
*Updated as of December 7, 2023