The Roaring Fork Valley—the nickname for the various towns in our corner of Western Colorado, from Aspen to Glenwood Springs to Rifle—is a fun place to be, any time of the year. While the summer attracts crowds for hiking and biking and exploring, winter has its vast appeal too.
Here are some winter activity ideas in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Skiing and snowboarding
Colorado is famous for its snow, and a top-tier activity is skiing or snowboarding. The Roaring Fork Valley is home to several resorts, which all include freshly groomed trails, fun lifts, delicious après options, and incredible views.
- Sunlight Mountain Resort, located in Glenwood Springs, is a local resort with a local feel. It’s affordable, family-friendly, and caters to both beginners and advanced skiers.
- Aspen Skiing Company dominates the southern region of the Roaring Fork Valley, with four different hills: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. These are renowned worldwide and are highly sought-after destinations for locals and visitors alike.
Soaking at Hot Springs
Another wintertime activity is soaking in one of the area’s famous hot springs. The Roaring Fork Valley has a rich history with these high-temperature healing waters.
- Glenwood Hot Springs Resort is the largest hot springs pool in the world; the large pool is the size of three football fields. It’s packed with local history since it opened in 1888. These days, it’s highly family-friendly and caters to children with its Sopris Splash Zone splash pad and water ride.
- Iron Mountain Hot Springs is a spa-like experience with 16 naturally heated hot spring pools with relaxing music, a quiet zone, and an age minimum, with a bar nearby. A large fresh-water pool welcomes families and kids to splash and play on the other end of the facility.
- Yampah Vapor Caves is one of the only naturally occurring vapor caves in North America. It’s steamy and relaxing down in the caves, which are heated by hot springs water.
- Avalanche Ranch, located near Redstone, offers 24-hour hot springs soaking included in an overnight stay at one of their boutique cabins or wagons. They also have time-slotted day passes available, and reservations are required.
If you’re looking for a more do-it-yourself approach to outdoor adventure in the snow, there are countless opportunities. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and snowmobiling are popular choices in the Roaring Fork Valley.
There are a few designated spots, such as the Spring Gulch Trails system in Carbondale, the West Elk Trails system near New Castle, and the Babbish Gulch outside of Glenwood Springs (near Sunlight). Otherwise, adventurous folks with avalanche training can feel free to venture out into the endless backcountry.
A few winter activity hits for kids are available in the valley as well, such as ice skating, sledding, heading to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, bowling, movie theaters, and checking out any lingering holiday light displays.
- Ice skating rinks are available for free skating at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center, the Aspen Ice Garden, and the New Castle Ice Rink located at Frank Breslin Park.
- Sledding and tubing are a ton of fun, with options at the “Whoa Nelly” Sledding Hill at Aspen Recreation Center, Willits Park, the River Valley Ranch Driving Range, the Marion Gulch Trail up Spring Gulch Road, Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel, Sayre Park in Glenwood Springs, the South Canyon Sledding Hill, Four Mile Park sledding hill, and tubing at Snowmass’ Meadows at Elk Camp.
- The Aspen Ice Karting facility in El Jebel is known for cold thrills for kids who fit the height requirement.
- Ride up the gondola for some family fun at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, including cave tours, an alpine coaster, a rollercoaster, a 4D movie theater, laser tag, and other thrill rides. They operate in the winter as well as in the warmer months, but bundle up!
- Check out holiday light displays at the Hotel Colorado and the lit-up signs in Downtown Glenwood Springs. While downtown, feel free to shop and explore local stores, coffee shops, and restaurants.
- Bowling is available at El Jebel’s Bowlski’s or Rifle’s Fireside Lanes.
- Catch a movie at a valley movie theater: Movieland in Basalt, the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale, and the Brendan Theater in Rifle.