In the heart of the winter, when Colorado’s peaks and valleys are draped in a pristine blanket of snow, the adventurous spirit finds a unique calling. Snowshoeing, a cherished winter activity, allows you to explore these mesmerizing landscapes in a way that is both exhilarating and serene. Whether you are a seasoned snowshoer seeking new horizons or a beginner eager to step into the snow, Colorado offers an array of destinations that transform into winter wonderlands.
In this blog, we embark on a journey through 11 of the most spectacular snowshoeing spots in Colorado. Each location is a unique gem, offering not just trails, but experiences rich with natural beauty and tranquility. From the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park to lesser-known havens tucked away in the state’s vast wilderness, these destinations cater to all levels of snowshoeing enthusiasts. Let’s get started on where to go snowshoeing in Colorado!
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11 Great Snowshoeing Spots in Colorado
If you’re wondering where to go snowshoeing in Colorado without the crowds, here are some of my favorite places. Make sure you research your destination before you go and check the current snow and avalanche conditions and weather forecast for your intended visit.
1. Buffalo Pass, Steamboat Springs
Nestled near Steamboat Springs, Buffalo Pass is a hidden gem with a diversity of trails. Known for its deep snowpack, it’s an ideal spot where to go snowshoeing in Colorado. It’s less crowded, offering a peaceful experience amidst thick forests and open meadows. Learn More
Tip: Check the avalanche forecast before heading out, as some areas can be prone to slides.
2. Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Ward
Just west of Boulder, this area is a quiet alternative to the more frequented Rocky Mountain National Park. It offers a variety of trails with stunning views of the Indian Peaks, making it a great answer to where to go snowshoeing in Colorado. Learn More
Tip: Visit on weekdays to avoid even the small crowds and enjoy the serene beauty.
3. Echo Lake Park, near Mount Blue Sky
This park provides an easily accessible yet less crowded snowshoeing experience with impressive views of Mount Blue Sky. The trails around Echo Lake are relatively flat, perfect for beginners and a great choice for where to go snowshoeing in Colorado. Learn More
Tip: Be prepared for windy conditions that are common in this area.
4. Gould Loop, State Forest State Park
Offering a peaceful escape, this loop in the State Forest State Park is ideal for those looking for solitude and wildlife sightings. The park is home to the state’s largest herd of moose. Learn More
Tip: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and use the trail etiquette.
5. Eldorado Canyon State Park, Eldorado Springs
While popular in the summer, this park is quieter in winter, offering beautiful snowshoe trails with views of the canyon’s dramatic cliffs. Learn More
Tip: The park’s south-facing slopes can have variable snow conditions, so check the snow report.
6. Lily Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
While RMNP is generally busy, Lily Lake offers a more secluded experience with its easy, scenic loop around the lake. Learn More
Tip: Visit early in the morning or late afternoon for the most tranquil experience.
7. Kenosha Pass, Park County
Known for its stunning fall colors, Kenosha Pass is also a wonderful winter destination with less foot traffic. It offers panoramic views of South Park and the surrounding mountains, and it’s a great location where to go snowshoeing in Colorado. Learn More
Tip: Be aware of the altitude and prepare accordingly with hydration and sunscreen.
8. Mayflower Gulch, near Copper Mountain
This hidden valley, surrounded by peaks and old mining ruins, provides a unique snowshoeing experience. It’s less crowded but just as picturesque as more popular spots. Learn More
Tip: Be mindful of potential avalanche terrain, especially later in the season.
9. Rabbit Ears Pass, near Steamboat Springs
Offering diverse landscapes and trails, Rabbit Ears Pass is perfect for those looking to explore off the beaten path. Learn More
Tip: The area can be windy and cold, so dress in layers and carry emergency gear.
10. Shrine Pass, Vail
Just outside the bustling Vail area, Shrine Pass is a tranquil alternative for snowshoeing with stunning views of the Gore Range, a picturesque location for where to go snowshoeing in Colorado. Learn More
Tip: The road to the pass is not maintained in the winter, so check access conditions before you go.
11. Zimmerman Lake Trail, Poudre Canyon
This trail offers a peaceful hike through subalpine and alpine landscapes. It’s less known, making it a perfect spot for a quiet snowshoeing adventure. Learn More
Tip: The trail can be steep in sections, so poles and proper footwear are recommended.
Follow These Tips to Stay Safe While Snowshoeing
Snowshoeing in Colorado’s backcountry is an amazing experience, but it’s important to stay safe. Here’s a more succinct list of essential safety tips for beginners:
- Avalanche Awareness: Before you go, check the avalanche forecast and avoid high-risk areas. Educate yourself about avalanche safety.
- Check the Weather: Mountain weather can change quickly. Always check the forecast before your trip and be prepared for unexpected changes.
- Carry the Right Gear: Essential gear includes waterproof clothing, extra layers, a first-aid kit, a headlamp, navigation tools, and in avalanche-prone areas, an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel.
- Plan Your Route: Familiarize yourself with the trail and stay on marked paths. Inform someone about your route and expected return time.
- Be Fit for the Activity: Choose trails that match your fitness level. Start with easier routes and gradually progress.
- Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals and do not feed them.
- Avoid Altitude Sickness: Stay hydrated, ascend gradually, and know the symptoms of altitude sickness.
- Stay Hydrated and Energized: Bring plenty of water and high-energy snacks.
- Protect Against Cold Injuries: Be alert for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Keep warm and dry.
- Follow Leave No Trace Principles: Minimize your impact on the environment by packing out your trash and staying on trails.
- Emergency Preparedness: Bring a charged cellphone or a satellite communication device and know basic first aid.
By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a safe and memorable snowshoeing adventure in Colorado’s stunning backcountry.
Learn more by reading our complete mountain safety guide.
The Best 3 Beginner Snowshoes for Colorado
For those new to snowshoeing in the rugged terrain of Colorado’s mountains, selecting the right gear is key to a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are three recommended snowshoe models that are particularly suitable for beginners:
1. MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes (Best for Trails)
The MSR Evo Trail Snowshoes are an excellent choice for beginners who plan to explore well-defined trails. They offer a fantastic combination of durability and ease of use.
The MSR Evo Trail features an all-in-one design with integrated traction sides, providing stable footing on snowy and icy surfaces, a common feature in Colorado’s mountainous regions. Their straightforward, secure bindings make them easy to wear and remove, a big plus for beginners.
These snowshoes are particularly suited for trail snowshoeing, where stability and ease of maneuver are essential.
2. Atlas Access Snowshoes (Best for Rolling Terrain)
The Atlas Access Snowshoes are designed to excel in rolling terrain, making them perfect for beginners looking to tackle varied landscapes. These snowshoes offer a balance of comfort and control, with Light-Ride™ Suspension for natural foot articulation and ease of movement. The Wrap™ binding system provides a snug, secure fit, ensuring stability on uneven ground. The heel lift bar is a standout feature, reducing calf strain on uphill sections. The Atlas Access is ideal for those exploring gently rolling terrain and seeking a snowshoe that combines comfort with versatility.
3. MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes (Best for Mountains)
For beginners ready to venture into mountainous terrain, the MSR Revo Explore Snowshoes are a top choice. They stand out for their exceptional durability and traction, crucial for navigating the challenging conditions found in mountain environments. The ExoTract™ deck combines plastic’s durability with the traction of metal, providing a secure grip on steep and icy slopes. The HyperLink™ bindings are easy to use and provide a comfortable, secure fit, while the Ergo™ Televator heel lifts make uphill climbs more efficient. These snowshoes are ideal for those who want to push their boundaries and explore more demanding mountain trails.
Where to Go Snowshoeing In Colorado: Now You Know!
As you can see, Colorado offers a winter wonderland of spectacular snowshoeing spots for enthusiasts of all levels. From the hidden gem of Buffalo Pass to the serene beauty of Lily Lake, each destination presents a unique experience amidst the state’s mesmerizing landscapes. Remember to prioritize safety by staying informed about avalanche conditions, checking the weather forecast, and carrying the necessary gear.
By following essential safety tips and respecting the environment, you can embark on a memorable snowshoeing adventure in Colorado’s backcountry. So lace up your snowshoes and explore the breathtaking winter wonderlands that await you in the Centennial State!
FAQs: Where To Go Snowshoeing in Colorado
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Q: Where can I snowshoe in Colorado?
A: Colorado is filled with fantastic snowshoeing spots ranging from easy, scenic trails to more challenging backcountry adventures. Popular areas include Rocky Mountain National Park, Brainard Lake Recreation Area, and areas around Steamboat Springs like Buffalo Pass. For those seeking less crowded trails, destinations such as Echo Lake Park, Gould Loop in State Forest State Park, and Shrine Pass near Vail are excellent choices.
Q: Can you snowshoe in Breckenridge?
A: Absolutely! Breckenridge offers a variety of snowshoeing trails suitable for all skill levels. The trails around Breckenridge provide stunning views of the Tenmile Range and are well-maintained, making it a great spot for snowshoeing.
Q: Can you rent snowshoes in Colorado?
A: Yes, you can. Many outdoor recreation stores and ski resorts in Colorado offer snowshoe rentals. Places like Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and most ski towns have rental shops where you can get all the equipment you need.
Q: Can you snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park
A: Yes, Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular destination for snowshoeing. The park offers a variety of trails with breathtaking scenery. Keep in mind that some trails might require a park pass, and it’s always a good idea to check trail conditions and any park advisories before you go.
Q: Why do snowshoes stop you from sinking into snow?
A: Snowshoes distribute your weight over a larger area. This increased surface area reduces the amount of pressure on the snow surface, preventing you from sinking deeply into the snow, which is known as the principle of flotation.
Q: Why is snowshoeing harder than hiking?
A: Snowshoeing can be more challenging than hiking due to several factors: the added weight of the snowshoes, the resistance of walking through snow, and often the need to lift your feet higher than in regular hiking. Snow conditions like deep, powdery, or wet snow also add to the effort required.
Q: What are some tips for your first time snowshoeing?
A: For your first snowshoeing adventure, start with a shorter, well-marked trail to get accustomed to the activity. Wear layers of moisture-wicking clothing, waterproof boots, and bring a pack with water, snacks, and emergency supplies. Also, be sure to check the weather and trail conditions before heading out, and consider using poles for added stability. Remember to take it slow and enjoy the experience.