Day Trip to the Ski Resorts

The Pikes Peak region really has it all. Hiking, fishing, ATV trails, horseback riding, amazing natural landmarks and best of all–it’s within driving distance to Colorado’s major ski resorts.

Our moderate climate makes this a great winter destination. Coming from the Midwest, my husband and I love that winter time is sunny in Colorado! And in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region, lots of sun and not much snow means hiking year round. We can take the kids, the dogs, and our out-of-town friends on the trails we love and get glimpses of those breathtaking panoramas almost any day of the year.

I know many people come to Colorado during the winter for time on the slopes, but I say, why not have both?

Our toddler hiking on the well-groomed Nordic trails. At 2, he’s too young for ski school, but we had fun of our own!

Major resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail are about two hours away which makes for an easy drive and a fun day-trip in the snow. But come back to our neck of the woods, and enjoy the nicer weather along with other perks. You’ll save some cash by staying farther from the ski resorts, so you’ll be able to buy some souvenirs, go out to eat, and enjoy more than what your lift ticket can get you. And you can mix-up your daytime adventures by staying in a part of the state with a very different climate. One day you can go hiking or sight-seeing; the next day you can ski!

Another thing my husband and I love to tell visitors: check out the smaller ski resorts–especially if it’s your first time. Breckenridge is amazing. The views are wonderful, the skiing is first-class and you’ll have lots of fun. But so will everyone else. It’s a well-known resort, so it’s where people think to go. That means long lines to the lift, crowded runs down the mountain, and standing-room only in the lodge.

The Panda Patrol ski school was great!

We recently took a day-trip to Cooper Mountain in Leadville, Colorado, and it was the perfect place for some snowboarding for my husband, our 4-year-old tried skiing for the first time, and our toddler and I spent the day hiking and snowshoeing through the Nordic Center right next to the resort. Our favorite part, though, was the price. An adult lift ticket cost $54; a half day lesson, lunch and afternoon daycare cost $110 (rentals included); and my pass on the Nordic trails cost $15 (our 2-year-old went for free). That’s chump change compared to those major resorts!

And while the temperature stayed in the single digits in Leadville, we drove home and back into 40-degree weather. It was really nice after a long day to not have to freeze while unloading the car!

Rock Climbing in Garden of the Gods

Great, sunny weather makes rock climbing possible year round.

Garden of the Gods is one of the best known attractions in Colorado Springs. Locals and out-of-towners alike flock to this iconic site to stretch their legs and also take some of the best pictures in town! Whether you’re running, biking, walking the dog, out with the stroller, horseback riding or just looking to take a drive, Garden of the Gods is a must-see any time of year.

The moderate climate keeps much of the winter blues (and the snow) at bay which has made this a year round destination for rock climbers as well.

There are a few rules before you climb. First, you must fill out a climbing registration form to get your climbing permit with the city. It’s free to register, and you can do it online.

Second, you must use proper Technical Climbing equipment and practices. You can review those on the City’s website here. The City mentions some common-knowledge rules for climbing throughout Colorado Springs on the same page.

A guide is a great resource to use on your first trip skyward in Garden of the Gods. Front Range Rock Climbing Company offers half- or full-day tours which they cater to any skill level. They’ll provide the gear, the know-how, and even give you some great pictures to take home.

Easy Hike, Beautiful Views

The Siamese Twins rock formation in Garden of the Gods is a must for any trip Out West! While traveling around the park loop, head towards the balanced rock formation. Pull off into parking area #14 and get your camera ready. It’s an easy hike to get to the formation. If you’re taking pictures with your smartphone, set it to HDR mode to get the best photo quality.

Siamese Twins rock formation in Garden of the Gods, pull off area 14.