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Get beyond the slopes with these family-friendly winter activities

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A day of skiing or boarding as a family is always a day well spent. But sometimes the kids (and parents) may be too sore or tired for another full day of either. For families seeking a brief respite from the slopes, if only for a few hours—from ice skating to snowshoeing, tubing, fat biking and more—there are plenty of unique alternatives to choose from throughout the state. Read on for a few favorite “beyond the slopes” wintertime activities.

Take a fast ride

One of the easiest ways to get your adrenaline pumping without skiing or boarding is to jump on one of the numerous alpine coasters offered year-round throughout Colorado. Ride through over 1 mile of forest at Aspen Snowmass’ Breathtaker Alpine Coaster; experience one of the longest coasters in North America at Copper Mountain’s Rocky Mountain Coaster (5,800 feet long); zip through nine switchbacks on Purgatory Resort’s Inferno Mountain Coaster; or take on North America’s longest coaster, Steamboat Resort’s Outlaw Mountain Coaster (6,280 linear feet).

Tackle the state’s tallest indoor climbing

Warm up from the cold and head indoors to the new Limelight Hotel Snowmass, the base camp for Colorado’s largest climbing wall, which opened in December 2018. Part of the resort’s $600 million Snowmass Base Village project, the 54-foot, rock-realistic climbing wall—encased in a five-story glass tower in the hotel—resembles some of the area’s popular climbs, like the Grotto on Independence Pass. Free for Limelight guests. Open to the public: $10 for a session up to 30 minutes; $5 per additional session when purchased at the same time. 12pm – 7pm daily.

Climb a frozen waterfall

Seeking a challenging outdoor adventure in winter that will test both your mental and physical mettle, much like skiing or snowboarding? Try a half day of ice climbing in Telluride, home to a wealth of ice-climbing locations that accommodate all skill levels, from beginner to expert. On a recent trip to the area, my husband, two boys (ages 10 and 12) and I got a chance to take a half-day lesson with San Juan Outdoor Adventures, which included one guide, all gear, and transportation to and from our hotel. As president and lead guide Joshua Butson says, anyone who can climb a set of stairs or ladder can ice climb. (General guidelines for kids: They must be able to follow directions and fit into gear.)

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Get a “dogseye” view

Answer your very own call of the wild on a dog-sled tour through Colorado’s wintry wonderlands. Explore the pristine Colorado backcountry around Aspen Snowmass on an hour-long Krabloonik Dog Sled Tour, riding a sled that carries two adults and a small child. Witness breathtaking views around Durango with Purgatory’s Dog Sledding tours, or enjoy peaceful valley scenery on a private trail system with Winter Park Resort’s Winter Dog Sled Rides. For a chance to drive your own team—including kids over 80 pounds with physical capability—head to Steamboat Springs’ Grizzle-T Dog and Sled Works. Owned and operated by Iditarod Musher Kris Hoffman and his wife, Sara, the “Drive Your Own Dog Team” half-day excursion comprises a 12.5-mile loop on private trails with a chance to drive the sled for up to two hours (or one hour if there are two riders taking turns driving).

Sightsee via snowmobile

Want to see a ton of backcountry without a ton of physical effort? Whether you’re new to snowmobiling, a family with children, or someone looking for a full-throttle adventure, Sunlight Mountain Resort has a snowmobile tour for you! Consistently ranked as one of the best snowmobile tours in the state, Sunlight offers a variety of tour options. Various options are available for individual or families for short 1 hour rides to all day tours ranging in price from $120- $300. 

You can also try the full-throttled thrill of snowmobiling with guided and unguided snowmobile tours throughout Fraser Valley at Winter Park Resort. In general, drivers must have a valid ID (minimum age varies from ages 16 to 18 by area), and riders must be at least 4 years of age.

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Freelance writer Heather Mundt is a Colorado native from Longmont who didn’t learn to ski until her late 20s. Now she spends ski season barely keeping up with her husband and two boys. Read more about her family’s travel adventures at or read more of Heather’s skiing stories here