Winter activities in Colorado are plentiful and cater to just about everyone’s likes and abilities, but if you are looking for unique ways to enjoy the beautiful winter scenery that doesn’t involve skis or snowshoes you are in luck. While most would be hard-pressed to pick their favorite place in Colorado, the southwestern corner of the state would surely be a contender for most. With soaring, rugged peaks around every corner and valleys filled with charming little towns the choices for where to spend your time during your visit are virtually endless.
If you are looking for new ways to enjoy winter here in southwest Colorado, here are three of our unique favorite winter activities.
1. Take a Ride in a Glass Train
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers some of the most spectacular views around and is highly recommended as a unique way to spend your time on your winter getaway. The depot is located right off the historic main street in Durango so it makes for a very easy start to your trip. If you want to really take in the scenery, the first class Knight Sky car offers a glass ceiling to allow the beautiful Colorado sunshine in on a clear day. In this car you also have your very own tour guide who will also do your concessions runs for you so you can just sit back, relax and take in the views.
The Durango trains run year round but the winter route takes you halfway to Silverton to Cascade Canyon where you get to stretch your legs and eat some lunch before returning to the main depot. In case of colder temperatures they have a covered lunch area complete with a fire to warm up. The trip lasts for roughly 5 hours, which is the perfect length of time, just remember to apply your sunscreen before you go. If you are in the Knight Sky car and enjoy a snooze on the way back to town, the sunshine is surprisingly strong through the glass ceiling.
2. Relax at the World’s Deepest Hot Springs
Home to the world’s deepest hot spring and a stunning view over the river, Pagosa Hot Springs features 18 classic pools as well as a relaxation terrace with 5 more pools for those 18 and over. The pools offer a variety of temperatures ranging from 82 to 110 degrees so you are sure to find a pool or two that you are most comfortable in. If you find that the soaking is causing you to work up an appetite the hot springs canteen located next to the pools offers a variety of food and drinks, including beer and wine. If you wish to take your relaxation and pampering to a whole new level, Pagosa Hot Springs also offers a full-service spa onsite.
3. Enjoy a Cozy Sleigh Ride at Rapp Corral
Nestled into the back of a sleigh with warm wool blankets draped across your lap is one of the coziest ways to enjoy the winter scenery in Durango. Rapp Corral is located just off the main road (US-550) between Durango and Silverton and is surrounded by the same rugged peaks that this drive is famed for. They provide the perfect backdrop to your sleigh ride, not to mention your (Christmas card) photos. The ride lasts for about 45 minutes and is an activity the whole family can enjoy, complete with cookies and hot cocoa.
The owner and staff here are incredibly friendly and ensure that everyone has a really nice time on the trip. If animal welfare is of concern to you, I can assure you that these horses are very well cared for at this family ranch. Come spring, Rapp Corral also offers trail rides in the majestic San Juan Mountains.
Bonus: Adventurer Tip
Durango is one of the most popular towns in this corner of the state, and for very good reason. The historic downtown is filled with restaurants, shops and bars in some of the most beautiful architecture that rivals even the incredible snow-covered peaks which surround it.While there are plenty of options for where to lay your head, The Rochester Hotel is at the top of that list. Conveniently located just one block from the historic main street you can easily walk to Durango’s best restaurants and bars, leaving your car parked safely back in one of the free hotel parking spots available out back. Luckily, you won’t have to venture far for breakfast in the morning as free gourmet breakfast is included in the cost of your room. With new options available daily, breakfast menu options include things like a dill havarti scramble, french toast with raspberries and honey butter, and the delightful southwest breakfast scramble with corn tortillas. This is the perfect fuel for whatever adventures you seek.