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Fall into Winter What’s new in Colorado this season

October 20, 2018 Visit USA News No Comments

Fall in Colorado is characterised by the gold Aspen leaves lighting the mountains, roaming elks and the build-up of excitement as temperatures lower and ski resorts ready themselves for the winter season. As Colorado’s winter season takes hold in the coming weeks, there are many adventures in store, as well as new openings, for those travelling to the state before the year-end, from discovering the state’s eerie ghost towns on a Wild West road trip, to tubing and ice climbing.

Ghost towns:
As Halloween approaches, we thought it would be a fitting time to look at the creepiest of Colorado’s 1,500 ghost towns, which once thrived with miners and prospectors. For travellers seeking a spooky destination this Halloween and beyond, Colorado’s past is very much still alive in these deserted towns:

  • Independence, Aspen: Those visiting Independence will endure a nail-biting experience as they navigate the heights of Independence Pass, with the former town located at 11,000 feet. Travellers can rediscover the former mining town, deserted by miners via wooden skis in 1899, on a tour with the Aspen Historical Society.
  • St. Elmo and Tin Cup, Buena Vista: One of the best retained ghost towns in the state, St. Elmo looks like the setting of a John Wayne movie. Filled with wooden storefronts and a dusty main street, visitors can reach the town by car. The neighbouring town of Tin Cup was renowned as one of the livelier mining communities, with the fate of the sheriff being sealed in the town’s cemetery.
  • Tomboy, Telluride: The western town of Telluride is steeped in history, central to the gold mining pioneers. Today, visitors can discover what remains of the mining towns from the late 1800s, taking a jeep tour into the mountains to the former town of Tomboy. What now appears as derelict wooden ruins was once home to many mining families, with its own school. Life in Tomboy was documented by a miner’s wife, Harriet Fish Backus, who wrote Tomboy Bride: A woman’s personal account of life in mining camps of the West. En route, travellers will pass through an archway carved from the limestone, known as the spot where miners met with young ladies. Jeep tours are available with Telluride Outside.

Image: Tomboy, Telluride

For those wanting to brave a spooky stay, The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park provided Stephen King with the inspiration for Outlook Hotel in The Shining. King checked in to the historic hotel with his wife, Tabitha, in 1974, the sole guests at the property at the end of the season. King experienced a nightmare during his stay, which – after a long period of writers block – led him to penning The Shining as he sat looking from his window out on to the moonlight Rockies. Stephen King isn’t the only guest to have had a scare at the property, with room 217 in particular being a hotbed of paranormal activity. This Halloween, ghost hunters should head to the Estes Park property, where a guided ghost tour can be taken or an appointment with the on-site clairvoyant can be arranged.

Image: The Stanley Hotel

Winter Adventures
As 2018 draws to a close, Colorado once again becomes a winter wonderland. Internationally renowned for its 28 ski resorts, winter activities aren’t limited to skiers and snowboarders. Here’s just a few alternative adventures in Colorado:

  • Ice climbing, Ouray: Scheduled to open for the winter season on December 15, Ouray Ice Park is home to more than 200 climbs across three miles of vertical terrain, located in the natural Uncompahgre Gorge just outside of the Western town of Ouray. A mecca for climbers, the ice park is free to enter with varying climbs for enthusiasts and beginners alike. Guided courses are available fromSan Juan Mountain Guides.
  • Snowshoeing and Soaking in Steamboat Springs: After a day of navigating the snowshoeing trails and alpine scenery in Routt National Forest, visitors can watch the champagne powder settle in the trees around them as they take a relaxing soak in the 40°C mineral water pools of Strawberry Hot Springs. Open year-round, the forest and springs are easily accessible from downtown Steamboat Springs and Steamboat ski area, with the option to stay on-site in a cosy, rustic cabin.
  • Take a ride on a Mountain Coaster, Purgatory: Extraordinary mountain views are met with thrilling bends and descents when riding the new Inferno Mountain Coaster, located in Purgatory, Durango. Providing fun for the whole family, the year-round coaster – which opened this weekend – is 4,000 feet in length with a 300-foot vertical drop encompassing nine switchbacks and a loop, accessible from the base area of the resort.
  • Tubing on Monarch Mountain: A new 450-foot snow tubing hill will open this winter on Monarch Mountain, a ski and snowboard area located just outside of Salida. Available Friday to Sunday and during holidays, the hour long adventure will offer fun for all ages.

From left to right: Ice climbing in Ouray and Strawberry Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs

Colorado Tourism Office encourages visitors to care for environment with Leave No Trace partnership
Colorado is leading the way in sustainable travel in the USA and recently announced a jointly developed set of principles aimed at guiding travellers to show care for the state’s water, land and wildlife whilst helping to protect Colorado’s special places. The Leave No Trace – Care for Colorado Principles were developed by Colorado Tourism Office and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, through a first-of-its-kind partnership. The principles include tips on how to stay on trails, use bear-proof bins, not to approach wild animals, and to leave plants and rocks as you find them so that Colorado’s nature can be protected.

Image: Elk spotted on family hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Featured Accommodation: The Source Hotel, Denver
In the heart of Denver’s up and coming River North (RiNo) Arts District, is the newly opened The Source Hotel. With its own artisan food market, in which vendors are 100% independent, the property is a must for any foodies wanting a taste of the local culinary scene. The 100-room property is also home to unusual and creative artisans, including a florist and a tattoo parlour. The hotel bar features an original New Belgium brewing concept to highlight sour beers, which can be washed down with modern Israeli fusion cuisine in the hotel’s Safta restaurant, headed up by James Beard award-winning chef, Alon

Image: The food market at The Source, credit Adam Larkey

So what’s new (or news) in Colorado for winter? Here’s just a sample:

  • Colorado Tourism Office has announced eight new travel regions
  • Wolf Creek Ski Area is the first ski resort to open in Colorado this season. The ski area opened this weekend following a 30 inch snowstorm and will continue to be open on weekends initially
  • Arapahoe Basin will open the expanded Beavers and Steep Gullies areas for the 2018-19 season with a new lift and a total of 468 acres of new intermediate and expert terrain
  • Dairy Block micro district, filled with foodie delights, is now open in Denver
  • Origin Red Rocks hotel opens in Denver, official hotel partner to world-famous outdoor live music venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre
  • A roaming food snowcat in Steamboat, the Taco Beast, redefines slope-side dining
  • Soul Community Planet (SCP) opens sustainable hotel in Colorado Springs for visitors seeking eco and wellness breaks
  • Winter Park Ski Resort will debut $30M in improvements this season, with the Amtrak Winter Train service operating between Denver and Winter Park from 1 January

Clockwise: Dairy Block Alley, Denver; Amtrak Winter Train and skiing in Winter Park

Upcoming Events
Colorado has a vibrant year-round events calendar which reflects its distinct seasons, outdoor lifestyle and diverse culture. Here’s a few of the highlights as winter kicks in. To find out more about events throughout the year, go to

  • A new opening round for the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, in which the Australian and New Zealand teams will play, will take place in Glendale, October 20 – 21 2018
  • Dior: From Paris to the World debuts at The Denver Art Museum, November 18 2018 – March 3 2019
  • Vail Snow Days, December 13 – 16 2018
  • Winterskӧl, Aspen, January 10 – 13 2019 (pictured below, courtesy of Aspen Chamber Resort Association, C2 Photography)
  • National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, Denver, January 12 – 17 2019
  • The Fat Bike World Championships in Crested Butte, January 23 – 27 2019

Getting there
Virgin Australia and Qantas offer direct flights to the US and American, United and Delta airlines have connections into Denver International Airport (DIA), the gateway to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains. A new train service will connect you from DIA to downtown Denver in minutes.

Want to book?
What: A winter fly/drive trip to Colorado
Where: Fly into DIA
When: Colorado’s winter season runs from December to April

Find out more and get a copy of the 2018 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide

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