Born and raised in Colorado, I grew up with the expectation that I would love skiing.
It’s not that my parents were forcing me on to the slopes. It was the rest of the world. “You’re from Colorado. You must love to ski.” Wrong.
I could not be more terrified of skiing. I used to try out the sport during Denver’s wacky winters, skiing with my brothers and sisters, only to have my Dad carry me down the mountain.
The last time this occurred I was 14 years old. It was time to grow up and face facts. Colorado winters and skiing were just not for me.
Most people come to Colorado in the winter to ski and snowboard. Those arriving on flights to Denver can be on a lift in just 45 minutes. However, non-skiers shouldn’t be afraid to visit Colorado in the winter. Advice from the on of the most horrific of Colorado skiers: test out these classic winter activities in the state with no need for Frankenstein boots strapped to your feet.
Ride out the National Western Stock Show: While it might not smell appealing, the National Western Stock Show is one of Denver’s longest standing events. Held for 16 days, the event presents one of the world’s richest regular, season professional rodeos, the largest horse show and Colorado’s largest trade show. From cattle shows to various rodeos, you can see how the west was won, mostly with the help of cattle, bison, llamas and alpacas. Non-skiers can soak up all of the events, including an opportunity to shop at the trade show with over 350 vendors. This year’s National Western Stock Show will be held January 7 to January 22, 2012.
Search for Gold in Colorado’s Old Mining Towns: While the rest of the world is at the ski resort, non-skiers should make it a point to explore some of Colorado’s most intriguing mining towns. In the winter they carry an appeal, one of isolation and calm. Consider heading to Fairplay, founded in 1859 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Fairplay is a mining town left untouched, just a day’s drive from Denver. South Park fans will recognize the name for Fairplay sets up in the South Park basin. Another must-see ghost town of the wild, wild West is Leadville, home to one of the largest ghost town areas in the state.
Eat up the Denver Food Scene: We might not be New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, but Denver’s tasty food scene munches quietly under the radar. Cutting edge restaurants and food trucks scatter about the city, utilizing Denver’s location to Colorado farmers, ranchers and cheesemakers. If you can’t ski, you might as well eat. Leading the pack in the Denver food scene are Bones, Colt and Grey and Root Down.
Ride the Rails, Not The Slopes: From Denver, non-skiers don’t just have to ride the slopes to see the Rocky Mountains. They can take advantage of a number of train trips through the mountains instead. Amtrak’s California Zephyr makes stops from Denver in Winter Park, Granby and Glenwood Springs. Enjoy the views of the snow and mountains from the comforts of the train car, rather than on skis. Another popular rail route in Colorado is the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, just 77 miles from Denver. The classic train trip now runs year round, taking riders up to the peak that inspired America The Beautiful, Pike’s Peak. The ride up to the 14,110-foot summit affords remarkable visions of the Colorado mountain landscape.
Drink in Golden: And if you can’t ski, you might as well keep warm with a nice brew in Golden, a short drive from the Mile High City. Golden is not just a cutesy foothill town, but it is also home to the mother ship, Coors Brewery. Just follow your nose to the smell of hops in Golden and snatch up your free beers on a tour of the colossal brewery.