In the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, where snowfall blankets everything in sight, sits the town of Golden. Perfect for a day, weekend, or lifetime of outdoor adventures, the town becomes a haven for adventurers of all styles once winter officially hits. You can climb and bike all year long thanks to balmy weather that lingers in the valley, while still accessing endless ridges of powder for backcountry skiing and snowboarding that are so popular in the colder months. This season, tap into the unexplored backcountry of the Rockies.
It’s All About the Snow
There is nothing quite like the first time you rest your eyes on the wilderness after a big snowfall, walking through forests weighed down from the recent storms. Just a few hours outside of Golden, one of the more unique winter experiences in the country awaits those with snowshoes or cross country skis. Loaded up with gear, proper attire and a desire to reconnect with winter solitude in nature, the backcountry yurts of Never Summer Nordic are the ideal rustic experience for those hoping to disconnect. Fill up your Osprey Kamber/Kestra with proper gear and spend a few nights away from it all in the snowy wonderland.
With 10 huts to snowshoe or cross country ski into each winter, the Never Summer Nordic yurts are accessible to all levels of outdoor adventurers, offering you a chance to hear t he deafening roar of wilderness silence, surrounded by snow, mountains, and endless views. The mileage to access the huts varies, but three huts in particular are perfect for beginners. The first two easy mileage yurts are Dancing Moose and Medicine Bow, both are found after a short 1/4 mile trek right off of main road.
Those hoping for a little bit longer of a hike are rewarded after a single mile of hiking with the stunning solitude of the very secluded North Fork Canadian Yurt. While also off the highway, this yurt rests deep in the wilderness. With no electricity, no running water and no cell service, Never Summer Nordic is a perfect for winter adventure right in the heart of the Rockies. If you do head out this way, plan early—the yurts fill up fast. As with anywhere this awesome, weekdays are your key to getting a reservation for your own yurt in the stunning winter landscape.
Pick Up the Pace
If the snowshoeing and yurt camping is a little too slow for your adventure style, get into some of the most stunning backcountry skiing terrain around in the mountains around Golden. While you could head to the resorts and ride for hours, the experience of finding your own line and riding down a new slope away from it all is as beautiful as it is exhilarating.
To start, why not explore an abandoned ski area in Rocky Mountain National Park? Known as Hidden Valley, this place closed in 1991 but has been a local favorite for generations. The low areas around Hidden Valley let you ride through trees into wide valleys along gentle slopes, while more advanced runs and terrain can be found above the closed off section of Trail Ridge Road. Offering a mellow backcountry vibe with awesome runs on slopes that are mostly avalanche-free, Hidden Valley is a treasure trove of winter fun.
Along the northeast side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Flattop Mountain is quickly becoming a favorite for clean lines and undisturbed snow. Called the Banana Bowls, this backcountry area is accessible from a short hike at the Bear Lake Trailhead in the park. After trekking for nearly two miles to Odessa Lake, the trees break open and you are rewarded with the open slopes of the Banana Bowls. This area is known for having some avalanche danger, but sticking to the eastern face of Flattop greatly reduces your risk on high avalanche danger days.
If conditions are good, head to the other slopes and experience the joy of bombing down 30-degree slopes with trees and alleys that lead to spectacular open slopes. Remember, before heading out into the backcountry for any winter experience, consider an avalanche safety course, be sure to check the weather conditions and forecasts, and preview the terrain where you’re headed. Always go with others, and carry a beacon, a shovel, and a probe.
Where to Get Your Gear
Before heading out from Golden on your winter wonderland excursion, make sure you stop by Bent Gate Mountaineering. Since 1994, Bent Gate Mountaineering has worked to promote fun and safety in the outdoors, all while building the community and the outdoors experience in town. That means selling the gear that has the best chance of improving your outdoor experience, as well as making sure you are safe and ready for anything. No backcountry adventurer should leave Golden without stopping by Bent Gate—the store is staffed by local experts and guides and frequented by some of the best outdoor athletes around. Selling the full gamut of Osprey Packs, Bent Gate will leave you prepared, excited and ready to have the winter adventure of your life.
– Via Roots Rated