Enjoy the Winter Months

Trigg Skoe

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By Michael Berg

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With finals and the holidays just around the corner, it’s likely that we’ll encounter some sort of stress. Be it uncle Joe and aunt Kelly getting into their usual argument, or having to cram in an all nighter studying for that one class that “interests you sooo much.” Stress is not fun, but one of the best ways that I have found to deal with stress would be forcing myself to find a way to relax. Often times for me, that involves heading west into the mountains for a retreat to help reset my mind. Coming from a local Fort Collins native, here are my best recommendations for outdoor relaxation in and around Northern Colorado. (Times given are estimate drive times provided by Google Maps from Fort Collins, CO)

Natural Hot Springs-One of my favorite activities to do in the winter is explore the many natural hot springs the Colorado has to offer. Often times, the presence of these hot springs have sprouted towns throughout Western Colorado. Here are some of the closest and best options you have from Fort Collins:

-Strawberry and Steamboat Old Town Hot Springs (Steamboat, CO 3.5hr)

-Glenwood Hot Springs (Glenwood Springs, CO 3.5hr)

-Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa (Hot Sulphur Springs, CO 3hr)

-Indian Hot Springs (Idaho Springs, CO 1.5hr)

-Eldorado Springs Resort and Pool (Eldorado Springs, CO 1hr)

-Ouray Hot Springs Pool (Ouray, CO 6.5hr)

Nokhu Crags up the Pourdre Canyon near Cameron Pass. (Photo by Luke Koppa, Skier is Ben Jaacks)

Hiking/Snowshoeing/Cross Country Skiing- Taking a hike has the power to clear my mind of most anything. We are very lucky to go to school and work here in northern Colorado because there are many hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing options near by. I would highly recommend downloading the free app AllTrails and doing a little research to which trails are most popular, but here are my local favorites:

-Horsetooth Reservoir (Just west of Fort Collins, CO)

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-Lory State Park (Bellvue, CO 30mins.)

-Poudre Canyon (Larimer County, CO 30mins.)

-Rocky Mountain National Park (1hr drive to Estes Park, CO)

-Red Feather Lakes (Larimer County, CO 1hr)

An ice climber with a zig-zagging single rope. This could be prevented using double ropes. (Photo By: Nevin Fowler)

Ice Climbing: Andy Nelson, the CSU Outdoor Program Coordinator, has been ice climbing in Colorado for a while now and has some words of wisdom for anyone interested in the sport. First off, basic climbing knowledge is a must, and intro courses are highly recommended for those looking to get into ice climbing or climbing in general. Once you have basic training, Nelson recommends finding a AMGA Certified Ice Climbing Guide to lead your trips. Rocky Mountain National Park offers good fall and early winter ice climbing, and Ouray Ice Park is highly recommended mid-winter through early March. For more information and advice, pay the Outdoor Program a visit at the CSU Rec Center.  

Michael Berg ice fishing at Red Feather Lakes, CO. (Photo by Drayton Browning)

Local Ice Fishing: Contrary to popular belief around here, when the water freezes over, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop fishing! You can genuinely have a blast ice fishing if you have the proper gear, knowledge, and group of friends. Here are some local recommended places for ice fishing: Red Feather Lakes, CO | Walden, CO | Laramie, WY | Cameron Pass, CO. I would highly recommend checking out ice fishing basics on Google and Youtube, and stop by a local outdoors store of your choice for further information. The more research you put into ice fishing, the better the chances are that you will hook into fish.

Conclusion: When the high mountain lakes freeze over, instead of staying indoors, I encourage you to break out of habit and explore the beautiful winter landscape Colorado has given us. If enjoyed properly, these activities listed above provide adventures that you will not forget soon and will open your eyes to the local way of outdoors life in the winter. As always, remember to stay safe, leave no trace, and enjoy your next outdoor pursuit.