Originally published on GoWorldTravel.com
“But all along the Rockies you can feel it in the air
From Telluride to Boulder down below
The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere
Is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow”
Colorado Christmas, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band got it right with their song, “Colorado Christmas.” There really is something special about the holidays in the Centennial State. In fact, at this time of year, Colorado truly shines. The snow is pristine, the air is pure – and there is plenty of space to enjoy Mother Nature all on your own.
Throughout Colorado, local communities and towns celebrate the holidays with gusto. Here are just a few places to get into the holiday spirit in Colorado.
A Golden Christmas
The small town of Golden in the foothills near Denver celebrates the holidays all month long in December. The annual Candlelight Walk (complete with the singing of carols and the lighting of the town holiday lights) takes place the first weekend of December. On the first three Saturdays in December, Golden holds an “Olde Golden Christmas Parade.” This old-fashioned holiday parade is filled with Colorado small town charm. Visitors listen to Victorian carolers and barbarshop quartets, see Santa and the Grinch, admire antique fire trucks and hear the hoof beats of the prancing horses. Free carriage rides are offered after the event, and kids can get their pictures taken with Santa.
Snow Fun in Silverton
Head to the tiny town of Silverton and experience Colorado’s legendary fresh powder on a sled or sleigh ride. Pack the family onto the Mountain Boggan or host races on the Ultimate Flyer. Check the calendar for full moon hikes and events as the mountains glisten in the glow. If you’d like to stay warm during your visit, fill your thermos with a hot Colorado Toddy: 1½ oz. Colorado Honey Bourbon, spoonful of Honeyville honey and a lemon garnish. The kids might want some hot chocolate from Animas Chocolate Company.
Colorado State Parks
Colorado is known for the great outdoors. The state has 42 state parks, 22 national parks and many miles of national forest. Locals know that one of the best ways to enjoy the parks is with the annual Colorado State Park pass that allows unlimited entry to Colorado State Parks all year long. Not sure which park to visit? One suggestion is Trinidad Lake State Park for the First Day Hike. Colorado Parks and Wildlife celebrate New Year’s with guided hikes, including a gift for hikers and hot cocoa. Trinidad Lake borders the historic Santa Fe Trail and scenic Highway of Legends. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars for wild life watching!
Colorado Hot Springs
Many visitors don’t know that Colorado is a hot springs mecca, but there are more than 22 natural hot springs and mineral waters with breathtaking mountain backdrops and star-studded skies. The towns of Glenwood Springs, Pagosa Springs, Steamboat Springs and Ouray are well known for their hot springs resorts and pools. A local favorite is the Mount Princeton Hot Springs in the tiny town of Nathrop, Colorado.
Colorado Cowboy Christmas
For a truly Colorado experience, celebrate the holidays at a Colorado dude and guest ranch. With more than 25 ranches to choose from, you’re sure to find the right fit for your family dude ranch holiday vacation. Latigo Ranch is just one example: holiday guests spend their time enjoying horseback riding, snowshoe hikes, bonfires and more.
Twinkling Traditions in Pueblo
When Slovenians settled in Pueblo, Colorado, they introduced cultural and culinary traditions that are still alive today. One such culinary delight is the sweet dessert, Potica, especially popular during the holiday season. Stop by Mauro Farms or find your favorite baker and pick-up a loaf of this festive bread for your holiday feast.
‘Tis the Season in Delta County
Cut your own Christmas tree in Colorado. Simply purchase a tree cutting permit from the US Forest Service to harvest your tree. While you’re searching for the perfect tree, take a driving tour of Delta County including a visit to Crawford, Colorado. This hamlet dresses in twinkle lights from corner to corner to celebrate the holidays. Head to the Covered Bridge Ranch in Montrose and decorate your own holiday wreathe. If you’d like to stay over, try Gunnison River Farms for a relaxing holiday get away.
Gold Camp Christmas in Victor & Cripple Creek
Colorado’s mining heritage runs deep. Sample some of that history at the Gold Camp Christmas Holiday Headframe Lighting. Grab the family, load up the car and take a self-guided tour of the decorated mine head-frames (the above-ground structure of the shaft). If you’re looking for hand-made gifts from local crafters, stop by the Elf Emporium.