<<< guest post by Kim Warren >>>
Winter Park, Colorado is an hour and a half northwest of Denver and one of my family’s favorite vacation destinations. There are so many activities to do all year round, there is no reason to wait until ski season to visit.
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Winter Park Resort
The resort’s summer activities are open from mid June to the end of September. They have Colorado’s longest alpine slide, a mini putting course, bounce house, bungee trampoline, rock climbing wall, and a human maze. You can take the chair lifts up the mountain for scenic rides of the area and hike your way back down. Not up for a hike? Just ride the lift to the bottom. Enjoy mountain biking? Winter Park has you covered. The resort has a variety of trails depending on your skill level. Before you head to the resort, check out their summer activity tickets. You can save money by buying passes in advanced online or by calling their ticket office. Check out their activity schedule for a listing of their free outdoor entertainment too. On Friday evenings they have free live music and family movies.
The Winter Park area has hundreds of miles of trails, many of them well marked. You can find trail maps on the Winter Park Chamber website. One of our favorite trails to hike with the kids is Twin Bridges. Obviously, the trail has bridges, but it also has easy access to the creek. Our kids could spend hours throwing rocks into any body of water. Keep in mind that Winter Park is a very popular destination for mountain bikers. I have always found them to be courteous to hikers along the trails, just keep an ear out for them. My youngest likes to run ahead of us. I grabbed her once to get her out of the way of a bike coming around a bend.
There are many companies that offer whitewater rafting tours on the Colorado River. We chose Red Tail Rafting and would definitely book with them again. For children, I would recommend the half day trip, it still takes the better part of a day. Children must be at least 4 years old to go whitewater rafting. One of the great things about Red Tail Rafting, is that they transport you from their location to the river. They are located in Fraser, one mile from downtown Winter Park. They also provide food during a stop at one of the area camp sites. The staff is great with kids and play water games with them to keep them entertained throughout the trip.
My husband likes thrills, while I mostly prefer for my feet to be firmly planted on the ground, but for some reason I pointed out a sign for zip lining. Next thing I knew we were booked on a 2 hour zip lining tour at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. The zip line tour is family friendly and there were a few kids in our group. Children must be at least 75 pounds ride. I can’t say enough about the zip line staff. They were very friendly and made sure everyone had a great time.
I may have been a little apprehensive about the whole thing, but wound up having an awesome time. I loved the mountain views from the tree tops. There are five zip lines in total and they start out small and progress to longer and faster as you go. At the end of the last zip line, you are given the beverage of your choice (water, Gatorade, beer). After overcoming my fear of zip lining, I felt a celebratory beer was in order!
Day Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park
The west side of Rocky Mountain National Park is about 45 minutes north of Winter Park, making it a perfect day trip. Start your day off with a heavy breakfast, pack a cooler of food and drinks, grab your hiking bag and hit the road. The west side of Rocky Mountain is known for its meadows and wildlife. It has a number of trails that are great for children.
I recommend the Coyote Valley, Lake Irene (perfect place for a picnic) and Holzwarth Historic Site trails. Before entering the park, stop at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center. The staff is very friendly and will give you a trail map of the area. Also, ask them for Junior Ranger books. They have different books based on age. The books are free, and when the activities are completed, children are sworn in as Junior Rangers and receive an official Rocky Mountain Junior Ranger badge. My kids loved the activities and earning their badges. I loved that they were learning, writing and counting while exploring the outdoors.
Have you been to Winter Park? What’s your favorite activity there?
Kim works in marketing and communications at a nonprofit organization. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children. Kim and her husband have always loved to travel and share their travel advice with anyone who will listen. Once kids came into their lives they wanted to continue to travel and have been figuring out how to adapt as they go. You can read about their adventures on kidsandcarryons.com