The Rockies are alluring. There is so much magic in the falling snow, snow dusted evergreens, brilliant blue skies and majestic mountains. After an idyllic winter vacation, many people wisely choose to make the mountains their home. The first full winter in the mountains can be eye-opening. There may be unexpected challenges, but with a little preparation the fun and beauty of a snow season in the Rockies far outweighs any challenges. Here are a few tips for surviving your first snow season in the mountains.
If you live close enough to the ski resort, travel won’t be a problem for you. Just grab your skis and go. However, if you need to travel any distance, you will want to be prepared. Keep your car stocked with winter emergency supplies including a small shovel, blanket, candle, energy bars, and kitty liter or even gravel. It is wise to keep a pair of boots in the car if you don’t typically wear them when you drive. Make sure you have good tires. Outdoor Magazine points out that snow tires are even better for safely driving in winter than all wheel drive. If you are planning to go out and about in the snow, remember to take it slow. There is no hurry and you are much more likely to reach your destination safely than if you are too hasty. Last, check out COTrip and sign up for alerts before you travel. You can see road conditions and be aware of any road closures. Colorado works hard to keep roads open so that you can get to your ski destinations. You don’t have to worry about travel very often. Every now and then there is an epic snowfall that can slow things down a bit, but you can look forward to amazing skiing soon after.
Snow can begin to fly in October and continue on through May. This is good news if you are an avid skier. However, the winter can begin to feel long if you don’t take advantage of all of the opportunities available. Enjoy as much skiing or snowboarding as you can. You may want to look into other sports that will help you see winter in a new way. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing can help you relax and allow you to experience the mountains from a quieter perspective.
December through February are often the coldest months. If you need to get out of the cold, Fraser Valley Rec has an amazing aquatics center that includes a swimming pool, sauna, spa and steam room. You can enjoy the heat and relax your muscles. The rec center also offers adult fitness classes, tons of kids programs and even adult art classes. These are great places to meet new people and connect with the community.
In addition, keep your eye out for community events, fundraisers, and volunteer opportunities. The Winter Park Chamber has all the details you’ll need on community events. When you love your mountain town you will connect with others, feel a sense of purpose and ward off any chance of feeling isolated.
Take Care of Your Body
The winters at high altitudes are dry. You will be more comfortable if you drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and a home humidifier will be your new best friend. You should also keep plenty of chap-stick and lotion on hand. The sun is extremely intense at high elevations and snow amplifies the intensity of the sun. It can be easy to forget, but always wear sunscreen on exposed body parts and wear UV blocking goggles or sunglasses.
Stretch before skiing or snowboarding to avoid serious injury. You may even want to consider a ski conditioning class in the preseason, one of my favorite classes the Rec Center offers. Taking care of your body will make every outdoor activity easier and more enjoyable.
Use The Right Equipment
You don’t have to have a lot of fancy equipment, but there are a few items, in addition to your ski gear, that will make being outdoors in the winter more enjoyable. Base layers are key to staying warm. Wicking layers that can comfortably be worn under jeans or your regular clothes will make your day to day routines less chilly. Wool socks are cozy and will keep your boots from rubbing in the wrong places. A good pair of snow boots can prevent falls and keep your feet dry. A down coat or other wind resistant jacket will hold heat in close to your body and a fleece lined hat and a thick pair of gloves will keep your extremities warm. The more comfortable you feel in your outdoor gear the more likely you are to get out and about even when temperatures dip.
Take a Break
Temperatures in the Denver and Colorado Springs often reach into the 60s even in the winter. If you are feeling tired of chilly weather, take an easy day trip to the city. You can enjoy shopping, museums, and fine dining and then head back to the mountains feeling refreshed.
Saying Goodbye to Winter
Just about everyone who lives in the mountains has a winter activity they love. If you delve into your favorite activity, enjoy sunny days outside, get involved with your community and take care of yourself, you will find yourself sad to see the last snow melting.