There’s a reason Winter Park was voted Colorado’s top adventure town. Of course, there’s skiing and other winter activities, but Winter Park is also perfect for an adventurous summer getaway filled with hiking, rafting, biking, and more.
When my daughters were young, we spent many summers in Colorado. A favorite way to enjoy the sunshine and relax after a hike was to sit by a stream and collect rocks. It was a simple act, but one filled with the pleasures of fresh air, relaxing by a stream, time with family, and, of course, occasionally finding a great stone to take home and polish.
Winter Park is perfect for family trips, but also for romantic getaways and solo travelers. I visited Winter Park on a solo trip and was enamored with the friendliness of the people, the amazing food, and how easy it was to get around — either using The Lift city bus or on foot. I utilized the free bus service’s app to keep track of arrivals that took me to all the areas of Winter Park. The buses arrive at regular intervals and deliver you to everything the city has to offer.
Summer temperatures in Winter Park average around 50 to 60 degrees during the day. It’s warm enough to get outdoors and explore, but cool enough to feel like an escape if you live in hot and humid locations. Even though you may start the day with a light jacket, the sun makes it feel even warmer, and you’ll be peeling off layers before long.
Just 66 miles from Denver, a summer playground waits in Winter Park, Colorado. Although winter in the mountains brings skiing and other snow-day activities, summer in the mountains holds its own special beauty. It’s about a 90-minute drive from Denver, or you can take the train for a relaxed journey through the Rocky Mountains. While the Winter Park Express isn’t currently running (plans are to resume in 2022), you can still ride the California Zephyr from Denver to Fraser-Winter Park.
Editor’s Note: the California Zephyr made our list of beautiful, affordable U.S. train journeys.
So dig out your hiking boots and sunglasses and get ready for these 11 incredible things to do in Winter Park during the summer.
Things To Do In Winter Park During Summer
You can go as big as mountain climbing or biking, take it easy and relax near a stream, or spend the day walking and shopping in Winter Park’s downtown area. You’ll find Colorado’s typical laid-back vibe set amidst 3,000 acres of world-class terrain just waiting to be explored in Winter Park.
Discover Mountain Bike Capital USA
Winter Park is nicknamed Mountain Bike Capital USA because of its abundance of bike trails. With 600 miles of trails to explore, rent a bike and choose a trail based on your skill level, take a guided trail tour, or visit one of the two downhill bike parks.
You’ll find Trestle Bike Park at the Winter Park Resort. Rent a bike, then ride the chairlift to discover over 40 miles of trails that lead back down to the resort.
If an easy ride is more in order, take a guided tour, or try one of these beginner bike trails.
Tee Off For Mountain Golfing
If you enjoy a round of golf, the four area courses provide mountain golfing with breathtaking scenery. Choose from four spectacular, award-winning golf courses designed at high altitudes.
Colorado is trout fishing country, and Winter Park’s Grand County is at the heart of the action. There are 1,000 miles of streams and rivers, plus nearly 1,000 acres of high mountain lakes, 11,000 acres of reservoirs, and stocked ponds to fish.
Choose from the Fraser River, Colorado River, lakes and reservoirs, or various creeks and ponds for public fishing, or hire a private guide and fish for brown trout, cutthroat trout, and rainbow trout at Granby Ranch’s private water access.
Pro Tip: Residents and nonresidents age 16 and over must purchase and have in possession a current Colorado State Fishing License.
Take A Hike
Summer, with the wildflowers in bloom, is the perfect time for hiking near Winter Park. Both Winter Park and nearby Fraser Valley offer multiple ways to explore the mountains and valleys with trails of varying lengths and difficulty.
Skip the climbing and take the Fantasy Meadow 3-mile full loop to spend an hour or two on the trails. The minimal elevation makes it an easy hike with gorgeous panoramic views and meadows from an elevation of 10,700 feet.
A more challenging trail that takes you above the tree line is the Byers Peak Trail. You’ll hike 9.1 miles there and back. The trail is rated as difficult.
Find maps and trail info — whether you prefer a wildflower hike, a waterfall hike, or off-the-beaten-path hikes — to pick the best trails suited to your preferred physical exertion level.
Hit The Water For Watersports
Whether you prefer a thrilling whitewater rafting experience or enjoy a leisurely paddle on a kayak or paddle board, you’ll find plenty of options on both the Colorado River and Eagle River. Take a half- or full-day guided whitewater expedition on the Colorado River for mild to moderate whitewater, or take on the bigger rapids at Clear Creek.
Ride A Thrilling Alpine Slide
Located at Winter Park Resort is the longest alpine slide in Colorado. Ride the chairlift to the top, then enjoy a smooth ride down the 3,000 feet of track on an alpine sled. There is a brake, so those who don’t want to go full speed can slow the ride down to a comfortable speed.
Take A Guided E-Bike Tour
If an electric bike is more your speed, take a guided tour on a 5-mile journey from Sunspot Lodge to Lunch Rock with Winter Park Resort. You’ll need intermediate bike skills, but the 600 feet climb is easier on an e-bike. The tour is available from June 27 to September 27, with three tours per day. The cost includes an e-bike, guide service, and gondola access.
Pro Tip: Bring a helmet, backpack, water bottle, sunscreen and sunglasses, a hat, and any snacks you may want while on the tour. (And it’s never too late to buy quality gear; here are our best outdoor gifts from last year.)
Shop Downtown Winter Park
More than 45 unique shops and boutiques are clustered in the walkable downtown area. Find the perfect ski wear, indulge in a salon service, shop for handcrafted furniture, gifts, and souvenirs, then take a break at one of the eclectic restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream shops, wineries and wine bars, or cafes.
Drink Wine On The Mountain
Summers are peak festival season in Winter Park, and you’ll find everything celebrated, from wine to jazz. While many concerts and festivals are on hold right now, plans are in the works to continue the annual wine festival.
Winter Park Uncorked Wine Festival is a day dedicated to wine drinking on a mountain. Sample wine and cheese while taking in the mountain views, take a class, or peruse the vendors selling local and regional art. At the wine seminars, learn how wine is made, how to create a charcuterie board, the best food and wine pairings, and more.
Stock Up On Local Favorites At The Farmer’s Market
I’m not sure if it’s the altitude (I suspect it has something to do with it), but salads and other produce taste so incredibly fresh in Colorado. At the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, you can pick up plenty of locally grown herbs, fruits, and vegetables, but also organic foods and baked goods, wild-harvested foods, cheese, eggs, jams, and meats. There are also unique arts and crafts, wine, and coffee for sale. The market is a great place to stock up on fresh foods and coffee for your condo — perfect snacks for after a brisk hike.
Visit The Only Museum In The Region
The only museum in the area is the Cozens Ranch House and Museum. Located on the banks of the Fraser River, the museum is dedicated to preserving the contemporary life of the late 1800s pioneers. Learn about the arduous journey over Berthoud Pass, view the restored buildings in the ranch complex, and see what it was like when stagecoach travel and pioneer ranching were a way of life.
Pro Tips: You cansign up for a free Winter Park Experience Pass for deals and discounts as well as the insider’s guide to incredible local adventures and experiences. And if you’re visiting in winter but don’t like to ski, read about what to do in Colorado in the winter besides hitting the slopes.