Dillon and Silverthorne have unique access
to snow, sunshine,
experiences off the beaten path. Here’s
our guide to get out and explore the area this winter! By Lisa Jhung
Dave Camara/Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Ski at Five World-Class Resorts
Five world-class ski resorts all within a short drive from Exit 205 make Dillon and Silverthorne your perfect home base for winter fun. Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Ski Area, Keystone Resort, Copper Mountain and Breckenridge Ski Resort offer something for every type of skier and snowboarder, from beginners seeking mellow green runs to those looking to charge double-black diamond terrain. And all five resorts take full advantage of their awesome Rocky Mountain locations—with stunning natural beauty and variety amongst their mountain landscapes.
Both Arapahoe Basin (known as “A-Basin” to locals) and Loveland Ski Area span the Continental Divide and are the shortest drives from the Denver Metro Area and Denver International Airport. A-Basin is known for its laidback vibe and iconic steeps, and has the longest ski season in Colorado. Loveland stakes claim to the biggest accumulation of snow of all area resorts most years, and offers free snowcat skiing.
Copper Mountain and Keystone Resort pride themselves on family-friendliness and inclusive nature, no matter the level of skier/rider. Copper features naturally divided terrain, with beginner slopes on the west side of the mountain, to the most difficult on the east. And Keystone’s “Kidtopia” hub and activities (like daily scavenger hunts) feature the world’s largest snow fort among its family fun.
Breckenridge Ski Resort boasts four world-class terrain parks, a super pipe, and expansive terrain among its five massive peaks.
Ski Them All!
Miles from Exit205: 13
Skiable Area (acres): 960
Number of Trails: 109
Number of Lifts: 8
Base/Peak Elevation (Feet): 10,780/13,050
Miles from Exit 205: 14
Skiable Area (acres): 2,908
Number of Trails: 187
Number of Lifts: 34
Base/Peak Elevation (Feet): 9,600/12,998
Miles from Exit 205: 12
Skiable Area (acres): 2,465
Number of Trails: 140
Number of Lifts: 23
Base/Peak Elevation (Feet): 9,703/12,313
Miles from Exit 205: 7
Skiable Area(acres): 3,087
Number of Trails 127
Number of Lifts: 20
Base/Peak Elevation (Feet): 9,280/12,408
Miles from Exit 205: 12
Skiable Area (acres): 1,800
Number of Trails: 93
Number of Lifts: 10
Base/Peak Elevation (Feet): 10,800/13,010
Bring your ice skates to North Pond Park this winter. Enjoy the scenery and stay cozy with a heated warming hut.
Ice Skate at North Pond Park
Take to the ice in the stunning natural environment that is North Pond Park. From December through February, the pond is plowed and maintained by Silverthorne’s Public Works Department, and locals bring their own skates—and sometimes hockey sticks—to skate beneath the surrounding peaks from dawn to dusk. A heated warming hut, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., serves as a great place to take breaks, and is ideal for family or friends to watch the skating fun.
North Pond Park hosts events from a Twilight Skate to an international pond hockey tournament that draws hundreds of participants each winter. “You see people who are really good at it, and others who are just having fun,” says Daryl Roepke, a Silverthorne resident who volunteers with the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. “It’s a fun experience.”
Pack your own skates to hit the pond, and take advantage of this free, family-friendly activity.
Fly by Kite
If you’ve ever driven by the Dillon Reservoir in the winter, no doubt you’ve seen them: dozens of colorful kites with skiers or snowboarders attached to them via harness, flying around and doing tricks. Snowkiting is similar to water kiting or kitesurfing, but it’s done on snow, which is a lot more predictable, and easier to learn on than ever-changing water. Colorado KiteForce lets anyone experience the exhilarating feeling of flying on the Dillon Reservoir with lessons from a two-hour “Ground School,” to a four-hour package on ground and on skis/snowboards, to advanced lessons and gear rentals. You’ll learn how to control a small kite in the wind, and soon be zipping around the reservoir on your skis or snowboard.
“You can just blaze and go cruising around the whole lake in the peacefulness and silence of knowing that you’re making this happen,” says Colorado Kiteforce owner Anton Rainold. “It’s not gravity, it’s not a chairlift, and it’s not a ticket that you’re buying.” It’s the experience of a lifetime.
Take in Snowplay
For one week out of the year, the professional snow sculptors of Team Sandtastic out of Sarasota, Florida, arrive in Dillon and get to work with the snow. The results are wildly impressive—massive sculptures and interactive features all made out of Colorado snow. The artists transform Dillon’s Marina Park into part museum, part playground. The interactive features, like tunnels and slides, are meant for kids under 12 and their families, but visitors of any age enjoy the impressive display. Snowplay is free and open to the public for a week, usually around the end of January and beginning of February, but check www.townofdillon.comto confirm dates.
Enjoy the Solitude on Skis or Snowshoes
There’s nothing more peaceful than cross country skiing or snowshoeing, the quiet beauty of a winter broken only by the sound of the snow underfoot, the rhythm of your own breathing … and your heart pumping! Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are great for getting a killer workout and provide the opportunity to get outside and connect with nature. Dillon and Silverthorne offer some of the best winter playgrounds you’ll find anywhere.
Popular summer hiking trails serve as great terrain for winter exploration. Says Silverthorne local Suzanne Reed: “A couple of miles away, there’s a bazillion people at a ski area. But if you want the solitude and beauty of the forest in the winter, Silverthorne has that for you.” Popular trails for winter exploration include Tenderfoot Mountain Trail and Oro Grande Trail, both accessed from the Tenderfoot Mountain Trailhead right in Dillon.
The newly opened Dillon REI rents adult and youth snowshoes and metal-edged cross country skis. It also offers classes throughout the year on everything from local adventures to education for safe backcountry travel.
Silverthorne has its own Nordic Center at the Raven Golf Course, open from dawn to dusk from December to March. And you’ll find four Nordic Centers in neighboring towns, with marked and groomed trails available for classic and skate skiing. These Nordic centers also have dedicated snowshoe trails winding throughout, and rent both snowshoes and cross country gear. The Frisco Nordic Center features 27 kilometers of ski trails, 20 kilometers of snowshoe trails, Nordic lessons and a cozy cabin for home base, and is conveniently located right next to the tubing hill and beginner ski/ride hill at the Frisco Adventure Park. The Breckenridge Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Adventure Center at Breckenridge Ski Resort, the Gold Run Nordic Center (on a golf course in Breckenridge) and the Keystone Nordic Center at Keystone Resort all offer miles of groomed skate and classic tracks, dedicated snowshoe trails, rental gear and lessons.
The Town of Silverthorne also sponsors moonlight snowshoe tours throughout the winter, open to everyone. Having led these tours, Daryl Roepke says, “If you’ve never been out on a night with a full moon, it’s a pretty extraordinary experience.”