With seemingly countless miles of easily-accessible trails in the region, there is almost no reason to stop you from getting outside – even in winter. Here are 5 tips to get you on the trail this season!
While hiking is an option year round, why not explore winter-specific activities? Getting fitted for skis, boots, snowshoes or fat bikes is the first step to getting on the trail during the winter months. Whether you plan to rent or purchase your own, visiting a shop like 8200 Mountain Sports in South Fork or Kristy Mountain Sports in Alamosa, is a great place to start your winter adventuring journey. If you’re looking to take the kids, plan ahead. A sled or kid carrier are great options to ensure the little ones have fun, too! If you’re planning to bike plowed US Forest Service roads, the Burley Honey Bee bike trailer or SkiPulk’s Fat Bike Pulk are great option for towing little ones. Also, using a cargo box or rooftop ski carrier like the Kuat GRIP will keep your wet, snow-covered skis and boards separate from your dry gear.
Prepare for the elements
Winter weather in Colorado can range from below zero with gusting winds to sunny and 30+ degrees, so it is important to be prepared. Start your day by dressing appropriately and utilizing layers – like Smartwool base layers or a wool sweater, like the Stio’s Rune. Build up from there with a down outer layer, like the Tiago from Colorado-based Big Agnes and a water-resistant pair of pants. And don’t forget to keep your feet warm and comfortable with wool and wool-blend socks, like offerings from Darn Tough.
Know where to go
The Rio Grande National Forest, nearby National Wildlife Refuges and towns throughout the San Luis Valley have a plethora of winter trails. The San Juan Nordic Club is a local cross-country skiing group that regularly grooms trails around the valley and can provide trail condition information. If you prefer more established locations, consider cross-country skiing Wolf Creek Ski Area nordic trails, snowshoeing the town trails around Del Norte or fat biking National Forest roads.
Monitor your progress
Keep your first out low-key; visit a trail with limited elevation gain to help yourself acquainted with snow travel. But from day one, consider tracking your progress with a smartwatch like the Suunto 3 Fitness. This watch will connect to your smartphone to help you track and monitor your heart rate, elevation gain/loss, mileage and more for each and every outing you take. This will help you monitor your activities and track your progress throughout the season!
Exploring the region in winter can be a lot of fun! Whether you’re looking for a solo adventure on a secluded trail, opportunities to observe wildlife or catch wild trout, or seeking option for the whole family – the San Luis Valley and surrounding mountains have so many options. Find more information by checking out the many resources on our website or pick up a printed copy of the Upper Rio Grande Guide at one of the many San Luis Valley businesses!