by Shannon Daly
It’s that time of year again when winter rears it’s ugly head and makes it’s frigid presence known. Our household is decidedly divided into two factions; The warm weather parent, me, and the ‘crazy cold weather parent’, Paul. Once the thermometer drops below 50, any outside family activities are initiated, directed and supervised by the hubby. Despite being a fifth generation Native, I’ve never truly acclimated to the cold weather we get in Colorado. As a kid I used to ski and snowboard, and I’ve done my fair share of sledding on the hills on the west side of town, but if I had my druthers, I would have spent those hours on a beach or at a pool. I had always hoped that I would develop a desire to participate in winter activities once I had kids, but it turns out, twelve years later, that this just isn’t in the cards. My friend Peter, (who is from Denmark,) always says, “There is no bad weather…just bad clothing.” Well that’s crap. When it’s negative degrees out, and my snow pants are virtually frozen to my legs, and my turtle fur that is wrapped around my mouth is freezing to my lips because I’m breathing warm air out, and cold air in, THAT is bad weather. But it turns out some people, (like my crazy husband AND my friend, Peter,) LIKE this kind of weather. What what? So, given the fact that winter is going to be with us for the next couple months, I thought I’d throw out some winter activity ideas for you crazy cold weather enthusiasts.
Naturally the first cold weather activity that comes to mind is sledding on the hill at Central Park. I’ve seen this place get CRAZY when we get enough snow to make sledding possible, so I know it’s a favorite. If you’re looking for a nearby alternative, there is a very good sledding hill in Lowry behind the Big Bear Ice Rink at the Lowry Sports Park complex on 8400 E. Lowry Blvd. 80230. This hill is very steep, and has plenty of surface area to accommodate lots of eager sledders. If your kids want to sled, but you have had too many memories of sledding ‘spills’ to consider joining them, you can bundle up and take a brisk walk around the pond that this hill shields directly to the south of it. This is a very popular walking spot year round. If you want to stick closer to ‘the hood,’ don’t forget about the fabulous Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge located just to the North of us at 6550 Gateway Road Commerce City, CO 80022. This complex offers a visitor’s center, many hiking/walking trails, and a host of different activities they sponsor throughout the season. If you are someone like me who prefers to appreciate winter from the warmth of a building or car, you can also take a 9 mile car tour at RMANWR and look for wildlife. You can find out more at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/rocky_mountain_arsenal/. On a smaller scale, there is also the Bluff Lake Nature Center located just north of Martin Luther King on Havana which includes many trails you can choose to explore. The next time we get a batch of snow, try renting some snow shoes, and traversing the terrain with them. If you are thinking about giving your ankles a workout, there are a couple different outdoor ice rinks, although they aren’t very close by. First off there is the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park at 16th and Arapahoe. This is located just under the clock tower at 16th and Arapahoe and is FREE! If you don’t have your own skates, you can rent them there for $2. You can find out more about hours and availability at www.downtowndenver.com. If you are interested in getting out to the burbs, you can head west to BelMar, the outdoor mall at Wadsworth and Alameda, or head south to the Southlands off of E470 and Smoky Hill. Both of these facilities charge an admission fee and skate rental, but you can find out specifics for hours and costs at https://www.belmarcolorado.com or http://www.shopsouthlands.com/events. My favorite outdoor ice rink is at the Evergreen Lake House. You can get all the details about this ice rink here, http://www.evergreenrecreation.com/Facilities/Evergreen_Lake_House/Hockey_Skating.htm. The admission fee is actually less expensive than the other two outdoor options I mentioned, and CNN has even included it in it’s Top 10 best outdoor ice rinks IN THE WORLD! It’s definitely worth considering a trip up to Evergreen, (about 40 minutes from Stapleton,) and making a day of it. If you decide to go, call me, this is one outdoor winter activity I will actually happily participate in, it’s just that worthwhile.
So, enjoy this cold, blustery season. Dress warmly and frolic, and I’ll be thinking of you as I hunker down indoors, nestling deep into my Denver Broncos fleece with my hot cocoa and slippers. Happy winter to you all!