Staying active indoors and out on short winter days


With winter solstice behind us, it’s true that our daily ration of sunlight has begun to increase. But that’s cold comfort for those of us who begin and end our workdays in the dark. The instinct to wrap up in our snuggies and nest is strong, especially when Boulder experiences a cold snap like the one that recently froze the Front Range. However, equally as strong is our need to stay active. Our sun-soaked city is spoiled for most of the year, but there are plenty of options — both indoors and out — that can keep our heart rates up and bodies moving in the brief span of winter darkness.


When we are lucky to have snow on the ground, the ephemeral and informal cross-country ski track at North Boulder Park emerges like the phantom city of Brigadoon. Bring your skis, your dog and your headlamp for a great foothills-style cardio workout. Skiers of all levels will be in the mix and it’s free. For a peaceful evening snowshoe or trail run (depending on the snow levels), the Sage Trail off of Longhorn Road (about a mile north of the intersection of Highway 36 and Broadway, off of Highway 36) is a beautiful threemile loop that can make you forget you are minutes away from a bustling city. Parking at the trailhead is available until 11 p.m. Likewise, the hilly trails around Wonderland Lake offer stunning views of Boulder’s city lights as well the Flatirons.

Sanitas Valley Trail (or the trek to the summit of Sanitas if you’re feeling burly) is another classic for snowy nights. And for those in South Boulder, Marshall Mesa and Dowdy Draw are both dog-friendly trails that showcase the splendor of the foothills. Visit on a full moon and marvel at the snowy mountains in the pale blue light.

For those who like to run yearround, it’s worth nothing that even at zero degrees, as long as you are bundled up with non-cotton base layers and keep a good pace, it’s easier to stay warm than you may realize. Investing in a pair of stabilizers for your shoes, such as Yak-Trax or instep crampons, will give you superb winter traction — and no excuses for staying inside. The sideroads west of Broadway are good running options if you want to stay in welllit areas, just remember to wear reflective gear and/or lights to be seen.

Playing in the outdoors doesn’t always have to be about pure fitness. The inner tube that floated you down Boulder Creek in the summer can do double-duty as an improvised sled when you join the fun at Scott Carpenter Park, a mecca for good old-fashioned sledding. The modest hill comes alive with kids of all ages and is especially fun in early evening. While sledding/ snowboarding/skiing is forbidden in most of Boulder’s open space parks, there are fun and legal places to play, mostly at public schools. Check out html#Boulder for lists of nearby sledding opportunities or to add your own destination.

One more fun after-dark suggestion: Why not invest in some glow-in-the-dark frisbees and enjoy disc golf in the snow? You can use snowmen for goal markers.


Boulder’s active community just can’t sit still, so when winter comes, it’s time to take all our favorite sports indoors. It’s a testament to our style that we have three distinct climbing gyms in town, but no full-time public bowling alley. In regards to those climbing gyms, all three are fantastic places to pull-down after work. The Boulder Rock Club represents the classic style of our climbing community and features big walls and bouldering options. The Spot focuses more on bouldering and fitness and hosts several competitions each year. Movement is the newcomer in Boulder rock gyms and is worth checking out for its modern look, big walls and spacious arena.

If you want to escape Boulder for a night and check out climbing beyond the bubble, Thornton’s Rock’N Jam’N is a nice option that’s just down the road.

Cyclists will likely seek out spin classes at any of the myriad of gyms in town, but for actual biking on actual bikes, Boulder Indoor Cycling is the place to be. Besides the full-sized velodrome banked track (an absolute blast if you haven’t tried it), the new mountain bike skills area is ready to roll this winter as well. Staying with the indoor theme, soccer players will want to check out Boulder Indoor Soccer, a fully dedicated facility that offers year-round opportunities to play.

Finally, one of coolest places to check out is The Sports Oasis (also known as “The Island”) indoor sand volleyball park. An unassuming warehouse building in Broomfield (an easy 10-minute drive from South Boulder) hosts seven full-sized sand volleyball courts and boasts a friendly, full-service bar and grill. Drop-in games go late into the night, and there are league and team options as well. Friday nights are especially lively and a great alternative for those wanting to avoid the sedentary bar scene.

There’s no shortage of fun, active things to do after dark in Boulder, even on weekdays. While it may be a bit harder to motivate in the chilly winter months, staying active helps keep your mind and body in balance — and keeps you from putting on a little extra winter insulation. When the sun goes down after your 9-5, don’t overlook all the fun, indoors and out, waiting in Boulder.

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