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North Park: Your Spring Break Destination

North Park: Your Spring Break Destination

This time of year it can be hard to believe that Spring Break is just around the corner.  It doesn’t feel that long since we were still writing last year’s date on everything! But now that cabin fever has it’s tight grip on most of us, late February is the time when we start looking for the best spring destinations in Colorado.

While beaches and desert locations begin to fill up and bookings for hotels and rentals double in places for sun lovers, Colorado still has plenty to offer for those who still haven’t had their fill of winter activities. Much of Colorado has already begun to turn into a dirty slushball this time of year, but in the northern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, North Park still has much to offer when it comes to getting your winter chill on.

Take the Road Less Traveled

Colorado’s ski resorts are still a popular draw for many road-trippers and outdoor winter recreation lovers. This time of year is still peak season (pun not intended) for Colorado tourism—especially skiing. From Winter Park to Steamboat, Silverthorne to Vail, the I-70 corridor still has some of the best skiing in Colorado, if not the whole country. These hotspots can get overloaded with traffic as people are trying to use their IKON Pass or Epic Pass before the end of the season.

A Jumping-Off Point for Skiers and Much More

Though North Park doesn’t have a ski resort of its own, Walden, CO is centrally located in the mountains of Colorado well enough to open up all sorts of possibilities.  An hour drive from Walden can take you to Steamboat Springs, CO, Winter Park, and even Snowy Range in Wyoming (with a few extra miles added on). 

The sleepy community of Walden, CO gets you within striking distance of several different mountain resorts with less traffic congestion, cheaper hotel accommodations, and incredible scenery on the drive that will make the miles pass by with ease. Booking a place to stay in Walden for a week will open up your options when it comes to carving turns on several different slopes.

Cross-Country Skiing, Backcountry Skiing, and Snowshoeing

The groomed trails and backcountry skiing of Gould can take you to some of the most extensive trail systems in the state.  Gould’s nordic ski trail system not only connects with the Colorado State Forest State Park trail system, but also the Grand County trail system which gives spectacular views of Rocky Mountain National Park’s west entrance. Click here to learn more about cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in North Park.

Hot Springs Near North Park

For some of us there is no better experience than soaking in a natural hot spring and watching snowflakes fall all around you.  Though North Park does not have any hot springs accessible by the public, it is still a great central location for several incredible hot springs in the area.  The mountains of northern Colorado are an active geothermic area with hot springs that have been used by visitors for thousands of years.

Steamboat Springs, CO

Steamboat is known for more than just its high-quality powder ski runs.  The town is named from a now defunct geyser which used to erupt on the banks of the Yampa River near the Steamboat encampment in the last century. Though the spring is gone, many other hot springs have been developed for soakers, such as the Old Town Hot Springs and Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Just an hour drive from Walden over Rabbit Ears pass takes you to either of these places, without the hassle and expense of finding accommodations in the resort town at the height of ski season.

Hot Sulfur Springs, CO

Between Winter Park, CO and Steamboat you will find the little town of Hot Sulfur Springs, CO.  The Hot Sulfur Springs Resort has built up naturally occuring mineral springs heavy in lithium, magnesium, and other trace elements which are said to have therapeutic properties. Finding a place to stay in this area can be expensive, if not impossible, depending on the time of year. With just an hour drive from Walden, you can make Hot Sulfur a road trip destination just over the Continental Divide.

Hobo Hot Pool, Saratoga, WY

North Park sits right on the border between Colorado and Wyoming. Saratoga, WY is around 65 miles from Walden, CO and offers one of the most unique hot springs experiences—the Hobo Hot Pool.  These geothermal springs are accessible year round, 24 hours a day—for free!  The springs can range in temperature, from around 115 degrees to the cooler springs which bubble up in the North Platte River.

*Fun fact: the headwaters of the North Platte River start just a few miles north of the town of Walden.  The North Platte River is considered a Gold Medal Water by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and provides some incredible trout fishing.

Fishing in North Park

Walden is probably best known for its fishing.  Not only do the Gold Metal Waters of the North Platte and Delaney Lakes entice anglers in the summer time, the ice is still thick enough to enjoy several weeks of ice fishing until the spring thaw. Rainbow trout, brown trout, brookies, cutthroat, cutbows, and many others are getting nice and fat on winter forage in the weed beds of North Park’s lakes.

In the spring, the rivers open up to a whole other experience of fly fishing on the Michigan, Illinois, and North Platte rivers. North Park has hundreds of creeks that feed into larger lakes and rivers, as well as trophy-worthy specimens of trout that inhabit these waters. North Park Anglers in Walden, CO is a great place to stop and visit with locals about their favorite places to fish, as well as locate a fishing guide if you want the really good spots. Here are just some of the lakes and streams you will want to add to your list of best places to fish.

  • Lake John
  • Michigan Reservoir
  • Ranger Lakes
  • Hidden Lakes
  • Big Creek Lakes
  • Lake Catherine and American Lakes
  • North Platte River
  • Michigan River
  • Illinois River
  • Grizzly Creek
  • Delaney Lakes
     

Snowmobiling in North Park

As much of the rest of the state begins the thaw, North Park still has plenty of time left when it comes to busting out the snowmobiles and riding some trails.  Just half an hour outside of Walden, you’ll find Rabbit Ears Pass, which is considered one of the top snowmobiling destinations in the USA. Going north, you can reach Snowy Range, which has hundreds of square miles of remote snowmobiling trails and terrain.

Xtreme Mountain Racing still has a few weekends lined up to race vintage snowmobiles on Walden Reservoir, just outside of Walden, CO.  Be sure to book your accommodations in advance as the vintage snowmobile race weekends tend to sell out rooms for the event. If you are less of a spectator and more of a participant, North Park has hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands, from the State Forest State Park to BLM to Routt and Arapaho National Forest to enjoy on your snowmobiles, ATVs, and other OHVs.

False Springs in the Colorado High Country

Though North Park sits in a high mountain desert valley, surrounded on all sides by the Never Summer Mountains, Medicine Bow Range, and Park Range, it can be a good late winter/early spring destination because of the false springs that tend to fall in late February and early March. These warming trends can mean clear roads and blue skies for weeks, while the Front Range and intermountain areas of Colorado are getting plastered with winter weather conditions.  

Always be sure to check road conditions and weather forecasts.  The old saying is as true for North Park as it is the rest of Colorado: if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.  The altitude and surrounding mountains can create some serious weather changes you’ll want to be prepared for.

North Park Restaurants Near Me

 

  • Rita’s Cafe: Breakfast and Lunch served 5 days per week.  Check out the review here! It’s also one of the best places to get coffee in Walden, CO.
  • River Rock in Walden, CO : A sit down restaurant with hot drinks, food, and adult beverages for after a long day on the trails.
  • Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant in Gould, CO: If you are visiting trails in Gould, Cameron Pass, State Forest State Park, or Owl Mountain, the Howling Coyote Mexican Restaurant is close to you.  Serving up a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the winter, it’s a must-see place to stop to fill your stomach.
  • Rand Yacht Club in Rand, CO: On HWY 125 in Rand, CO, you’ll find the historic Rand Yacht Club on the road towards Granby, CO from Walden.  Call (303) 909-2719 for hours of operation and to see what specials are on the menu.
  • The 10th Frame in Walden, CO: Open Tuesday-Saturday, take a break from riding and enjoy a burger, hot sandwiches, or any number of daily specials. It’s also got bowling and a full bar. A local favorite!
  • The Stockman Bar and Grill in Walden, CO: A local bar and grill featuring an original antique bar from the frontier days, local character, and plenty of good times.
  • Four Winds Pizza in Walden, CO: Pizza, ice cream, and antiques.  Call (970) 723-8668 for current seasonal hours.

 

Best Places to Stay in North Park and Walden, CO

If you want to enjoy trails over several days in the warmth and comfort of a hotel or vacation rental, book your lodging in a hotel, VRBO or AirBnB property in Walden, CO.

Here are the best hotels in Walden, CO and places to stay in North Park:

 

The Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Destination You’ve Been Searching For

Just about any time of year, there is something incredible to see and do in North Park. Wildlife viewing, scenic byways, and a low concentration of people make for a perfect combination of open spaces and quiet comfort to get away from it all. Spring Break is just one of many times of year you can use the excuse to experience some of the most untouched territory in the Colorado mountains. Come See Us in North Park!

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