Exploring Aurora, Colorado: Plan Your Ultimate Trip


With over 300 days of sunshine, a vibrant cultural scene, and endless outdoor adventures, Aurora has something for every type of winter traveler.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to plan the perfect winter vacation in Aurora. We’ll explore the best times to see the dazzling Northern Lights, top attractions and activities such as ice fishing, where to stay, travel tips, and itineraries, all tailored specifically for a winter Aurora trip. No need to travel to the Arctic Circle to experience the wonder of a Northern Lights viewing. Grab your warmest parka and join us on a journey through Aurora’s winter wonderland!


  • Aurora enjoys mild winter temps and 300+ days of sun, perfect for winter activities
  • The best Aurora viewing is December-March, use online forecasts to plan sightings
  • Top winter adventures include ice climbing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, and more
  • Stay at winter resorts with amenities like fireplaces, hot tubs, and ski valet
  • Go off the beaten path and enjoy the night sky in RV parks
  • Use winter travel tips like packing layers, booking refundable rates, and getting travel insurance

Aurora Viewing: The Best Time to See the Northern Lights

One of Aurora’s claims to fame is spectacular Aurora light shows glimmering overhead on crisp, clear nights. Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights, occurs when solar particles collide with gases in the atmosphere, producing dancing green and red lights. The shows are weather-dependent and best viewed away from light pollution in the darkest months.

Prime Aurora Viewing Season

The best time to see the aurora borealis near Aurora is December through March, when longer nights offer more opportunity to spot them. November and April also have Aurora activity as well. Brave travelers looking for a Northern Lights adventure have the best chance to take in this magical winter phenomenon on a trip during these peak months.

Consulting the Aurora Forecast

Because Auroras are affected by solar activity, space weather forecasts can provide valuable visibility predictions during your stay. The University of Alaska Fairbanks provides a short-term Aurora forecast indicating visibility on a scale from 0-9. For ideal viewing conditions, look for a forecast of 7 or above for clear skies. Apps like My Aurora Forecast and Northern Lights Notify also offer real-time alerts if the Aurora may be visible during your trip. Using these resources, you’ll know exactly when to grab your camera and head out into the night.

Winter Activities and Adventures in Aurora

Once you tear your eyes from the spectacular northern light displays above, Aurora offers endless winter fun and adventure down below, too. The combination of abundant snowfall, western hospitality, and proximity to the Rockies creates the perfect playground for snow lovers in North America.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Just 30 minutes west of downtown, Winter Park Resort offers prime downhill skiing with over 3,000 acres of trails and 325 inches of annual snowfall. They have terrain for all abilities, lessons for beginners, and high-speed lifts to minimize time waiting in line. Ski rentals and passes can be booked online in advance.

Closer to town, Aurora’s own Powder Keg ski area has shorter runs that are perfect for families. Hit the slopes there during the week and save weekends for the bigger resorts.

Snowmobiling and Ice Climbing

For more extreme adventures, snowmobile tours take you zooming through backcountry powder guided by experienced locals. From beginners’ rides to all-day tour expeditions, snowmobiling is a rush not to miss.

If climbing is more your speed, Ouray Ice Park is world-renowned for its ice walls and offers guided intro climbs even in the dead of winter. Say hello to your new favorite adrenaline-pumping hobby.

Sledding, Ice Skating, and More

Make your own family-friendly Aurora tour with free neighborhood sled hills that offer carefree family fun after fresh snowfalls. Lace up your skates downtown at Southlands open skating pond, or head to one of the many frozen lakes nearby. And don’t miss experiencing Yukigassen, an exciting snowball fight sport originating in Japan.

No matter your interests, Aurora delivers endless winter recreation at your fingertips. Challenge yourself to try something new and make the most of the long winter nights!

Winter Lodging: Resorts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

With boundless winter attractions beckoning, Aurora offers a spectrum of welcoming places to rest your head after snow-packed days. Winter resorts, hotels, motels, lodges, and vacation rentals provide amenities tailored specifically to chillier months.

Winter Resorts

For full-service winter pampering, resorts like Vail Beaver Creek deliver five-star hospitality against a breathtaking alpine backdrop. Their ski valet, outdoor fire pits, and slope-side accommodations epitomize first-class luxury.

Smaller family-run resorts like Nordic Lodge in Grand Lake exude rustic charm with personal service and amenities like nightly bonfires, hot tubs, and country breakfasts. Whether modern luxury or quaint and cozy, resorts can be the best place to spin winter lodging into an integral part of the whole experience.

Winterized Hotels and Vacation Rentals

In downtown Aurora, hotels also undergo winter transformations and provide great home bases to explore the city. The Gaylord Rockies Resort decks its halls with massive holiday light displays and offers seasonal activities like gingerbread house decorating. Further from town, secluded mountain vacation rentals let you hunker down amid snow-blanketed forests.

Wherever you stay, look for winter-specific perks like fireplaces, hot tubs, heated floors, or ski waxing stations. Northern hospitality goes above and beyond to deliver warmth, comfort, and cheer all winter long.

Essential Winter Travel Tips and Recommended Itineraries

Proper preparation prevents poor performance, so winterizing your travel plans is a must in Aurora. Follow these tips and recommended getaways to make your winter vacation smooth and magical.

Gear Up! Handy Winter Travel Tips

  • Pack proper layers and winter accessories – thermal base layers, midweight insulation, waterproof outer shell, gloves, hats, scarves
  • Waterproof, insulated, and traction footwear prevents slipping on ice
  • Book refundable rates in case of snow storms
  • Consider travel insurance and medical evacuation coverage
  • Touch base with all attractions ahead to confirm hours and winter access
  • Travel with sunrise/sunset times to maximize daylight
  • Bring nighttime activities – books, games, Aurora hunting
  • Load up your thermos and pack snacks to stay fueled in the cold

Aurora Winter Travel Itinerary Ideas

Aurora Weekend Escape

  • Fly in Friday and start your Aurora tour at downtown's First Friday art walk
  • Saturday, hit the slopes at Powder Keg Resort
  • Stay at Gaylord Rockies and marvel at holiday lights
  • See Auroras at Night with Northern Lights Tour Co
  • Depart Sunday afternoon

One Week in Winter Wonderland

  • Days 1-3: Ski/ride Winter Park Resort
  • Day 4: Try snowmobiling, ice fishing, or dogsledding
  • Day 5: Relax with spa treatments, hot springs, and resort amenities
  • Days 6-7: Drive the winter scenic byway for small-town charm
  • Depart day 8

Two-Week Colorado Winter Adventure

  • Acclimate in Denver with museum hopping
  • Explore outdoor ice rinks and holiday markets
  • 3 days skiing at Vail or Beaver Creek resort
  • 2 days of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
  • Attend the Yukigassen snowball fighting tournament
  • Overnight at a cozy mountain bed and breakfast
  • Check out Ouray Hot Springs Resort
  • Attempt ice climbing with guides
  • Search for Auroras at Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Return to Denver via winter scenic drives

Whether you have a few days or a few weeks, Aurora serves up endless winter fun. Mix and match activities to build your ideal custom cold-weather itinerary!

Winter Travel Stories and Must-Have Experiences

The magic of winter in Aurora spans generations, and its wonder enchants first-timers, too. From holiday nostalgia to hard-won mountain summits, winter travelers have forged fond memories here for over a century. These can’t-miss experiences capture the spirit of the season.

Lighting Ceremonies Spark Holiday Magic

As night falls on the first Sunday in December, crowds gather in downtown Winter Park. Christmas carols fill the air as the 30-foot tree glows to life with light, kicking off the holiday season. Kids sip hot cocoa and capture falling snowflakes on their tongues, reminding parents of their own childhood delight in the year’s first lighting ceremony. Six weeks of festive downtown activities follow, making holiday magic come alive in a way that would make Santa Claus and the whole North Pole proud.

Northern Lights Checked Off the Bucket List

Watching the Northern Light dance overhead has topped Susan’s bucket list for years. She finally booked a late February solo Aurora trip to maximize sightings. Although the frigid 2 am temperatures initially shocked her, witnessing the glowing green Aurora with her own eyes brought tears. She stood mesmerized for over an hour under the night sky, feeling connected to the energy of the universe. Her dream was fulfilled, and Susan vowed to return to Aurora to recapture the magic.

Annual Guys Ski Week Tradition

College buddies Mark, James, Ryan, and Matt reunite in Aurora every January to relive their annual “guys ski week” tradition. Apres ski parties, slope-side beers, and friendly competition getting down the mountain consume their days. But evenings bring heartfelt conversations that deepen their decades-long bond. Toasting to their enduring friendship, the crew counts the days until their next Aurora trip for a boisterous reunion.

These poignant moments – whether long-held traditions or awe-inspiring firsts –etch memories into the soul. Aurora opens its arms so you, too, can create your own meaningful winter stories. A Northern Lights tour with your best friend, visiting the hot springs for an anniversary, or a solo stroll through a national park will create memories that will never be forgotten.

Winter Travel Safety Tips and Insurance

The allure of snow sports and Aurora displays brings new visitors eager to embrace winter’s wonderland. But cold conditions demand extra preparation and precaution to ensure health and safety, from snowy roads to icy trails.

Winterizing Your Rental Car

Unfamiliar vehicles and roads require heightened defensive driving. Never drive fatigued. Leave ample stopping distance between cars. Brake gently to avoid skidding. Ensure tires have adequate tread depth. Consider adding all-wheel drive or chains for mountain routes.

Avalanche Safety 101

The powdery backcountry summons adventure seekers but carries inherent risks like avalanches. Never venture into avalanche terrain without proper gear – beacon, probe, and shovel. Carry these lifesaving basics even for quick out-and-backs. Sign up for avalanche awareness courses beforehand, too. Stay safe to ski or board another day.

Travel Insurance Protects Your Investment

Trip insurance provides coverage for winter weather cancellations, injuries, or emergencies. Policies with medical evacuation are wise in case you find yourself hurt far from medical care. Review policies closely and ensure winter adventures are covered. The small upfront investment brings peace of mind if you need to use it.

Don’t let fears dampen your winter stoke. Simple preparation makes vacations in snow country exhilarating rather than dangerous. Know before you go and embrace the cold carefree!

Budgeting for a Winter Getaway

Aurora dazzles regardless of budget thanks to an abundance of free adventures, deals if you know where to look, and variable trip lengths to control costs. Follow these saving strategies to keep your winter vacation affordable.

Wallet-Friendly Winter Fun

  • 15+ parks offer free sledding hills
  • Downtown ice skating rinks have free admission and skate rentals
  • Hike through snowy forests and natural areas at no cost
  • Look for resort lift ticket deals on Costco and Liftopia, or buy directly from resorts
  • Split costs by booking a vacation rental with friends or family

Saving on Winter Accommodations

Lodging often proves to be the biggest trip expense, but insider tricks keep costs reasonable.

  • Stay midweek when rates are lower
  • Look a few miles outside popular areas for savings
  • Travel off-peak between mid-January and March
  • Use accommodation points, discounts, or cash back to lower rates
  • Consider all-inclusive resorts to maximize value

Easy Getaway Lengths

Not only when you go but also how long the trip lasts impacts overall spending. Aurora offers perfect vacations whether you only have a weekend or a couple of weeks.

Quick trips keep costs down without sacrificing experience:

  • Long weekend escape
  • 3-5 night midweek vacations
  • Add Aurora as part of a greater Colorado loop

Choose the duration of your trip based on your budget and PTO. With direct flights, stunning landscapes, and 300+ days of sun, Aurora entices travelers to return again and again!

Winter in Aurora Travel FAQ

What is the best way to get to Aurora for winter travel?

Denver International Airport (DEN) offers the most convenient access, just 40 minutes by car or train from Aurora. Colorado Springs Airport (COS) and Eagle County Airport (EGE) also provide regional access.

What type of clothes should I pack for winter in Aurora?

Dress in layers for warmth and versatility. Essentials include base layers, midweight fleece or down, waterproof outer shell, winter boots, hats, gloves, scarves, and goggles.

Is winter driving difficult near Aurora?

Snowy and icy conditions make winter driving more hazardous than normal. Reduce speeds and leave ample stopping distance between cars.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at ReadyColorado.com. My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.