Photo of two students building a snowman outside on campus.

Whether you want to enjoy more time outside or shield yourself from the cold, there is something for everyone to do in and around Boulder this winter. Here are five ideas to get you started.

Take advantage of Denver Free Days

Each year, Denver’s cultural centers, museums and other attractions open their doors to the public for free admission during Denver Free Days. Here are a few free days to take advantage of this winter.

Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo is home to over three thousand wild animals that serve as ambassadors for their counterparts around the world.

Please note: Tickets are available by lottery only. Walk-ins are not available at this time.

Free days include:

  • Saturday, Jan. 22
    (lottery available: Jan. 10 - Jan. 14)
  • Sunday, Feb. 6
    (lottery available: Jan. 25 - Jan. 29)
  • Sunday, Apr. 10
    (lottery available: Mar. 29 - Apr. 2)

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science features nine permanent exhibits as well as a variety of rotating exhibits throughout the year. 

Free days include:

  • Sunday, Jan. 24
  • Monday, Feb. 8
  • Sunday, Feb. 28

Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum is made up of nine galleries featuring artwork, historic photos, objects and letters from the Clyfford Still Archives. 

Free days include:

  • Thursday, Jan. 20
  • Tuesday, Feb. 15
  • Saturday, Mar. 19

Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum features a number of art galleries and rotating exhibits from around the country and the world.

Free days include:

  • Saturday, Jan. 22
  • Tuesday, Feb. 8
  • Tuesday, Mar. 8

Four Mile Historic Park

Four Mile Park will transport you through Denver’s historic roots with accurate replicas, a working farm and the city’s oldest standing structure. 

Free days include:

  • Saturday, Feb. 12
  • Saturday, Mar. 12

Can’t make it on a free day? 

Don’t worry - free admission passes are available through local libraries, including Broomfield, Denver, Westminster, Jefferson County, Arapahoe County and Douglas County. If you don’t already have a library card, residents with a valid Colorado ID can get one for free, even if you don’t live in a specific city or county.

Enjoy winter hiking or snowshoeing

No ski pass? No problem! There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities that don’t require a season ticket. In fact, many of our favorite hiking trails are open year-round to hikers and snowshoers alike. Here are some resources that can help you get started and plan your next outdoor adventure.

Winter gear rentals

Students can rent a variety of winter gear, including snowshoes, insulated pants and jackets, winter hiking boots, trekking poles and more from the Outdoor Program Equipment Rental Center.

Outdoor trips and courses

The Outdoor Program offers a number of trips and courses throughout the spring semester, including winter backpacking, avalanche preparedness, backcountry cooking and more.

Adventure Resource Center

Stop by the Adventure Resource Center (ARC) to browse guidebooks, print custom maps, get recommendations from knowledgeable staff or purchase complete trip packages.  

Visit Rocky Mountain National Park for free 

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 's birthday, the National Park Services is offering free admission to all National Parks on Tuesday, Jan. 18, including Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes, CO.

Get cozy with a good read

Escape the cold weather by enjoying a good book and cup of cocoa. Here are a few of top recommendations for must-read books this winter.

Biography, memoir

Disability Visibility
by Alice Wong (editor)

One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. This anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents and everyday lives of this community.

Science fiction

The Space Between Worlds
by Micaiah Johnson

An outsider who travels between worlds discovers a secret that threatens her new home and her fragile place in it, in a stunning sci-fi debut that offers a powerful examination of identity, privilege and belonging.


Powder Days
by Heather Hansman

Enjoy an electrifying adventure into the rich history of skiing, and the modern heart of ski-bum culture, from one of America’s leading ski journalists.


Miracle Creek
by Angie Kim

In a small Virginia town, an explosion takes the lives of two people at a special medical treatment center, but who is to blame? More importantly, how far would you go to protect your family or hide their secrets?


Light from Uncommon Stars
by Ryka Aoki

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six, but how might fate bring her a seventh?


One Last Stop
by Casey McQuiston

August, a cynical twenty-three-year-old moves to New York City to prove magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist - the only smart way to go through life is alone. That is, until she spots a gorgeous girl on the train.

Get your copy

CU students can access popular books by checking out CU Library’s Popular Reading Collection or by requesting a copy through the Interlibrary Loan program. Additionally, all current residents with a valid Colorado ID can sign up for a free local library card at any Colorado library. Checkout books in person or download e-books and audiobooks online through Libby.

Check out snow sculptures in the mountains

Head up to Breckenridge for a once in a lifetime experience at their International Snow Sculpture Championships. This world-renowned event will feature 12 teams competing over 96 hours to hand-carve giant blocks of snow in the middle of downtown Breck. Teams will start carving Monday, Jan. 24 and public viewing opens Friday, Jan. 28. Check their site for a full schedule of events and transportation tips.

Giddy up at the National Western Stockshow

The National Western Stockshow is a Denver tradition that also holds the title of being one of the largest agricultural events in the country. This annual event features a variety of activities and entertainment, including rodeos, horse and livestock shows, shopping and performances from around the world. Check their website for a full schedule of events and ticket options. CU students can also use their RTD Bus Pass to ride on the FF1 and N lines to the National Western Complex.