Author: Ian Standard
First thoughts about winter riding in Colorado may bring up the idea of buying a brand new fat bike to float across the deepwinter bike riding snow. Maybe you think of trudging through slush while your breath freezes your eyelids shut, or the need for a thick down parka, wool hats, and gloves. No matter what you think, winter riding in Colorado doesn’t often match expectations.
With low snow levels and moderate temperatures, Colorado Springs is one of the best spots for winter riding. Garden of the Gods adds a backdrop to the luxurious climate that further boosts the appeal of hopping on and biking. Making the best out of the winter months is easily done when you can make a trip towards one of the best parks in the state and country.
Snow lightly blankets the ground around massive, rich, and bright red rock formations that tower above you as you pedal down the trail. The addition of snow in the wintertime makes Garden of the Gods an even more beautiful location to visit when near Colorado Springs.
All of the most popular trails are still perfect choices for going out in the wintertime. Remember that winter riding will often be characterized by trails that may be wet from snowmelt. This requires more reliance on using gravity to your advantage and choosing the right time of day to head out.
The morning might be a bit chillier, but the trails will be less populated, and the frost will firm up the ground, allowing for a smoother ride, not to mention an easier clean-up at the end of the day. Riding in the morning also can up the likelihood of riding solo before the late risers roll into the park.
The trail system in Garden of the Gods is easy to navigate, but taking a guided tour of the park can be one of the best ways to see as much as possible. If you’re on your own, we highly recommend going on the full tour of trails to get the best solo experience.
In general, it’s easy to say that you’ll have fantastic weather the entire time you’re out riding in Garden of the Gods. Sunshine defines Colorado as much as the mountains do, so even on snowy days, it’s likely that you’ll have sunshine to ride on the next day. Garden of the Gods receives around 57 inches of snow every year over its average 29 days of snowfall.
Fifty-seven inches can sound like a lot to anyone from the South, but it becomes a dream when paired with the average winter temps. Snow doesn’t stick around for too long, but you’ll want to get out and see how stunning the park is with a fresh blanket of white.
November: H 52°, L 25°
December: H 46°, L 19°
January: H 45°, L 18°
February: H 46°, L 19°
March: H 51°, L 25°
Keep in mind that these low temperatures occur in the middle of the night, freezing the trails over to make for some of the best riding in the morning. The sun throughout the day will start melting the snow and causing some wet trails that aren’t the most optimal conditions for riding.
Riding in the winter makes many people imagine parkas and thick socks. Still, with temperatures in the upper 40s, it can be a tropical paradise compared to other winter riding locations.
It’s wise to throw on a few additional layers or thermal bottoms to keep yourself warm while moving. The riding in Garden of the Gods isn’t highly demanding, so overheating isn’t too likely. It’s best to utilize a quality layering system, just as if you were going hiking in the winter.
One of the easiest things to forget is sunscreen and sunglasses. The sun is strong here, and the snow makes it even stronger. Be ready to feel the warmth of the sun, but take proper precautions to avoid feeling the burn.
The classic Garden of the Gods features become even more prominent in the winter. Massive red rock formations stagger across the landscape with white at the base and bright blue skies to make the red pop.
Not only will you see loads of gorgeous scenery, but you’ll also see a drastically lower number of park visitors. Winter is still popular, but people aren’t as willing to head out into the cold as they are in the warm summer months. You may have the trail to yourself.
Flora and fauna of the area tend to retreat into hiding for the winter months, but you’re still likely to see deer and other small critters foraging around for what they can find. If you keep to the less-traveled trails, it’s much more possible to see where all the animals have gone.
Although you’re by yourself out in the backwoods of the park, practicing proper trail etiquette is as important in the winter as ever. Wet trail conditions can lead to ruined trails if they’re being ridden too often. Try and avoid thick areas of mud, but don’t resort to riding off-trail to get around them. If needed, walk your bike slowly through the worst parts of the trail.
As always, keep your head up for the unexpected visitor. Garden of the Gods is still a popular spot in the winter, and you might need to share the trail. Bike riding in Garden of the Gods should be on everyone’s winter to-do list, whether a guided tour or a solo trip out, so keep the trail in good condition for everyone who comes after you.