A favorite among locals come wintertime, snowmobiling is one Colorado activity that’s hard to beat. Sure to be a rush, snowmobiling is fun for the novice or the expert. Here are five of our favorite spots around the state. Note that you’ll need to pay attention to current snow conditions prior to heading out to any of them.

1. Cottonwood Pass (temporary closures in area)

The state highway connecting Buena Vista and Taylor Park is closed in winter, and the road, which is groomed for snowmobiles, makes a great place to learn to ride. Numerous gentle bowls and side trails line the road. Don’t waste too much time ogling the scenery at the top of Cottonwood Pass, since winter weather can move in quickly at 12,126 feet.

Directions: Take U.S. 24 west to Buena Vista. Turn left on West Main Street and follow the road to its winter closure.

2. Ophir Creek

This trail network in the Wet Mountains, near the famous Bishop Castle, offers 70 miles of trails groomed by the Sangre Snow Runners club. It’s at lower elevation than other areas and best for midwinter.

Directions: Take Colorado Highway 115 to Florence and follow Colorado Highway 67 south and west to Colorado Highway 165. Head south and turn right on Forest Service Road 360.

3. Vail Pass

The possibilities are virtually limitless for snowmobiling in the Vail Pass Recreation Area. Skiers and snowboarders flock to this area, many with snowmobiles, for its legendary powder.

Directions: Take Interstate 70 west and park at the top of Vail Pass. The parking lot often fills on weekends, and there is a $6-per-person fee.

4. Marshall Pass

South of Salida, snowmobilers can ride 12 miles from the winter road closure on Marshall Pass Road to the Continental Divide at 11,000 feet, stopping to enjoy the numerous open snow-play areas on the way.

This was originally a railroad route through the southern Rockies to Gunnison, so the road is mostly gentle.

Directions: From Ca?n City, take U.S. 50 west to Poncha Springs and head south on U.S. 285. Turn right on Marshall Pass Road.

5. Grand Lake

The unofficial snowmobiling capital of Colorado offers hundreds of miles of groomed trails in the shadow of Rocky Mountain National Park (and through a small sliver of the park). Numerous rental shops are here, including some that will allow riders to take unguided trips.

Directions: Take Interstate 70 to U.S. 40. Go over Berthoud Pass and, in Granby, head north on U.S. 34 to Grand Lake.

Stop at a local shop or the U.S. Forest Service office in Granby to pick up a map of trails.

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