How to Set Up a Tent in the Snow

A winter camping trip brings about a massive list of perks and small adventures. A short, mile-long trek can quickly turn into hours of tromping through deep snow and laughing with each other as you posthole your way to camp. It’s a trip to be remembered, and if you want to remember it fondly, you need to come prepared. 

Your general skills and knowledge will go a long way when you try to get comfortable in a winter wonderland. If you’ve already figured out how to dress for winter hiking, it’s time to continue adding to your toolbox. 

One of the first steps in the entire process is setting up a tent in the snow. It’s a task that becomes drastically different once the snow hits, and you’ll be developing a brand new set of skills than those you need in the summer. 

Site Selection

Once you’ve arrived at camp, it’s time to look around for the best tent site imaginable. The snow brings a lot of new elements you need to navigate to stay safe while asleep at night. In the summer, it’s watching out for bears or other critters, while in the winter, you’re watching for avalanches. 

Pick a site as far as possible from any slopes, and therefore any avalanche potential. Even a lower angle slope can be triggered at night, leaving you to wake up partially or fully buried. A safe winter camp is far away from any possible avalanche terrain. Even if you’re planning on going up the mountain in the morning, basecamp should be a safe distance from any potential slides. 

Another hazard you need to watch out for in the winter is snowfall from trees. If you’re below the treeline, pay even closer attention to what’s above you. Dead trees are less obvious to spot in the winter, and you now need to watch out for trees that may break under the weight of snow and ice. Even the snow sitting on those branches can be dangerous if it’s filled with ice. 

If you’re sleeping in an area with a large amount of snow, you’ll need to consider what’s underneath you. At higher altitudes, you’ll often be sleeping multiple feet above small trees and bushes that have been buried. The plethora of landscapes you can find below the snow can lead to one major issue.

Depending on how the snow has packed down, you may be on top of some voids that are waiting to collapse inward. If this happens while you’re sleeping, you’ll wake up a few feet lower than where you started and probably covered in a decent amount of snow. To avoid this nighttime disturbance, probe around and try to find a spot that seems like it’s above flat ground rather than rocky terrain. 

Pack it Down to Put it Up

Now that you’ve found a spot, it’s time to make the footprint. If you’ve been hiking in snowshoes, you’ve got the best tool for the job strapped onto your feet. Using the snowshoes, stomp around and flatten out the ground where you will soon put the tent. This will help create a more stable, flat surface where you can sleep. 

Expand the footprint out a bit past where the tent will go. This will give you some more stable ground to walk around on. Be careful when you get out of the tent at night for the bathroom, as it’s easy to forget you’re in the snow and will soon be up to your waist in it. 

The snow shouldn’t pack down any further when you start to walk around on it. Remember, this is where you’re sleeping. You don’t want to start sinking while you sleep. 

Once your area is fully packed down, you can set up your tent. 

Tent Setup

In general, a freestanding tent is better than relying on a staking system. With a freestanding design, you don’t need to worry about staking out the tent without access to solid ground to hammer a stake into. Snow can be tricky to work with, but it can also be incredibly useful. If you’re looking to use a tent that requires staking, look at snow tent stakes. 

These stakes are ingenious. First, you dig a small hole and place the stake horizontally in the snow. After you’ve attached your tent line, you will pack the snow down onto the stake firmly to cement it into place. 

The only drawback to this kind of stake is that they can be difficult to remove in the morning. If there has been any level of melting and freezing overnight, they may be inside a solid block of ice that you’ll need an ice ax to get through. 

Set up Your Dream Camp

According to Leave No Trace, snow is the most durable surface you can travel on. This is because it will melt and disappear without a trace of you present. This means that you can do just about anything with your camp in the snow, and you won’t be creating a huge impact. 

With enough snow, time, and shovels, you can create benches, tables, and full-blown snow castles to enjoy your time in. Whatever you can imagine, you can create. This is one of the best things about winter camping. You’re able to create an entire kingdom in the snow without needing to worry about ruining the campsite. It also makes winter camping a fun-filled activity to do with kids. They get to create their winter wonderland, where they can stay overnight. 

Can You Mountain Bike in the Snow?

The appearance of snow on the ground often covers the dirt tracks that we live to ride during the rest of the year. The disappearing trails will move most to put their mountain bikes away for the season and pull out skis or snowboards as a replacement. What many people can often look past is the joy of mountain biking in the snow and how it brings an entirely different level of enjoyment to the sport. 

Winter mountain biking can be challenging for those who struggle with the cold. Many recent trends point towards needing a fat tire bike to go out biking in the snow. Fortunately, you don’t need to make a considerable purchase to go out riding all winter long. With the right precautions and winter biking tips, you can spend beautiful snowy and bluebird days on your bike doing what you love most. 

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Keep a good attitude

First and foremost, keep your spirits high. Of all the winter biking tips you read, keeping a smile on your face and a resilient attitude will be the most important.

Your winter ride will be slower and most likely filled with a fair number of falls and slides that will get you cold and wet. Regardless, this can be the most fun you’ll have all winter if you remember to keep smiling and focus on the positive.

Lower your tire pressure

If you’re feeling strapped for cash or want to try mountain biking in the snow without spending a huge amount of money on a fat tire bike, you can start by letting some air out of your tires. Take a look at the sidewall of your tires and find the lower number on the pressure range, then drain the tires to that level.

You’re going for more surface area and contact between your tires and the ground. One great way to do this is to lower your tire pressure and let the tires sag a bit more, and hug the ground. 

The biggest thing to look out for when flattening your tires is pinch flats. A great way to avoid this easy problem is to go tubeless. Tubeless tires are relatively new, and replacing the tube with a sealant makes getting a flat much harder. Not only is that great for lower tire pressure, it means you’re much less likely to get stranded on a snowy trail in the middle of winter!

Widen your tires

Winter mountain biking may be your next big sport, and you may feel that it’s worth it to invest. In that case, buying a fat tire bike is the best way to truly enjoy the snowy drifts that the winter months have to offer.

The wide tires on these rigs allow for more surface contact between the bike and the snow. That way, you’re able to float on deeper powder and slide less. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll slide around a bit while biking in the snow, but this way, you can control it some more. 

That being said, fat-tire bikes are expensive. They aren’t totally necessary, and you can bike without them. They’re also incredibly fun to ride and shift the experience to a much easier ride. 

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Opt for flat pedals

Clip-in pedals aren’t the best option for cruising on slippery trails. You’re going to do some sliding, which means you’ll need the option of throwing a foot down for stability much more often and faster than normal. With flat pedals, you can get a foot in position quickly and keep yourself upright.

Steel-pin flat pedals allow for the extra grip that is mighty helpful in the slick and icy winter. They’ll give you plenty of traction and the ability to dismount. They also allow for a lot more space, which means the potential for bigger, warmer boots is there. Even riding at your hardest, it’s likely to result in cold extremities if you’re tackling trails in the dead of winter. 

Pay attention to trail conditions

One of the most important parts of riding in the snow is getting to know what you’re riding. True, you can go out and check the trail conditions firsthand, but you may want to save yourself some time and choose the right trail from the start. 

With winter mountain biking being one of the most popular winter activities in Colorado Springs, you’ll be able to find loads of trail information on the web. Mountain biking forums and Facebook groups will certainly have someone on them that has checked out the trail before you have. Use their experience to your advantage and look around before throwing your bike on the car and heading out. 

What you’re looking for is a beautiful snowpack that either allows easier access to the ground or a hard pack of snow. In the middle of winter, you’ll be more likely to find the latter. 

Two to three inches of powder is ideal for biking in the snow. It gives you a nice layer of snow to cruise through but allows some interaction with the ground. As it starts to warm up or the snow gets too soft, you may spend more time picking yourself up than biking. The softer the snow, the more your bike turns into a sled.

Trails that take you on a cruise and slightly hilly rides are much better than those that demand steep climbs and fast, aggressive descents. You’ll find your tires slipping as you push to climb, and the moment you hit an icy patch on the descent will be the end of your riding for the day. Choose a moderate trail that will let you stay on flatter terrain. 

Is It Safe To Hike in the Winter?

Blankets of snow are starting to cover the ground, tucking the world in for a long winter break. Getting out on the trails we have become familiar with over the summer and fall automatically becomes a much more difficult task. Not only are they harder to find, but it can be tremendously difficult to motivate yourself to get out and hike in the winter. There are many steps to getting ready, and the experience is entirely different. 

With the right winter hiking safety tips, you can step outside with the same confidence you take in the summer. A lot of people talk about seasonal depression happening over the winter. Still, the real secret is, getting outside and hiking in the winter is a magical experience that will keep you fit and happy. 

This guide to winter hiking will bring all of the safety tips you need to get up and out with a completely different attitude about winter. 

Photo by Sead Dedić on Unsplash

Winter Hiking Safety

For starters, it’s important to point out that some aspects of winter hiking are the same as going out in the summer. You need to go prepared, check the weather, bring all the proper gear and follow the trail you choose.

While the general ideas are all the same, some specifics make hiking in the winter a completely different game. 

Check the weather

Winter weather is a tricky beast that can sneak up on you anywhere, especially in certain parts of the mountains. You are cautioned against lightning storms and heavy rain in the summer, but the winter brings whiteout snow blizzards that can sometimes last for days. 

Don’t only look at the weather that’s coming, be aware of what the past few days have brought as well. If there was a fresh dump of several feet of snow, it might require taking extra gear or precautions before hiking. A huge snowfall also means increased avalanche risk, so adjustments need to be made to your hiking route. 

When you look ahead at the weather, it can be incredibly tempting to get excited about the first sunny and clear day that winter has brought you after many clouds. What can easily go overlooked here is that clear skies often bring frigid temperatures. Those clouds you hated so much we’re holding the heat in, and now it all has gone. 

So, while the sun can feel like the greatest gift possible, it can also bring some dangerously low temperatures along with it. Don’t forget to pay attention to all the aspects of the weather, not just the little emoticon they paste in by the day of the week. 

Time your hike with the sun

Colorado is chosen by winter lovers all around because of the number of bluebird days it gets. The snow seems to magically appear overnight and leave by the time you wake up, leaving you with fresh snowfall and a bright blue sky to enjoy it under. 

As we get closer and closer to the winter solstice (December 21), the days are getting shorter and shorter. Colorado’s shortest day of the year will see only 9 hours and 21 minutes of sunlight. This is a drastic difference from the longest day of the year, where we see just under 15 hours of daylight every day. 

On top of the fewer hours of sun, the snow can make things a little trickier as well. As the sun sets, there can be an onset of “flat light,” which makes it much more difficult to see the texture of the snow and where there are bumps and grooves, making hiking in the snow a bit more difficult.

Timing your hike with the sun in the winter is incredibly important. Start your hike right when the sun comes up, and make sure you can get off the trail before the sun comes down. It will limit the length of your hikes, especially as you tend to move much slower while trudging through knee-deep snow than you can in the summer. 

Stay hydrated

One of the more challenging winter hiking safety tips to follow is to stay hydrated. No one in the world wants to drink the cold water from the cold water bottle on the exterior of your pack when hiking in the cold. Everything at this point is simply cold, and we’re trying to avoid that.

Well, yes, we’re trying to keep as warm as possible when hiking in the winter. The problem is, you need to stay hydrated to stay warm. Proper hydration allows for your blood to flow around your body smoothly. Your fingers and toes need as much blood as they can get in the wintertime to avoid getting dangerously cold. 

If you’re hiking in the extreme cold, you’ll run the risk of a water bottle freezing while you’re moving. Try wrapping your Nalgene in a wool sock to insulate it. Also, remember to buy an insulating hose cover for your water bladder. Otherwise, the water may freeze in the hose and make drinking is impossible. 

One way to stay hydrated without having to sip on one giant ice cube is to bring a thermos. They may weigh a bit more, but hot liquids will help warm you and make hydrating much more enjoyable. A cup of hot tea on the trail is one of my favorite things about winter hiking. My thermos becomes one of my best friends, going everywhere with me, even into the deepest parts of the winter backcountry. 

Try bringing tea, hot chocolate, spiced chai, or hot cider. The drinks that bring warmth along with calories are a bonus. 

Load up on Snacks

Working through the cold, your body will need to use a significantly higher number of calories to stay warm. That means that hiking in the winter is the greatest excuse this world has ever seen to snack like it’s the last day on earth. Bring all kinds of snacks along with you, especially those you don’t usually let yourself have. 

Calorie-dense snacks that you can eat while you hike are optimal for winter hiking. You can get the 280 calories that a Cosmic Brownie has to offer while on the move. Stopping often means letting your body cool down, especially if you’ve followed the old-time rule of “be bold, start cold.” 

Not only will you feel much colder if you stop more often, but it’s also harder for your muscles to start warming up again after you’ve stopped. That means making your hike even harder on yourself. Eat on the go and forget about whipping up a trailside feast while hiking in the winter. 

Dress the Part

The clothes you choose to wear out are one of the most important parts of winter or any hiking. Knowing what to wear hiking in Colorado is a skill that needs to be mastered all year round but becomes even more important when the cold sets in. 

Utilize the layering system to prepare yourself for the stop-and-go moments of a winter hike. You can throw another layer on quickly when you stop, doing so before you start to feel cold, and take it off right when you start hiking. Layers allow for more controlled temperature regulation while hiking, and that’s an essential aspect of being outside in the winter. 

The main difference in dressing yourself in the winter is that you need to remember to dress your hands and feet. The cold can make your toes and fingers highly susceptible to injury, and wearing the best socks, shoes, and gloves can be a lifesaver. Wool is the winter hiker’s best friend, as it won’t hold sweat and keeps you warmer than most other fabrics. 

Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Winter-Specific Safety Risks

There are some specific risks that you will inherently take by being outside in the winter. This is one of the biggest reasons we highly suggest going on any guided winter hikes before setting out on the trail by yourself. If you’ve never hiked in the winter before or maybe want some more experience at it, these guided hikes are one of the best ways to get the knowledge and skills you need. 

Avalanche Risk

Snow-capped peaks are stunning to see and photograph, but they can also be unforgiving. One of the more dangerous aspects of winter hiking is entering into avalanche terrain without knowing it. Avalanches are widespread in Colorado, and the past couple of years have been considerably more dangerous than others. This is only one of the many reasons everyone who goes out in the winter should be well-versed in avalanche safety. 

If you choose to go without a guide, we highly recommend taking an AIARE (The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Level One course before heading into the mountains. This course teaches you how to identify avalanche terrain, what factors increase the risk of avalanches, and how to stay safe in the backcountry. It also is a great resource to learn how to use avalanche safety gear to save yourself and the partners you hike with. 

One of the best things you can do is check conditions before heading out. Avalanche.org is a fantastic resource that shows you the level of risk in particular areas. The trick here is knowing what you are looking for, which brings us back to taking an avalanche safety course. 

To attempt to provide you with enough information about avalanches to provide the level of safety needed. What I can say is, be careful and stay out of avalanche terrain unless you genuinely know what you are doing. There are plenty of beautiful places to go with little to no risk of avalanches. 

Hypothermia and Frostbite

Cold injuries are much more common than we give them credit for. Hypothermia and frostbite are the most common and most well-known cold injuries, but conditions such as Chilblains can happen more quickly and more often. Chilblains is the inflammation of blood vessels that results in swelling, pain, and itchiness from cold exposure. While it isn’t as “serious” as frostbite, the more our bodies are exposed to the cold and not appropriately treated, the easier it is to get more injuries. 

Hypothermia is any time your body temperature starts to drop below 95 F. There are a couple of sure-fire ways that you can distinguish hypothermia from other issues while in the backcountry. 

The main signs of hypothermia will start with uncontrollable shivering that slowly moves towards slurred speech and lethargic movements. Keep in mind that this only describes mild cases of hypothermia, and when your body continues to get colder, you will experience worsening symptoms. 

Preventing hypothermia and frostbite is all about dressing appropriately, staying dry, and keeping your body fueled with food and water. Learn more about treating and preventing these two common cold injuries by taking a wilderness first aid or first responder course. 

How to Layer for Fall Hiking in Colorado

If you are a big hiker or nature enthusiast, you know that fall is arguably the best season for hiking. The energizing nip of crisp air on your face, the colorful foliage as nature buckles down for winter – personally, it’s my favorite time of year. If you are hoping to enjoy fall hiking here in Colorado, you certainly need to know how to layer for hiking. These tips on proper layering techniques will help ensure you are prepared for the weather you might encounter on a fall hike in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

The Principles of Layering for Colorado’s Fall Weather

The first thing to know is that the term ‘layering’ doesn’t mean just wearing more and more clothes. In order to brave the elements and stay comfortable and safe, you need to wear the proper clothes in the proper order. First, the base layer serves to keep you dry when you sweat. Next, the middle layer is insulating to help retain body heat in Colorado’s colder weather. Finally, the outer layer protects against the harsher conditions you may experience on a fall hike.

We’ll start at the base layer and work our way out, so you understand what fabrics are best for each layer. We’ll also learn how to layer for the specifics of fall weather in Colorado and the hikes you are planning. As you likely know, fall in Colorado can range from warm to very cold. The weather can change quickly, and conditions can worsen with no warning. Especially if you are hiking to a higher elevation, say summiting one of the state’s many fourteeners, you will find temperatures and precipitation requiring a much different outfit than what you had on in the parking lot. It’s important to dress and pack well, as you will learn.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The Wicking Base Layer 

You can think of the base layer as the clothing that touches your skin. This is more than just a t-shirt and shorts or a long-sleeved shirt and long underwear. Remember that the base layer also includes underwear (boxers, briefs, bras, and more) and socks.

The main goal of the base layer is to wick away moisture and keep your skin dry. As you know, sweat cools you down, stealing your body heat much faster than a cold breeze. In the hot summer, you may not mind a cotton shirt absorbing and holding your sweat. In the fall and winter, though, cotton is at the top of the “Absolutely Not” list. Seriously, it’s one of the most important hiking safety tips of all time.

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

The Best Base Layer Materials

The best synthetic fabrics for base layers are polyester and nylon. You likely have these in your closet as your running or exercise clothes. You can go by personal preference, as long as it is ‘moisture-wicking,’ ‘dry-fit,’ or the like. Again, make sure your bras and boxers meet these criteria, too. A great natural fabric, especially for socks, is wool, as it wicks moisture and provides great heat retention. Wool is good for clothing, too, if you are in colder temperatures or hiking Colorado’s many mountains. It will keep you warm without being too heavy, but it also is more expensive than synthetic fabrics.

There are a few different options in terms of the weights of base layers, and you can decide based on the time of year and anticipated weather. No matter what you choose, your base layer should always be moisture-wicking. This layer should also fit snugly against your skin. You don’t want gaps between your skin and the material as it won’t be able to wick sweat away as effectively. A tight but comfortable base layer will keep your skin dry, which in turn will keep you warm and prevent skin irritation, like chafing and blisters.

Base Layering Tips for Colorado’s Fall Weather

Base layers are organized by weight; lightweight or ultra-lightweight for hotter weather and midweight or heavyweight for the colder months. This might mean shorts and a t-shirt in early fall when Colorado temperatures are in the 50s or 60s, and long johns and long-sleeved shirts in late fall when it’ll be in the 30s and 40s on average. Because the weather can change quickly here, especially in the mountains, I prefer to keep my base layer light and carry a heavier middle layer in my day pack.

Remember, the goal of this layer is moisture-wicking, where warmth is the job of the middle layer. That’s why lighter base layers make sense in Colorado’s fall conditions. You can always add more clothes later if the temperature drops up the mountain. The one exception to this is socks. My feet always run cold, so I highly recommend a thick wool sock for fall hikes, ones that cover your ankles! As long as your hiking boots are breathable, your feet will be happily dry and warm.

The Insulating Middle Layer

Next up, it is the job of the middle layer to retain body heat and keep you warm in colder temperatures. Where base layers tend to be stretchy and thin, you’ll recognize your middle layer pieces by their soft and puffy qualities. When shopping, you may see middle layer options listed as ‘soft shells.’ Depending on the weather, you can choose a lighter or heavier option, so it’s a good idea to have multiple middle layer pieces if you are planning on frequent fall hikes in Colorado. 

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

Middle Layer Options for Fall in Colorado

For lighter wear, you might go with a microfleece pullover or hoodie. Fleece is nice because it dries quickly and stays warm. It is also breathable so that you won’t overheat. This is a great option for the early fall in Colorado. However, if it’s windy, you will definitely need an outer shell, or you’ll find the breathability a weakness.

For the colder days, a down jacket is the best middle layer. I am partial to synthetic down, both for the animals and the water resistance. Down insulated jackets don’t hold up well when wet, but they compress better than synthetic down if you need to save space in your pack. If a softshell is all you plan on wearing, I’d recommend one with a hood, so your neck stays warm. In this case, though, you will definitely need to pack a waterproof outer shell, as the fall in Colorado sees rain or snow regularly.

The Defending Outer Layer

Once you’ve got the dry and warm inner layers set, the last part of knowing how to layer for hiking is protecting against the elements. Fall in Colorado can be all over the map in terms of weather conditions, and this outer shell is key for making sure the wind, rain, and snow don’t penetrate and leave you cold and miserable.

Photo by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash

The Best Outer Layers for Colorado’s Fall Season

For both jackets and pants, you will want waterproof outerwear. Trust me when I say that “water-resistant” is not good enough! If you get caught in a downpour, a water-resistant layer is going to soak and leave you shivering. Also, be sure it has a hood. Rain dripping down your neck and back is truly an uncomfortable and dangerous way to spend a hike.

In addition to water- and wind-proof material, your outer layer should also be breathable. These pieces are more expensive, but if you plan on exploring Colorado’s fall hikes, this feature is a must. Breathable jackets, ones with zippers in the armpits and such, are key for longer hikes because they keep you dry while you work hard. If the inner layers are wicking away moisture, but your outer layer isn’t breathable, the moisture will condense against it and soak your middle layer. You need breathability to allow fresh air to move through and clear out the humidity. 

One final feature of a good outer layer is durability. Since this layer has to brave the elements, you want something that will stand up to a bit of a beating, especially for pants that you’ll sit on, trek through the brush, and more. If your outer layer gets torn, you’ll have leaks when it rains. And with the expensive nature of these clothes, you want to make sure to buy something that is a good investment.

Packing for a Fall Hike in the Rockies

Now that you know the options for layering clothes, let’s talk about how to pack for day hiking in Colorado. Seasoned hikers are always carrying day packs, and it’s not just for the granola bars. 

When you start at the trailhead, you might be in your base layer and outer shell. Mid-fall in Colorado is comfortable, and you might reason that it’ll only be a few hours. But as you hike up the mountain, the weather changes. It will get colder and windier the higher you go, with less protection from surrounding trees. You may even get an unexpected shower or snow flurry. 

Before you leave, always check the weather to know what to expect. Then, pack that insulating middle layer anyway. A light fleece or down jacket won’t take up much room or add much weight, and you will be glad you have it when you need it. Wearing appropriate clothing and knowing how to layer for hiking will keep you comfortable and protected during your hike so you can enjoy mother nature, no matter what weather she brings.

What is the Easiest 14er to Hike in Colorado?

Did you know that Colorado has 58 peaks above 14,000’ elevation?

Commonly known as the ‘fourteeners,’ these mountains are popular bucket list items for serious hikers. If you are just getting started on your mountaineering journey, you’ll be glad to know that there are a handful of beginner 14er hikes with lesser mileage and elevation gain.

Best Colorado 14ers for Beginners

Check out this list of routes, and enjoy the beauty of our state’s mountainous terrain!

Pikes Peak

  • Location: Parking available at the Devil’s Playground Trailhead
  • Starting Elevation: 12,932’
  • Summit Elevation: 14,115’
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200’
  • Round Trip Mileage: 5.5 miles
  • Class: 1
  • Standard Route: East Slopes route starts at Devil’s Playground

First on this list is the well-trodden Pikes Peak. This popular destination is a super-accessible twelve miles west of Colorado Springs! The wildflower-adorned trail is used for all sorts of activities including mountain biking and horseback riding. Your pup will be glad to know that dogs are allowed on this trail. 


The trail has loads of picnic spots and observation points along the way, so it’s also great for a leisurely hike that’s not focused on summiting. Pikes Peak is arguably the easiest 14er in Colorado, but if you are looking for a little more help on your first mountaineering trip, be sure to check out our Pikes Peak guided hiking tour.

Handies Peak

  • Location: American Basin parking lot
  • Starting Elevation: 11,619’
  • Summit Elevation: 14,058’
  • Elevation Gain: 2,430’
  • Round Trip Mileage: 5.3 miles
  • Class: 1
  • Standard Route: Western route along the American Basin Trail

Located in the San Juan Mountain Range, Handies Peak is one of the easiest 14ers to hike. There aren’t many options with fewer miles or less elevation gain. Handies Peak isn’t just known for its relative ease, though. The San Juan Range is a beautiful place to spend time, and it is more underrated (aka less busy!) than the Colorado 14ers further north and easier for Denverites to visit.

Closest to Silverton, CO, this trail is accessible for vehicles with four-wheel drive and decent clearance. Otherwise, two-wheel drives are advised to park in the first lot and hike the mile to the trailhead. 

Mount Sherman

  • Location: 9700 4 Mile Creek Rd, Fairplay, CO 80440 
  • Starting Elevation: 12,009’
  • Summit Elevation: 14,035’
  • Elevation Gain: 2,020’
  • Round Trip Mileage: 5.2 miles
  • Class: 2
  • Standard Route: Southwest Ridge along Four Mile Creek Road

Part of the Mosquito Range, Mount Sherman is one of the best fourteeners in the Colorado Springs area. The most commonly traveled Southwest Ridge route is a direct ascent, and views from the top are amazing. You’ll have a gorgeous vista of two of Colorado’s highest peaks, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. 

Other cool sites along the way include mining ruins, mill structures, and prospecting caves. This is an excellent beginner 14er hike for budding mountaineers and amateur geologists alike!

Mount Evans

  • Location: start at Summit Lake Park 
  • Starting Elevation: 12,850’
  • Summit Elevation: 14,265’
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400’
  • Round Trip Mileage: 5.5 miles
  • Class: 2
  • Standard Route: Northwest route, summiting Mount Spalding (13,842’) along the way

The 12th highest summit in the state, Mount Evans is part of the Rockies’ Front Range. Accessible from Idaho Springs, this peak is about a two-hour drive from Colorado Springs. Mount Evans is a very popular destination, in part due to its relatively tame elevation gain. 

This hike has a lot of cool bonuses, namely the beautiful Summit Lake and the population of local mountain goats. There are also a number of other trails you can take to summit Mount Evans, including a short walk from your car because, yes, there is a parking lot at the top.

Mount Bierstadt

  • Location: Parking available at the Bierstadt Trailhead 
  • Starting Elevation: 11,633’ (trail first descends to 11,470’)
  • Summit Elevation: 14,065’
  • Elevation Gain: 2,600’
  • Round Trip Mileage: 7.8 miles
  • Class: 2
  • Standard Route: Western route via the Bierstadt Trail

The western (and slightly smaller) neighbor of Mount Evans, Mount Bierstadt is known as one of the most iconic of the 14ers. Being an hour’s drive from Denver, the hike is quite popular and often crowded. Aim for a visit during the week or off-peak season in order to get a little space to yourself on the trail.

Quandary Peak

  • Location: Quandary Peak Trailhead parking by reservation only 
  • Starting Elevation: 10,930’ 
  • Summit Elevation: 14,265’
  • Elevation Gain: 3,340’
  • Round Trip Mileage: 6.6 miles
  • Class: 1
  • Standard Route: East Ridge route, Quandary Peak Trail

Regarded as the least technical peak, Quandary is one of the most accessible, easiest 14ers in Colorado. The standard East Ridge route is a straight shot to the top where you’ll have outstanding views of Breckenridge and other peaks. 

This peak is part of the Tenmile Range, and one of the more robust elevation gains on this list. Still, it is a Class 1 hike and boasts a short-ish round-trip mileage. That might explain why it is often the most traveled, seeing 50,000 visitors last year! If you’re in the Colorado Springs area, you’ll definitely want to check out Quandary Peak. 

Grays and Torreys Peaks

  • Location: Grays Peak Trail 
  • Starting Elevation: 11,280’
  • Summit Elevation: 14,278’ (Grays) & 14,275’ (Torreys)
  • Elevation Gain: 3,600
  • Round Trip Mileage: 8.6 miles (for both summits)
  • Class: 2
  • Standard Route: Northeast Route forks off to both summits

Grays and Torreys Peaks are decidedly not the easiest on this list. However, they are quite popular and for good reason. First, located in the Front Range, these peaks are just past Mount Evans and around ninety minutes from Denver.

More importantly, the two peaks have a saddle ridge between them, meaning it’s very doable to summit both peaks in one day. It only adds a mile and a half to the hike! If you are new to mountaineering and looking to cross some of Colorado’s 14ers off your list quickly, these make a great two-in-one opportunity.

Other popular beginner 14er hikes in Colorado include Mount Antero (14,275’) in the Sawatch Range and Mount Elbert (14,439’) which is the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains.

With 58 fourteeners in the state, you have a long list to choose from. Be sure to do your research, including double-checking parking reservations, learning the signs of altitude sickness, and planning around weather forecasts. No matter where you choose to hike, these Colorado peaks are sure to provide exciting trails and outstanding views.

How to Pack for a Day Hike in Colorado

The variety of terrain and difficulty found on day hikes requires the skill of adequately packing. 

How to pack for a day hike is a skill that many have been working towards mastering for years and that all hikers need to know the basics of. Before you head out into the backcountry, your pre-trip will always require you to take a look at all of your hiking essentials. 

Day hikes in Colorado Springs can be laid back or some of the more strenuous hikes out there. To take these hikes on safely, you need to pack efficiently and effectively. While optimism and a positive mental attitude should be the first thing you pack, you can’t forget that emergencies do happen. If they happen to you, what’s inside your day pack will often determine how the situation plays out. 

If you’re new to hiking or have never hiked in Colorado before, we recommend booking a hike with a guide. Guided hiking tours will help you feel confident in a new environment and help lower risk while hiking in the mountains.

10 Essentials to pack for a day hike

The Ten Essentials are a great place to start when learning how to pack for a day hike. These were created over 80 years ago and have been modified as our technology and knowledge advance.

To begin, we’ll take a quick look at each of the ten essentials.

1. Navigation

Before you head out, you’ll need to know where you’re going and how to get there.

A map and compass are an excellent pick for navigational aids, but you can up your technology game and bring along any satellite navigation and communication devices. 

2. Sun Protection

The sun will quickly ruin your day hike and potentially lead to more serious problems if you’re unprepared.

If you adequately protect yourself with the proper layers, hats, and sunscreen, you are much less likely to experience heatstroke, dehydration, or any other sun-related illnesses. Even on cloudy days and in the winter, the UV rays can still reach you, so always be prepared!

3. Insulation

If you’re packing for a long day hike or even packing to prepare for potential hazards, extra layers will be key to keeping you safe and comfortable.

The weather flips like a switch in some environments, especially in the mountains. With the proper jackets, hats, and rain shells, you can be ready to take on anything mother nature throws at you. 

4. Illumination

Any day hike can turn into an overnighter if you lose the trail or get turned around unexpectedly (especially if you neglect navigation).

Pack a headlamp or flashlight with spare batteries, so you don’t need to shuffle your way through the dark. 

5. First-Aid

There’s no need for a complicated first aid kid unless you are a professional, but it’s important to have a basic kit ready for any injuries you or other hikers may have.

Remember, not all kits are made for all environments. Buy a basic kit and make changes to it to fit your experience level and the needs of your group. 

6. Fire

Being ready for anything means being prepared to keep yourself warm, cook food, and treat water when in the backcountry.

Fire starting supplies such as waterproof matches, a lighter, or a Ferro rod are great options to help get a fire anywhere. Pick what you are the most comfortable with and pack a spare.

7. Repair kit and tools

Packing a repair kit can seem like overpacking when you’re planning on just going out for the day, but it can be one of the most important things you bring along.

You will find more uses for duct tape and a knife than you ever thought imaginable when you need it out there. 

8. Nutrition

Every day of our lives appears to be driven by, “what meal will we have next?”

When you go out into the backcountry, this question is asked even more frequently as your body works harder than normal to bring you from place to place. Even if you bring out just a few calorie-dense snacks on your day hike, you’ll be grateful. The best practice is to bring at least an extra day’s worth of calories.

9. Hydration

No matter if you’re out in the dead of winter or on one of the guided hiking tours in Colorado Springs during the hottest day of the year, water is always your best friend.

Water keeps you warm in the winter and cools in the summer. Almost every ailment you start experiencing in the backcountry comes with the initial treatment recommendation of “drink some water.” Unsurprisingly, it usually works. 

10. Emergency Shelter

Going out means going out ready for your trip plans to change drastically. In most cases, you’ll never end up spending a night out that was unplanned.

However, if you ever find yourself in that situation, an emergency shelter will be a lifesaver. This can be a small bivy (like a one-person waterproof cocoon) or simply a tarp to protect yourself from the elements. 

More about comfort, less about survival

The Right Pack

The right backpack for day hiking is going to be a complete game-changer when you’re out hiking. A comfortable bag with enough space and support will turn a miserable experience into a walk in the park. For starters, I recommend buying a 30-40 liter pack if you are focused on day hikes.

40-liter packs can be used for short overnight trips but aren’t overkill for just a day. 

Do some research on different packs that give you the back support you need. Certain brands like Osprey will form-fit each pack to your back. This can be helpful, especially if you have a history of back problems. 

Don’t let not having the perfect day hiking pack stop you though! Start with the bag you have and upgrade when you’re ready.

The Right Shoes

Nobody wears flip-flops to the prom, and nobody should wear high heels out on the trail. The right shoes for you will be shoes that are comfortable, sturdy, broken in, and give you good ankle support. After those basics, you can begin looking at the different styles of rubber, traction designs, and waterproof construction.

Wearing the right shoes helps to avoid blisters, which means you won’t need to break into your first aid kit. The more preventative measures you can take to save on supplies will leave you even more prepared for your next day hike. 

How to Pack for a Day Hike

Now that we’ve hit the basics of what you need to pack, it’s important to talk about the process of packing.

The ABCs

The ABCs are a valuable tool for packing a backpack so that it fits comfortably and makes hiking easier. While most people will only use this method with multi-day trips, it’s helpful to consider when you are doing day hikes as well. Like I mentioned earlier, some day hikes in Colorado Springs can push you to your limit. Packing a comfortable bag will take a lot of strain off your back and make these hikes more enjoyable.

Accessibility- When you’re packing, make sure things you’ll need while hiking are packed on top or in an external pocket that you can easily get to. This includes things like rain gear, snacks, and especially a headlamp. Looking for a headlamp without a headlamp can be the most frustrating thing you’ll do all year long. 

Balance- Having a bag that pulls you to one side will end with a cranked back and one leg that takes on a lot more stress throughout the day. The key is to make your pack well-balanced to maximize comfort. The weight should be evenly distributed from side to side, and you want the majority of the weight to be in the bottom third of your bag. 

Compression- Here’s what can save you after packing a long list of essentials to bring on any day hike. Gear that compresses down into a small pouch is the best gear for hiking. After all, you don’t need to buy an 80-liter pack to go out for the day. Invest in a few compression bags to squeeze everything down into a small space. 

Know your Environment

You need to know what kind of a hike you are headed into and what that environment may throw at you. This means looking at the current weather forecast, the weather trends for your location, and reviews of the hike from recent days. 

You can gather information from apps (like AllTrails), with hikers going out onto these trails every day. If one person notices a dried-up river where most hikers rely on water, you wouldn’t know this without their comment. Utilize social platforms to gather as much information as you can before heading out. 

This information will help you greatly when packing your bag. It will tell you if you need extra socks because everything is muddy and wet or if you need to bring a down jacket for when you get up above 11,000 feet of elevation.

If you’re uncertain about reading this information and transferring it into packing, don’t hesitate to reach out for guided trips in Colorado Springs. These are fantastic resources when first learning how to be comfortable in the backcountry. 

Are E-Bikes Worth It?

Electric mountain bikes are taking the trail riding world by storm. These popular bikes provide incredible power and speed and allow longer rides, harder workouts, and greener commutes.

However, the high cost compared to analog bikes has many riders wondering if electric mountain bikes are really worth it.

Here are the pros and cons of electric bikes so you can decide for yourself.

Advantages of e-bikes

For Speed Lovers

The most obvious advantage of an electric mountain bike is the power that doesn’t come from your legs. Unlike analog mountain bikes, e-bikes boost your riding to give you more speed. This can reduce the time it takes to get uphill and increase your speed on the trail. If you are an adrenaline junkie or love trying tricks, this extra speed can be a game-changer. 

Explore New Trails

The other benefit of more speed is that you can go further. With less work for more range, you can enjoy a longer ride to places you couldn’t previously visit. The added power will also help you through tough sections that used to require a dismount. If you want to unlock more trails and explore new territory, an e-bike is a great way to get there.

A Sturdy Ride

The power output of the electric mountain bike is also helpful for stability and capability. With added weight from batteries and more, e-bikes are significantly heavier than standard mountain bikes. This weight is located near the bottom of the bike’s frame, creating a low center of gravity that you’ll love. With added stability, you can enjoy easier and more predictable handling from your bike. This can bring a sense of safety for newer riders, which will give you more confidence to explore and enjoy the ride.

In addition to feeling more comfortable on the bike, you can also expect to be more capable on the trail. There are certain obstacles and maneuvers that not even the best mountain bikers can manage. With an electric mountain bike, though, you can have more power to clear some of those tough technical problems. It still might be hard, but at least an e-bike can keep you on the pedals. On the other hand, the heavier the bike, the tougher sharp turns will be. However, this isn’t necessarily a downside because there are lightweight e-bikes you should check out if you want to stay flexible on the trail.

An Endurance Workout

If you are afraid that you’ll get a worse workout from an electric bike, remember that you’ll go further. Yes, if you were to do the same route and use an e-bike, you would be working out less. But that’s not a fair comparison. With an e-bike, you’ll bike further, climb higher, and go faster. The result is that you will need less strength and more endurance. This provides a different workout, one that you can mix into your current routine. Plus, if you still want that leg burn, you can always minimize the power assist from the e-bike. 

A Better Commute

One of the biggest advantages of e-bikes is how versatile they are. The bike’s assistance can make a ten-mile ride feel like five. This means that the bike commute to work you could never manage is suddenly within reach. If you’ve been looking to ditch your car for errands and local trips, an electric bike is a perfect way to do so.

Not only are they easier to park, but e-bikes take less than a dollar a day to charge. That’s substantially cheaper than gas and better for the planet, too. When you consider the cost of an e-bike, you have to factor in this amazing versatility. It is more expensive than an analog bike but so much cheaper than a car. Using an e-bike for your commute will keep you active and help save the planet.

Potential downsides of e-bikes

You may find that you enjoy the difficulty of mountain biking and the effort required to get uphill. E-bikes are a great way to minimize the uphill effort and get you to the fun parts faster. But if you love that struggle, you may not find electric mountain bikes worth it. 

There is an additional cost to going electric, both because e-bikes are more expensive upfront and because their maintenance is more expensive than analog mountain bikes. More parts mean more opportunity for something to break or get damaged on the trail. You also need to charge the bike, but these costs are very low.

If you think you might use your e-bike for commuting or enjoying longer rides, these costs are definitely worth it. The initial expense will be mitigated by what you will save on gas money, and you will get extra hours of entertainment compared to riding your old mountain bike.

The Best Ways to Test Ride

If you’re not sure if an electric mountain bike is right for you, the best thing to do is try one out in real life. Rentals and tours are great ways to accomplish this. With a day rental, you can explore on your own, visit trails you know and love, and have the opportunity to try an e-bike before you buy one.

For those of you who need a little more guidance, a tour is the perfect way to discover if an electric mountain bike is right for you. An e-bike tour allows you to learn from professionals, get advice on your technique, and build confidence in your riding ability. You’ll understand how e-bikes differ from standard mountain bikes and how to best take advantage of their power. Look no further than Colorado Springs e-bike tours for your chance to check out an e-bike while enjoying the beauty of The Springs!

So, Is It Worth It?

Whether an e-bike is worth the cost depends on your values. If you particularly enjoy the challenge of biking uphill, an e-bike might not appeal to you. For the rest of us, electric mountain bikes are exciting additions to the world of trail riding. E-bikes offer riders more speed, more power, and more adventure. Plus, people looking for an eco-friendly daily commute can certainly enjoy the investment of an e-bike. Check one out for yourself on a tour and experience the thrill of electric mountain biking!

Rock Climbing Safety for Outdoor Climbing

No matter your skill level or knowledge base, rock climbing is an inherently dangerous sport. Yes, risk can be minimized but never eliminated. 

That’s why establishing a base of knowledge and know-how when it comes to outdoor climbing is imperative to help you have the safest outdoor climbing experience possible. 

It is better to be more prepared and well equipped to handle any situation when it comes to outdoor climbing. If you’re new to climbing, the safest way to get outside is to hire a guide or take an instructional course to teach you the ropes.

Photo by Jon Hieb on Unsplash

Dangers of outdoor rock climbing 

What’s more is that most rock climbing accidents and deaths are due to human error of some kind, not a gear failure. That means that most of the dangers involved in outdoor climbing are under our control, and we can do our due diligence to prevent them. 

Things like 

  • knowing how to use your safety gear properly, 
  • learning how to land safely when bouldering,
  • doing your safety checks,
  • being aware of climbing and weather conditions, and
  • climbing within your skill level is somewhat within your control as a climber. 

There are always natural risks, such as falling rocks, sudden weather changes (common in the mountains), or gear failure that can cause severe injury or even death. 

But rock climbers are far more likely to experience a minor injury versus a serious injury in their climbing career. These will be things like scraped knees or elbows from the rock wall or maybe a sprained ankle from landing on the edge of a crash pad. 

Most of these minor injuries tend to be reported by sport climbers, trad climbers, or boulderers. So, if you are venturing into outdoor climbing in pursuit of top-roping, your risk has already decreased because you won’t be lead climbing or bouldering.

Minimize risk when climbing outdoors with these safety tips

Severe injuries and minor injuries can be minimized with the proper knowledge and attention. Here are our top tips to improve your level of outdoor climbing safety. 

1. Climb within your ability level

It is great to get outside and push grades, but this should be done in a controlled manner. It is one thing to go out to the crag and push grades with a group of experienced climbers, and it is something else to jump from lead climbing in a gym to trad climbing a multi-pitch. 

We aren’t saying that you should never challenge yourself when climbing outdoors, but be aware of your physical boundaries and technical knowledge. 

In some cases, you may be strong enough to climb something, but you may lack the technical knowledge (i.e., how to build a trad anchor or clean a sport anchor) to do it safely. To overcome these barriers, enroll in an instructional class on anchor building, climbing technique, or climb with more experienced people. 

You can also hire a personal trainer to help you build up your climbing endurance if you’re preparing for a big climb and want to be physically prepared. 

2. Have the proper safety equipment (and know how to use it!)

You need to know the gear necessary to complete a climb safely when you head outside. This knowledge can be found on online resources like Mountain Project or guidebooks for the area you plan to climb. These resources also provide you with approach information, and if you use online platforms, they may also provide weather updates.

Knowing what you need before you go can save you a lot of time, trouble, and potentially an accident. Just having the safety gear will only get you so far, though. You need to know how to use it too!

If you’ve climbed in a gym before, you likely already know how to wear your harness and tie a few knots. But do you know how to clip draws when sport climbing to avoid back clipping or z-clipping?

Can you build a toprope anchor using your own gear?

Do you know how to place solid gear?

You need to ask yourself these types of questions when you are investing in gear and when you are heading outside to climb. There are several resources to learn how to do these things, such as articles online, videos, books, courses, and friends. 

Simply taking the time to practice these skills under the supervision of someone who already knows the ins and outs of climbing safety will help you feel more confident when climbing outdoors, and it will be much safer when you go on your own. 

Other safety gear to always use outdoors: helmets.

Helmets should ALWAYS be worn by both the climber and belayer.

3. Understand belay systems and knots

A big part of knowing how to use your safety gear is knowing how to belay correctly and tie your knots. On top of that, always do safety checks for your climber and belayer. Even if you are experienced as a climber, a safety check can save your life. We are all human, and humans make mistakes. Double-checking helps us catch those mistakes before it is too late.

Lead belaying and toprope belaying differ, so know how to do both if you plan to climb in both styles. 

There are a few ways to tie into your harness as the climber. The most common way is to use the figure-eight follow-through knot. Know how to tie this knot with proficiency and perform checks on your partner. 

Other knots should be learned and practiced for anchor building, self-rescue, and other climbing skills. 

Knowing how to tie knots is essential. Take the time to learn about anchor systems and how to clean anchors. While sport climbing tends to be less technical than trad climbing, plenty of accidents occur when cleaning anchors due to a lack of knowledge and know-how. 

4. Have experience or climb with someone who does 

If you read the above tips and were thoroughly confused, then the best tip to apply is this one: climb with someone more experienced so they can teach you best practices for outdoor climbing safety. 

You don’t necessarily need to book a guided trip with a professional or enroll in an instructional course if you have a knowledgeable friend. Still, the benefit of booking with a certified climbing guide is that they’re professionally trained. 

They’ve not only done these things themselves, but they’ve gone through classes to learn best practices and how to teach rock climbing safety to people of all skill levels.

In the end, while some risk in rock climbing is left up to nature, a lot of it is up to you. With the proper education, practice, and safety equipment, you can minimize some risks.

Not sure if you’re ready to climb outside on your own yet? Hire a guide!

Best Places to See the Fall Colors in Colorado Springs

The fall transforms Colorado into a gold-rich state once again. The colors of the aspens flow through like liquid gold, rushing in and out quickly, so you need to know exactly where to see fall colors in Colorado. 

It’s time to cozy up and tackle the brisk Autumn air to let your eyes soak up Colorado Springs at one of its finest moments. These trails will take you to some popular, easy-access views and some hard-to-reach, hidden gems in and around Colorado Springs. 

Best places to see the Fall colors in Colorado Springs

Photo by Devonshire on Unsplash

1. Pikes Peak

One of Colorado Springs’ local Fourteeners brings a wide variety of options for those looking to get one of the best fall colors tours Colorado has to offer. At 14,115 feet of elevation, you are looking down on thousands of acres of national forest. The bird’s eye view lets you grab a completely different perspective from walking down on the ground.

It’s a view that everyone should take the time to see in their lifetime and one that everyone can. You can take the easiest route of driving to the top for a short day or hop on the Barr Trail for a 25-mile trek that will genuinely make you work for the views. The most challenging part of Pikes Peak is determining how you want to experience the mountain. 

Another option for the more adventurous is to hop on a bicycle and give your legs a real workout. Don’t worry. There are plenty of places to stop and catch your breath while enjoying the view. 

Check out our newest Cog Up, Bike Down Tour that shuttles you to the top of Pike Peak and turns the bike ride into a downhill cruise. 

2. Pikes Peak Greenway

In the fall, Pikes Peak Greenway gets a little less green and a whole lot more golden. 

Urban trails offer easy access and many options with how far you want to go and for how long. Plus, you can walk down to one of your favorite restaurants while still getting the feeling of an Autumn hike. 

The Pikes Peak Greenway runs through Colorado Springs. It’s mostly paved, sometimes gravelly, and is a well-maintained trail that connects several other local trails. Most bikes and all feet can take you around town to see how the fall colors transform Colorado Springs. 

The Greenway gives you easy access to loads of the local parks in Colorado Springs. This is the perfect choice for a walk around town that can end in a picnic overlooking beautiful fall colors. Stop off at Monument Valley Park, Boddington Park, or America the Beautiful Park for a great spot to sit and spend the day with a thermos full of warm drinks and a bag of delicious goodies. 

3. Cripple Creek

Just outside of Colorado Springs lies Cripple Creek, a small mining town that sits in a nest of aspen groves shining brightly in the fall. 

You can cruise towards town in several ways that allow you to experience the countryside differently. In town, you can hop onto the Cripple Creek and Narrow Gauge Railroad for a slow crawl through the forests you have been looking at from afar. 

Just make sure to get there in time; the railroad only runs until October each year. 

4. Mount Esther Trail

Just northwest of Colorado Springs sits a relatively small mountain dubbed Mount Esther. While the peak is “only” 9,505 feet above sea level, the climb to get there will test your endurance. 

The Mount Esther trail is 4.2 miles round trip. Trust us, it is worth the energy and the short, but steep climb. 

The treasure at the top of the trail is a golden meadow that reflects all of the colors of Colorado’s autumn season. If you push forward just a bit further, you will find yourself at the Crystal Creek Reservoir. Here, the colors are reflected off the glassy waters, bringing even more color to your world. 

5. Gold Camp Road

While there are loads of great drives in the area, some can be a bit more adventurous than others. Not all roads are smoothly paved yet, and those that aren’t let you get to some of the less traveled, more unique spaces of the Pikes Peak Region. 

If you’re equipped with a 4×4 or an AWD vehicle, be sure to check out Gold Camp Road, as it is where to see fall colors in Colorado with a bit of bump and spicy adventure. 

The name does a pretty good job of encompassing what the drive is going to get you. The rugged drive takes you through tunnels and corridors of aspens that puts you amongst some of the brightest fall colors the area has to offer. 

6. Best Fall Colors Tour in Colorado Springs 

If you’re looking to add in a bit of adrenaline to help warm you up on a brisk autumn day, a zipline tour is one of the best ways to see the fall colors of Colorado Springs. This option gives you a unique view that is constantly changing as you fly through the air. 

This zipline tour will engrain the memories of fall colors into your mind in a way that is hard to find doing anything else. 

An 1800 foot zipline gives you the chance to take in sweeping views of the colors while feeling the breeze across your body. A 1500 foot line takes you over a 150-foot deep canyon, really giving you a unique view of the forests below you.

Paintballing Safety Tips

Paintball is a fun and exciting team sport. It requires strategy and cooperation, and it certainly gets players physically active. However, it can also be dangerous, and that’s why it’s important to learn and follow basic safety rules. In this guide, we’ll go over the key paintball safety tips you need to know before getting on the field. Once you’ve read through this list, you’ll be ready to enjoy the best paintball Colorado Springs has to offer.

1: Always Wear Eye Protection

Safety goggles are an absolute must when paintballing. Getting hit with a paintball on your skin can be a little painful, but it won’t cause a severe injury. Especially if you are wearing padding, you’ll just end up with a little bump or red area. A paintball to the eye, however, can cause very serious injury. This is why safety goggles are the number one paintball safety tip. A full-face shield, which includes protection for your eyes and breathing holes for your nose and mouth, is even better. But either way, the primary paintball safety rule is to keep them on at all times.

If you need to adjust your eye protection, you will have to exit the field of play or go to a designated “safe zone” if there is one. Do not take your goggles off anywhere else, even if you think you are hidden. 

If you have your own goggles, be aware that the lenses need to be replaced according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, and you should never play with cracked or old lenses. Also, be sure only to use dedicated goggles cleaner, as other products could be corrosive to the lenses and wear them down.

Image by Evan Cornman from Pixabay

2: Look Where You Shoot & Do Not Hit Anyone Without Eye Protection

It is very important to make sure that you are not “firing blind.” Beginner paintballers tend to close their eyes when shooting. This is totally natural! However, you will be allowed to practice firing at a marker before the competition starts so you can get used to the feeling. 

You always need to look where your marker is aiming before you shoot. First, make sure that you are within the field of play. Then be sure that the person you are aiming at, and everyone else around, is wearing proper protective equipment. Next, check that the person you are aiming at does not have their hands up. (As you will read below, this means that they are already out and exiting the playing field.) Finally, make sure you are aiming at the person’s torso, not their face.

If anyone does not have goggles on, your marker should be pointed down at the ground! Do not shoot even if the person without eye protection is on the side and not where you are aiming. Paintball markers are not the most precise shots, and someone could easily run in front of your target at the last second. This is why if you see someone without goggles on, you need to lower your paintball marker until they exit the field of play.

3. Give a Player the Opportunity to Surrender & Be a Good Sport

One common paintball safety practice is the idea of surrendering. If a player is close to you, within twenty feet when outdoors, you should give them the chance to surrender before shooting them. Getting hit by a paintball at such close range can be quite painful, so it is sportsmanlike to announce yourself and not actually shoot the person. You can yell “Surrender” or “You’re out” to tell the person that you got them, even though you aren’t firing your marker.

On this same note, if someone has snuck up on you and lets you surrender, do it. It would be poor sportsmanship to run away and say you are still in the game because you didn’t get hit. Trust us when we say that you do not want to get hit at such close range. When someone lets you surrender, put your hands up and exit the field.

4. Do Not Shoot Anything but Your Target

If you need to practice shooting, you will have access to a practice range and targets. Otherwise, you should only shoot at other players or targets in the field of play. Do not shoot at any wildlife, passing cars, or structures outside of the playing area. 

For one thing, it may be illegal, but it is also dangerous. You could hurt someone, and the paint in paintballs can leave behind a stain. Shooting when you are not supposed to is an easy way to end your day early by getting kicked out. Be respectful of your surroundings and only shoot at designated targets.

Photo by Pengyi zhang on Unsplash

5. Always Use a Barrel Sock and the Safety

There are two features of a marker that both make for essential paintball safety tips. First, a barrel sock is exactly what it sounds like: a sock that goes over the head of your marker’s barrel. This blocks paintballs from exiting the barrel if the marker accidentally discharges. Leave the barrel sock on until play is about to begin, and put it back on the barrel immediately once you exit the field.

The second is the safety, which you toggle on or off to be able to shoot. Anytime you are not on an active playing field, your safety should be in the ‘on’ position. This will make it impossible to pull the trigger, thus preventing you from accidentally discharging the marker.

6. Exit with Your Hands Up

When you are ready to exit the playing field (because you were hit, surrendered, or just need a break), you must announce yourself. To make it clear to other players that you are leaving, you should yell “out” and raise your hands and your paintball marker above your head. 

Be sure to walk off the field of play quickly and directly. If you are looking around at other players or zigzagging through obstacles, other players might mistakenly shoot you. Keep your hands up the whole time and keep your goggles on. 

Once you are out of the playing zone, you should first turn the marker’s safety on and put the barrel sock back on. Once your marker is protected, then you can take your goggles off, relax, and watch the rest of the game.

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

7. Take Cover to Rest and Reload

The best way to avoid getting hit is to ensure you don’t spend too much time in the open. Here are a couple key paintball tips for finding good positions on the field. First, if you can see in all directions, it means you are visible in all directions. And second, just because you can’t see someone doesn’t mean they can’t see you. It just means they are better hidden than you are. 

You want to keep yourself hidden, but not overly so. After all, if you stay in one spot all day, you’ll never hit anyone. Moving among protected areas is actually safer, too, as your opponents are doing the same to find you. You should run between trees or shelters, also called bunkers, and rest only when you are in a protected spot.

When you need to reload, find a safe spot, get low, and keep your back to a wall. You may be tempted to fire a shot to make sure your marker works, but be warned that the sound will give away your position!

8. Do Not Attempt to Fix a Paintball Marker Yourself

If your marker is jammed or having an issue, do not try to make any modifications on your own. You should bring it to staff or experts to fix it for you. Attempting any maintenance can be very dangerous for you and other players.

For one thing, markers may still have a charge after the CO2 canister has been removed. The proper way to take off a CO2 canister is to fire the marker (with no paintballs in it) as you remove the tank in order to release built-up air as you go. However, if you are renting a marker for the day, this is not even something you will have to worry about. You should leave the canister alone completely and tell staff if something is wrong.

Similarly, a paintball marker that you rent will come ready with proper settings. For outdoor challenges, markers should be set to around 300 feet per second (fps). Some ranges might require a slightly lower velocity, like 285 fps. Whatever it is, do not make any modifications to the marker.

Image by Christoph Schütz from Pixabay

9. Stretch & Drink Lots of Water

Paintballing requires a lot of physical activity. With all that running around, it’s important to stretch beforehand like you would for any other sport. Make sure you stay hydrated and listen to your body if you get too hot or tired. A paintball competition could last for a couple of hours, depending on the type of play and the number of players. Take a break when you need it so you can head back on the field strong and ready.

10: Have Fun!

Paintballing is an awesome outdoor activity to enjoy with a group of friends. With just a little preparation and practice, you can start an invigorating new sport that lasts for hours at a time. These tips will help ensure your paintball challenge is fun, safe, and injury-free. Now get out there and enjoy the game!