The Best Things To Do in Silverthorne, CO: Activities for Winter and Summer
January 9, 2022
Silverthorne is a small mountain town in Summit County, Colorado that makes the perfect base for outdoor adventures year round. In the winter, Silverthorne offers more affordable lodging options than some of it’s more famous neighbors such as Vail. In the summer, Silverthorne makes the perfect base for activities like hiking, white water rafting and mountain biking. No matter what time of year you visit, Silverthorne and the entire Summit County make incredible destinations for a Colorado vacation!
For unique and affordable lodging, The Pad is an incredible place to stay! The Pad is a hostel and boutique hotel that opened in Silverthorne in 2021 and they offer a variety of room options for every type of traveler. Stay in a hostel dorm and make new friends, or choose a private room and enjoy the comforts of a boutique hotel. I stayed in a private micro room and loved the foggy forest scene on the wall, the floor to ceiling window with a mountain view, the desk as a workspace and the comfortable bed.
When you enter The Pad, you will immediately feel right at home as you’re greeted by the friendly hostel dog Paddie. As you continue to explore the hotel, you’ll find murals, artwork, reclaimed wood finishings and more. On the third floor, there is a hot tub where you can warm up after skiing while enjoying the mountain views. On the first and second floors, there are workspaces and board games to borrow and play. There is also a shared kitchen space where you can cook your own food and a full service bar with an amazing selection of local beers, wines and cocktails. I loved that each beer on the A-Bar menu listed the distance from where it was brewed!
The Pad has made a commitment to sustainability and uses locally-made items whenever possible. Shipping containers were used in the architecture, there is art made by local artists for sale and reclaimed wood from the building formerly on this land was incorporated into construction. The hotel also offers several community events like yoga, backcountry classes and open mic nights. Right behind the hotel, you can walk along the Blue River and enjoy the view or walk to businesses around the area.
I highly recommend staying at The Pad on your trip to the Colorado mountains!
Silverthorne and the surrounding area has something special to offer year round!
In the winter, freezing temperatures in Silverthorne brings a lot of snow. It is a great time to visit if you are planning to ski but is also just a beautiful time of year in general. If you do visit in the winter, make sure your vehicle is prepared for winter driving (all wheel drive, winter tires or both) and check road conditions on COTrip before traveling up into the mountains.
Silverthorne is surrounded by several popular ski areas, including Vail, Breckenridge, Loveland and Keystone. It’s a great base to stay while skiing and exploring the area, especially if you want to avoid some of the extreme prices in places like Vail.
The transitional spring months of April and May are affectionately nicknamed “mud” season in this area. The snow may have melted in some areas but may be hanging on in others. The ski resorts have closed for the season but summer isn’t quite in full swing. Spring is still a nice time for hiking or enjoying the views with fewer crowds.
The summer months are when the most visitors visit Silverthorne and is a great time to visit for many outdoor activities like rafting, hiking and biking.
In the fall, you can enjoy beautiful fall foliage in September and October. There are also interesting festivals in the area in the fall, such as Breckenridge Oktoberfest.
If you are flying into Colorado, the closest major airport is the Denver International Airport. From Denver, you will take I-70 up into the mountains and will reach Silverthorne in an hour and a half without traffic. If you are visiting in the winter, be sure to allow extra time for slow traffic in winter conditions.
Skiing and snowboarding are the main attraction for visitors to Summit County during the winter. Silverthorne is less than an hour away from several popular ski areas, including Vail, Breckenridge, Loveland and Keystone.
If you are new to skiing, Keystone is a great option because there are a variety of lesson options available. It is also only a 15 minute drive from Silverthorne!
Other snow activities include snow tubing at Frisco Adventure Park, snowshoeing on the area's many trails and renting snowmobiles.
There are several hiking trails in the area! I recommend checking recent reviews on All trails to find out about trail conditions, especially in the winter. If there has been a lot of recent snowfall, you will very likely need snowshoes.
I attempted a January hike with Yaktrax instead of snowshoes and it was nearly impossible. I highly recommend purchasing snowshoes. I tried to rent snowshoes and was unsuccessful, but I recommend calling the REI in Dillon to see if they have any available.
- Lily Pad Lake: 3.3 miles, 396 feet of elevation gain, rated easy. This trail leads to a beautiful lake and is located just a few minutes outside of Silverthorne.
- Ptarmigan Trail: 4.6 miles, 1,141 feet of elevation gain, rated moderate.
- Mayflower Lake and Mohawk Lakes: 7.9 miles, rated moderate.
- Breckenridge Troll: 1 mile, 121 feet of elevation gain, rated easy. This easy trail leads to Isak, a 15-foot tall wooden troll sculpture.
For an easy hike with an incredible view, visit the Sapphire Point Overlook. The viewpoint is about a half mile from the parking lot and there is an incredible view of the Dillon Reservoir and the mountains in the background.
There are several beautiful scenic drives that surround Silverthorne! If you are visiting in the winter, be sure to check road conditions as they may not be accessible.
Loveland Pass is a high elevation mountain pass full of hairpin turns and incredible views along the continental divide. The road reaches an elevation of 11,990 feet and has some places to park when you reach the highest point. This road used to be a major route that connected Denver to some of the mountain towns until the Eisenhower Tunnel was built in 1973. I was a bit nervous to make this drive because there are a lot of drop offs but it was worth it! Plus, semi trucks drive it so if they can do it, so can you. This area is popular for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. It is technically open year round but winter storms can cause temporary closures.
Boreas Pass is a scenic drive near Breckenridge that has amazing views. The pass reaches an elevation of 11,481 feet and is a connector between the Summit counties and Park county. Along the way, you can stop at the Highline Railroad Park and Museum. As you continue to climb the mountain, you will eventually rise above the treeline and enjoy incredible wide open views.
Independence Pass is a mountain pass road near Leadville that is only open in the summer. The road reaches 12,095 feet, making it the highest paved pass in the state. On the drive, you can enjoy views of the Twin Lakes and of the surrounding mountain peaks.
Riding a sled behind a team of powerful dogs is an incredible experience that is available in Summit Country during the winter months. There are several companies that offer dog sledding in the area during the season, which typically runs from November - April, but is weather dependent. Some outfitters to look at are Alpine Adventures and Good Times Adventures, and be sure to book ahead of time because tour slots fill up.
White water rafting on the Upper Colorado and Blue River is a popular activity during the warmer months of the year. Water levels depend on time of year, but the Upper Colorado River offers mild rapids (Class I-II) that are great for beginners, while the Blue River has Class I-III rapids and occasionally Class IV during high water. One company that operates out of Silverthorne is the Colorado Rafting Company; they offer half day, full day or overnight trips. If you are new to white water rafting, visiting one of these rivers with a guide is a great way to get started.
House of Vibes is an adorable coffee shop in Silverthorne full of witchy motifs, plants and of course good coffee and food. You can enjoy a breakfast sandwich on a biscuit and build it with several topping options like peanut butter, hot sauce or vegan chorizo. The shop has books on the walls and is full of artwork and plants, making it a super unique place to get your caffeine fix in Silverthorne.
Angry James is a great spot in Silverthorne to try some local beer and eat delicious food. The brewery opened in 2018 and has been a local favorite ever since. Inside the brewery, you can order food from Cultivate Kitchen, a restaurant that serves giant pretzels, chili dogs, beet sliders, pork tacos and more. I loved the beet sliders with goat cheese served on a red onion dill bread and enjoyed the lively atmosphere of Angry James.
Outer Range is a brewery located in Frisco, just a few minutes away from Silverthorne. The brewery has two levels and tons of patio space on both floors. There are a variety of beer options to choose from and I especially loved Lift Snacks - a smoothie sour beer! While the beer is great, one of the best things about Outer Range is the food stand inside - Bird Craft. Bird Craft serves “thai-ish” fried chicken along with some other options. I absolutely love their tofu and veggies bowl with their sriracha sauce. Just be prepared for some of the veggies to be spicy peppers!
Bread and Salt is a delicious spot to have brunch in downtown Frisco. They serve a variety of breakfast items from vegetable hashes to huevos rancheros. The restaurant feels a bit like a diner and is a great place to enjoy warm food on a cold day.
Frisco is just a few minutes from Silverthorne and has a beautiful historic downtown. You can shop in the many stores, go tubing at the Frisco Adventure Park and enjoy the various incredible restaurants in town.
Breckenridge is located about 20 minutes from Silverthorne and has a ton to do, from a variety of restaurants to famous ski trails. Main Street is a great place to explore year round, as there are tons of shops and restaurants and a path along the Blue River running parallel to the road. A few options to check out include The Canteen Tap House for lunch, Breckenridge Cheese & Chocolate for charcuterie and RMU Breck for a combination of bar, restaurant and outdoor store. Breckenridge also has some great hiking trails nearby.
Vail is most famous for skiing, but is also a beautiful place to visit in the off seasons. The town has beautiful Bavarian inspired architecture with white stucco walls trimmed in decorative wood. Vail has several fine dining restaurants and designer stores, but I recommend just walking around the town and visiting the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens for a $5 entry fee.
Leadville is a former silver-mining town that is actually the highest incorporated city in North America. It is located about 40 minutes southwest of Silverthorne. The drive between the cities is very scenic. Leadville is known for being an incredible base for outdoor adventures such as snowmobiling in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. During a day trip, you can visit the Mining Museum, grab a bite to eat and enjoy one of the many incredible outdoor activities that are nearby.
You’ll pass through Georgetown if you’re making the drive between Denver and the Summit County towns. Depending on the season, one of the best things to do is to take a ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, which offers beautiful views and goes past an historic silver mine. Georgetown also has several cute shops and restaurants. I enjoyed breakfast at Happy Cooker.
Buena Vista is known for river surfing, a popular activity in the warmer months. You can enjoy a drink at the Surf Hotel and watch the surfers on the river down below. The town is also located in close proximity to hot springs and full of art galleries, breweries, disterlleries and restaurants. In the winter, it’s a great place for snowmobiling and skiing.
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