” To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold”
Looking for new ways to stay active this winter? Lets face it, Colorado isn’t getting less crowded. Rain or shine, cold or blazing hot….our fellow adventurers are fighting their way into the mountains each weekend. We all battle the I-70 traffic to ski the mounds of powdery goodness. Or travel to Nederland to snowshoe the pristine paths of the Hessie Trailhead. How about getting up at the butt crack of dawn to beat the other hikers at Brainard Lake? Rocky Mountain National Park offers many wintery excursions to snow covered mountain lakes. But how about traveling to Rifle, Colorado to explore the limestone rocks covered in blue ice!? Its less busy and a definite sight to see! This is a great area for hiking or ice climbing!
Rifle, Colorado is in between Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction. The Rifle Mountain Ice Caves form in December and last until February. Water flows over the canyon walls, freezes, and creates these big beautiful frozen cascades. There is an upper and lower ice cave, which are less than a mile in total hiking time. It is highly recommended to wear spikes because the cave floors are covered in a shimmering blue ice. You will not be able to walk into the caves without these! Once you’re inside the ice caves, huge icicles hang from the rock ceilings and the sun shines through the big blue icy walls that surround you. Its just breathtaking! There are additional trails that follow along the river and through the canyon. Steam comes off the turquoise river while bright green clovers form on the water’s bed. Its almost like a little bit of spring added into your winter exploration! There is also Rifle Falls State Park ($7 entry fee) just down the road from the ice caves. They are known for their 80- foot triple waterfall, powder stashes, bright bluebird skies, and endless winter activities. So bundle up, plan a little road trip, and venture to this icy paradise!
From I-70, take the Highway 13/Rifle exit an go north. Follow Highway 13 around downtown or take Railroad Avenue through the city. Follow Highway 13 north of Rifle.
At Hwy 325, turn right toward Rifle Creek Golf Course and Rifle Gap Reservoir. Drive over the dam at Rifle Gap and continue on Hwy 325 to Rifle Falls State Park. The entrance for Rifle Mountain Park is about 3 miles further, shortly after Highway 325 turns to gravel.