Looking for the best things to do in Silverthorne, Colorado?
Located in beautiful Summit County, just a 1 hour and 20-minute drive from Denver, Silverthorne is one of the most picturesque and easy-to-get-to towns in Colorado. And there are plenty of things to do in this little gem of a town!
Although this small mountain town only has about 4,500 inhabitants year-round, Silverthorne is a hub of fun activities during every season. And sitting at an incredible 8,730 feet (2661m) above sea level, you can really get a taste of Colorado ‘high life’
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Silverthorne is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and national forests – the natural beauty here is astounding. Silverthorne is also well-connected to other popular holiday spots like Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, and Vail.
Best Things To Do In Silverthorne In Summer
Silverthorne is surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, and wild Colorado wilderness. So, if you’re a nature lover, you will feel right at home here. But just to help you plan your trip, below are 14 of the best summer activities:
1. Kayak On The Dillon Reservoir
Dillon Reservoir, also known as Lake Dillon, is a large freshwater reservoir supplying water to the city of Denver. This pristine body of water is bordered by three towns: Silverthorne, Dillon, and Frisco, all providing lake access.
During the summer months, Dillon Reservoir is a great spot for water recreation. If you don’t have your own boat or kayak, you can rent kayaks from local outdoor recreation companies. You can even book guided kayak tours around the lake.
Most kayak tours depart from Frisco Bay Marina and take you through sheltered bays and islands. Kayaking around Dillon Reservoir is one of the best summer activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Note: Kayak tour prices range from $62-70 depending on the tour itinerary. And the minimum age requirement is 10 years old.
2. Summit a 14er – Quandary Peak!
Quandary Peak is one of the easiest and most accessible 14ers in Colorado, so it’s the perfect hike to pop your 14er cherry! Located just south of Breckenridge, this 6.6-mile out-and-back trail typically takes just over 5 hours to complete.
The trail is a standard route and it’s well-maintained year-round, just be sure to preserve some energy for the steep elevation gain just below the summit. In total there is a 3,326 ft elevation gain with some rocky switchbacks.
Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you going. And even if you’re hiking in the middle of the summer and it’s 85°F at the trailhead, you MUST bring some warm layers with you! At the summit, it could drop down to freezing temperatures with wind chill.
3. Hike The Gore Mountains
If you’re a true outdoor adventurer, you should definitely plan a day trip out to the nearby Gore Mountains. Hardly anyone knows about this stunning area of untouched wilderness, the Gore Range is a true hidden gem.
The Gore Mountains stretch between Summit and Eagle County along the I-70, between Silverthorne and Vail. Most of this breathtaking mountain range lies within the protected Eagles Nest Wilderness area and is only accessible on foot or by horseback.
One of the most popular Gore Mountain hikes is the Gore Lake Trail, this is a challenging 13-mile hike. The trailhead starts at 8,500feet (2,590m) just outside of Vail, then you will gain an additional 3,200 feet (975m) to reach Gore Lake, nestled high in the craggy peaks.
4. White Water Raft On The Blue River
The clear cold waters of the Blue River run through Silverthorne town. You can partake in leisurely activities such as walking or fishing along the river banks, or you can catch some thrills by white water rafting on the Blue River.
The Blue River offers intermediate whitewater rafting, so it’s perfect for families and first-timers. The rafting journey is relatively short too, so it’s also a great activity to fit in on a tight schedule.
Departing from Silverthorne, you will enjoy a short but intense trip down 2.5 miles of rapids. The best time of year for rafting is between May and July, depending on the water levels, rafting can stretch into August. Prices start from $66 per person.
5. Stand Up Paddleboard
Silverthorne is also a great spot for stand-up paddleboarding (SUP). You can do some leisurely boarding on the Dillon Reservoir, or if you really want to put your skills to the test, you can board down the Blue River.
Stand Up Paddleboarding is the newest craze in Colorado summer activities and it’s fun for all ages and abilities. You can get a great full-body workout, go at your own pace and take in the beautiful mountain views.
There are several board rental companies that offer guided tours and lessons as well. You can rent your own SUP for a day, or for multiple days during your stay. Rentals start at $60 and you can hire helmets and life jackets too if you wish.
6. Go Camping Along Montezuma Road
Since I live in Steamboat Springs and many of my friends live in Denver, we like to meet in Silverthorne as a halfway point and go camping together. And our favorite area to set up camp is along Montezuma Road.
Montezuma Road is located in the White River National Forest outside of Keystone, Colorado, and is managed by the Dillon Ranger District. The Montezuma area was originally settled by miners in 1863 during the silver boom.
Today, this recreation area hosts many campgrounds during the warmer months and a handful remains open through the winter. From the dispersed camping spots you’ll be able to observe wildlife and enjoy some great hiking and biking trails.
7. Go Golfing In Keystone
Colorado is home to some of the most impressive golf courses in the world, positioned in wide-open valleys with stunning mountain backdrops. If you’re staying in Silverthorne you can enjoy world-class golf in nearby Keystone.
Only a 20-minute drive away, Keystone resort is home to 2 golf courses, Keystone Ranch Golf Course and the River Course at Keystone. Both of these idyllic courses have 18 holes.
The Ranch Course is a classic course that winds across wide-open sage meadows, through pine trees, and around a 9-acre lake. The River Course is a bit more challenging due to the elevation gain but offers scenic views and a flowing river.
8. Hike To Sapphire Point Overlook
Located near Frisco, across Dillon Reservoir, this short 0.6-mile loop trail is very easy and accessible for young children and grandparents too. It only takes about 15 minutes to complete and it’s a popular spot amongst tourists and locals alike.
This is a favored area for running, walking, and biking, so you’ll see plenty of other outdoor enthusiasts along the trail. Once you reach Sapphire Point Overlook you’ll have outstanding views of Lake Dillon below and the high Rocky Mountain peaks.
The best times to visit the Overlook are from May to September. Sapphire Point is growing in popularity as an elopement spot too, due to the dramatic backdrop. So don’t be surprised if you stumble into a wedding ceremony.
9. Enjoy Happy Hour With A View
You’ll find one of the coolest bars in Colorado in Dillon, along the shores of Dillon Reservoir. Pug Ryans Lakeside Tiki Bar has the most amazing views of the lake and surrounding mountains, it’s also one of the best sunset spots around.
Pug Ryan’s is also a brewery, serving up 13 tasty brews on tap, along with a full bar and yummy pub food. Happy Hour runs 2 – 6 pm every day, there are also different special offers each day of the week.
No matter what season or which day of the week you drop in at Pug Ryan’s, you’ll be sure to have a good time and enjoy some true Colorado hospitality.
10. Hike Up Buffalo Mountain
This 6.4-mile out-and-back trail is a great local hike in Silverthorne. This hike is rated as ‘difficult’ and takes about 5 hours to complete. This is also a popular location for other activities such as birding and snowshoeing in the winter.
The trailhead can be found at Ryan Gulch Circle. There is a parking lot, but it can get very crowded at peak times during the summer. The trail is a straight shot from the starting point all the way to the top of Buffalo Mountain.
Winding through the Eagles Nest Wilderness, this area is great for wildlife spotting. Just be aware that there are some regulations in place to protect the wilderness, such as no campfires above 11,000 feet (3352m) and no camping within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or trail.
11. Visit Lily Pad Lake
If you’re looking for a scenic hike that doesn’t involve too much effort, get out to Lily Pad Lake. Just outside of Silverthorne, this 3.3-mile out-and-back trail is considered an easy walk and takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
The trailhead for Lily Pad Lake also starts off of Ryan Gulch Road in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, as the Buffalo Mountain Trail mentioned above. The Lily Pad Lake hike is a great option for families, the path is well-marked so you know exactly where to go when the trail splits.
You’ll meander through lodgepole pines and aspens, then past several beaver ponds. As you approach Lily Pad Lake you can enjoy views of Dillon Reservoir and Buffalo Mountain. You should definitely bring a picnic and enjoy this tranquil spot.
12. Enjoy Live Music Around Town
Silverthorne and Dillon have several fun bars between them. So whether you’re just looking for a cold beer to unwind after a long hike, or you want to party all night, you’re bound to find something in the area.
Highside Brewing is a craft beer and BBQ joint in Frisco. There’s a taproom on the first floor and a kitchen and cocktail bar on the second floor. They also have weekly live music. Another good spot for live bands is Lake Dillon Tavern & Pizza Company, hosting local musicians every night.
As a fantastic outdoor venue, you have Dillon Amphitheater. This fantastic lakeside venue hosts free concerts and entertainment with a majestic Rocky Mountain backdrop.
13. Go Mountain Biking
If you’re a serious mountain biker, you’ll be in Heaven in Silverthorne! From downtown, you can connect to the Salt Lick Trail, which is an amazing single-track mountain bike trail. Pedaling through aspen groves and open meadows, you’ll have great views of Buffalo Mountain and Dillon Reservoir.
There are also nearby mountain bike parks such as:
- Commando Run, Vail
- Copper Mountain Bike Park, Copper Mountain
- Copper Triangle, Copper Mountain
- Corkscrew, Breckenridge
But if you’re just looking for some casual cruising for the whole family, you can cycle along the Blue River Trail. This 3.5 – mile paved cycle and walking paths take you through downtown Silverthorne to Dillon Dam.
14. Fly Fish On The Blue River
Strategically positioned near the Blue River, Colorado River, and Williams Fork River, Silverthorne is one of the best fly fishing spots in Colorado. It’s no wonder people flock here to fish for wild trout.
Since the Blue River runs right through downtown Silverthorne, for an easy day of fly fishing you can just stroll a couple of blocks from your hotel room. And if you’ve forgotten any gear or decide to go fishing spur of the moment, there are plenty of local high-quality fly fishing shops.
You can also book a fly fishing tour with local guides who can show you the best spots and teach you about the surrounding environment. Guided fishing trips usually cost around $300 for a half day and $400 for a full day.
Best Things To Do In Silverthorne In Winter
It’s pretty incredible that there are so many summer activities to do around Silverthorne. But guess what! There’s even more. Once the snow covers the ground a whole new list of fun things to do opens up. Below are our 10 favorite activities to do in Silverthorne during winter. And if you love these, wait until you see what Steamboat Springs has to offer.
15. Go Skiing or Snowboarding
Colorado is famous for its champagne powder and glorious bluebird days on the slopes. Basically, the entire state becomes a big playground for winter sports enthusiasts. And while Silverthorne itself doesn’t have a ski resort, there are several world-class resorts nearby.
Ski Resorts Near Silverthorne, Colorado
- Breckenridge Resort (30+ minutes)
- Keystone Resort (15 minutes)
- Steamboat Resort (1.5 hours)
- Loveland Ski Area (15 minutes)
- Arapahoe Basin (20 minutes)
- Copper Mountain (15 minutes)
- Vail Ski Resort (35 minutes)
- Beaver Creek Resort (50 minutes)
- Winter Park Resort (1 hour)
- Granby Ranch (1 hour 15 minutes)
So if you’re staying in Silverthorne during the winter, you should definitely check out a ski mountain close by. Even if you’re a total beginner, you can take snowboarding lessons and practice on the easier runs.
16. Cross Country Ski In Nearby Frisco
With its generous amount of fresh snow every year and stunning mountain backdrop, Frisco is ideal for cross-country skiing. In fact, there are so many miles of ski trails, you could spend days skiing through the Frisco countryside.
Most people start out at the Frisco Nordic Center. Located on the shores of Lake Dillon at the Peninsula Recreation Center, the Nordic Center offers 16 miles (27km) of trails for cross-country skiing and skate skiing.
For experienced skiers looking to get off the beaten path, the Summit County Recreational Pathway offers a trail system stretching over 55 miles (88km). There are also various U.S. Forest Service trails, the most popular being Miner’s Creek Road.
17. Visit The Escape Room
Believe it or not, the little town of Frisco also has an escape room. So, if you need a break from the snow and the cold, this indoor activity will be fun for the whole family and put your problem-solving skills to the test.
Frisco Escape Room is an immersive and interactive experience. You’ll have one hour to figure out how to ‘escape’ from the room. Hunting for clues and finding hidden objects, you’ll need to solve the puzzles to open the exit door.
The escape room in Frisco has 3 different themed rooms to choose from gold mining, a wild west saloon, and a secret agent mission. Booking an escape room is great for family fun and team building. Rates start at $35 per room for one hour.
18. Watch Ski Joring in Leadville
Bet you haven’t heard of ski joring before! This is probably the wildest snow sport in America. Basically, skiers hold on to ropes attached to galloping horses and get pulled down the street and over jumps.
The Leadville ski joring competition started in 1949 and was inspired by a similar event originating in nearby Steamboat Springs. The main differentiating factor is speed. Leadville’s ski joring involves racing horses for maximum speed and adrenaline. While in Steamboat, a ranching town, slower farm horses are used.
Leadville’s ski joring takes place on the first weekend of March each year, so the next competition will be March 4-5, 2023.
19. Attend Ullr Fest In Breckenridge
Every year Breckenridge holds a Viking festival praising Ullr, the Norse god of winter, in the hopes of a plentiful ski season. Ullr Fest is a legendary party, where locals and tourists come together to celebrate snow.
There are numerous events happening in downtown Breckenridge all week. There is a parade down Main Street, bars and restaurants offer games and special deals, live music… and the longest Shotski world record-breaking attempt! – If you’re over 21, you should definitely join in and help make history.
This year’s Ullr Fest will be held between December 8-11, 2022. You can find out more about the festival schedule and other Breckenridge happenings at gobreck.com.
20. Shop At The Outlet Mall
If you’re looking for another indoor activity or want to do some holiday shopping, check out the Outlets at Silverthorne. With 40 different luxury stores spread between 3 buildings, you’ll be able to indulge in some high-end retail therapy.
The Silverthorne Outlets are probably also the prettiest outlet mall you’ll ever see. Designed in the typical mountain chalet style, the buildings are in keeping with the natural surroundings and offer amazing views of the Rockies.
The outlets are open from 10 am-7 pm on Monday-Saturday, then 10 am-6 pm on Sundays. We schedule several shopping trips to the Silverthorne Outlets from Steamboat Springs because they have the best deals around!
21. Go Winter Hiking/ Snowshoeing
If you dread winter because hiking is your favorite outdoor activity, cheer up! There are plenty of amazing winter hikes and snowshoeing trails around Silverthorne too.
Quandary Peak, Sapphire Point Lookout, and Lily Pad Lake mentioned earlier in this post are all accessible year-round. And the Frisco Nordic Center doesn’t just offer cross-country skiing, there are also 5 miles (8km) of snowshoeing trails.
You can rent snowshoes for $13 per day, or get a discounted bundle price if you rent them for multiple days.
For more inspiration on winter hiking, check out our post on the Best Winter Hikes In Colorado.
22. Winter Ziplining
Maybe you’ve been ziplining before, but have you ever gone ziplining in winter?
If you’re using Silverthorn as the base camp for your winter vacation, you can take a 30-minute drive down I-70 and take Exit 195 to find Top of the Rockies Zip Line.
This ziplining company operates year-round, even in the middle of winter!
So you can bundle up warm and soar above the snow-covered treetops and take in the most incredible views of the Rocky Mountains.
Top of the Rockies offers 2-hour tours where you’ll encounter different zip lines of varying height and length, the highlight of the tour is The Big Nugget Zip.
Rates are $125 for adults and $100 for children.
23. Snow Tubing
Snow tubing is an excellent way to enjoy the snow without clumping around in ski boots, carrying snowboards, or working up a sweat cross-country skiing. The only purpose of snow tubing is FUN!
The closest snow tubing locations near Silverthorne are Frisco Adventure Park and Keystone Resort. Frisco has a tubing hill with different lanes that vary in steepness and terrain. The tubing hill in Keystone Resort is located high up the mountain and is open for day or night tubing.
Both tubing hills have magic carpet lifts to transport you and your tube back up the hill. Snow tubing truly is a fun day out for all ages!
24. Try Ice Fishing
Even with a surface area of 5 square miles (13 sq. km), in the middle of the Colorado winter, Lake Dillon will freeze over. Depending on the ice conditions, ice fishing season can run from Thanksgiving to early April.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a total beginner, safety on the ice is paramount! So we recommend booking an ice fishing tour with Big Ed’s Fishing Ventures in Dillon, or Alpine Fishing Adventures in Frisco. The local guides can take you to the best access points and help you navigate the ice.
In order to fish, you’ll also need to purchase a fishing license. You can easily pick up a one-day license at Walmart or City Market (the local grocery store). The cost of a one-day fishing license is $9 for ages 16 and over.
25. Go Ice Skating
From December to February the town of Silverthorne grooms and maintains its frozen North Pond, turning it into a public ice rink. You can bring your own skates and hockey sticks and enjoy this natural ice rink from dawn till dusk.
There is a warming hut at the edge of the ice rink where you can take a break and enjoy some hot beverages. You should also keep an eye on Silverthorne’s winter event calendar, you could partake in the Twilight Skate or watch the International Pond Tournament.
Skating on a frozen pond is like a scene from a winter storybook, it’s an unforgettable fun activity. The only downside is that there are no ice skate rental stores in Silverthorne, so you will need to bring your own or rent them before your trip.
Visiting Silverthorne, Colorado: FAQs
So far we’ve given you a pretty comprehensive list of fun things to do around Silverthorne in both summer and winter. But just in case you want to learn a little more about the town itself, below are answers to some FAQs:
Is Silverthorne, Colorado Worth Visiting?
Definitely! Silverthorne is absolutely beautiful. The first time we drove through Silverthorne, we had to pull over and take pictures. – The 360° views around the valley are stunning.
Silverthorne also offers a ton of activities during every season, it’s very easy to get to from Denver, and it serves as a great base camp for visiting other famous Colorado towns and ski resorts nearby.
Does Silverthorne, Colorado Have A Downtown?
Yes and no… Silverthorne has always been pedestrian-friendly with walkways and footbridges connecting different parts of the small town.
But it’s only recently that Silverthorne has been able to claim an actual downtown. Now you can visit the brand new Fourth Street Crossing district of Silverthorne with restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels. However, this new area is still under development, so there will be much more to come in the near future.
What Is Silverthorne Known For?
Silverthorne was first explored by prospectors during the Gold Rush, but unfortunately, precious metals were sparse in this area. It then became a camp for workers building the Dillon Dam.
Today, Silverthorne is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts due to its prime location within the Rocky Mountains and untouched forests and wilderness areas.
Where Can I See Wildlife In Silverthorne?
Wildlife is so abundant around Silverthorne, you’ll probably be able to spot deer or black bears from your hotel balcony!
But if you really want to immerse yourself in nature and observe Silverthorne’s wild inhabitants in their natural habitat, you should go hiking in the Blue River State Wildlife Area or in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.
The Wrap-Up: Best Things To Do In Silverthorne
Thank you for taking the time to read our post about beautiful Silverthorne, Colorado! We hope you can take away some fun activity ideas and start planning your trip to Silverthorne, or try out some of these cool things to do if you’re already there.
Summit County is one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado, even though we’ve been there countless times, we’re always excited to go back. Be sure to explore the outstanding natural beauty around Silverthorne!