Winter Activities for Teens in Summit County

teen winter tubing summit county

Keystone Science School works with teens across the country and throughout the year on our Overnight Camp, Discovery Expeditions, and Outdoor Education programs or as CAPs and even staff! So we know a thing or two about what fun is to be had in our backyard. Here’s a list of some of our favorite activities for teens in Summit County. The list includes things to do that are fun for the whole family or activities where you can drop them off for their own adventures.

  • Snowshoeing - There are so many great hiking and snowshoeing trails across Summit County. Check out the KSS Blog on some of Summit County snowshoe hiking trails to learn more.
  • Cross-Country Skiing - There are so many cross country ski trails and many of them can be accessed within walking distance of any home rental or main street location. Rent skis for the week and your teen can have a new adventure every day. To learn more about Summit County cross-country trails check out this blog.
  • Ice Skating - Keystone Resort has one of the largest zamboni-groomed ponds in the country. This is a great location for any teen. They have a warming hut with TVs, video games, and skate rentals. Teens can rent ice skates or bring their own. For those in Breckenridge, you can go to the Stephan A Ice Rink which has public skating and skate rentals. If they have their own ice skates there are ponds in Silverthorne and Frisco that can be accessed free of charge.
  • Tubing (County Wide) - There are several tubing hills at each Resort or Frisco Adventure Park. Teens can schedule their time slot and have fun sliding down the hill with a rope tow system. This is a perfect outdoor activity for any teen that might not want to ski.
  • Movie Theaters (Dillon or Breckenridge) - Skyline Cinema is centrally located in Dillon and is Summit County’s largest movie theater. There is always a collection of the newest movies. If you’re in Breckenridge you can check out the Speakeasy Movie Theater which shows both blockbuster movies and small independent movies.
  • Ice Castles - Dillon is home to world-famous ice castles. You can purchase a ticket and let them explore the ice castles. If your teen is always taking pictures with their phone, they will be sure to get their fill of unique pictures to share with their friends at home.
  • Escape Rooms - Breckenridge and Frisco each have Escape Rooms and is a great way to engage any teen. Schedule your time and see if they are up to the challenge!
  • Community Events - Summit County is full of community events all winter long whether it’s outdoor concerts, ski/snowboard competitions, and public art. Check out the events calendar in the Summit Daily (local newspaper) and see what’s happening in Summit County during your stay.

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Family Friendly Snowshoe Hikes in Summit County

summit co snowshoe hikes

Dillon & Keystone Snowshoe Trails

  • Oro Grande Trail – This hike starts in Dillon and is relatively flat and overlooks the Dillon Reservoir and the 10-Mile Range. This is one of our favorites of the amazing views of the entire hike. It’s also south facing so even on some of the colder days it can feel like a warm hike. It does experience some foot traffic so if the conditions are right, the trail might be packed down and you wouldn’t even need snowshoes. This is an out-and-back so you can hike until you’re ready to turn around. Once you turn around and return to Dillon you will then be treated with amazing views of the Gore Range.
  • Old Dillon Reservoir – This is a short 1.7-mile hike with great views of the Gore Range from the top. The trailhead is located on the west side of the Dillon Dam. Once you leave the trailhead you’ll have a short uphill hike before making it to some of the more breathtaking views of Summit County. At the top will be a small reservoir that supplies parts of Summit County with their drinking water. You can walk around the reservoir or simply run around and head back to the car.
  • Dillon Nature Preserve – Park at the trailhead for the Dillon Nature Preserve and you’ll find a wide network of trails you can do a short out and back hike or you can create some longer loop hikes of over 5 miles. The majority of trails have amazing views across the Dillon Reservoir of the 10-Mile and Gore Ranges. You can even walk on a plowed road along the Reservoir which is a great option for those families pushing a stroller.

Frisco Snowshoe Trails

  • Rainbow Lake Trail – This trail can be accessed from multiple points throughout Frisco with the most common being from 2nd Street, known as Zach’s Stop. This trail meanders uphill, through the woods, and eventually makes it to a small lake and great scenic vista of Peak 1. This is a great snowshoe hike for any family.
  • Meadow Creek Trail – This is a great 3-mile snowshoe through a dense forest. The trail goes along the frozen Meadow Creek before eventually connecting to the Lily Pad Lake Trail. After about another mile you will come to Lily Pad lake which provides great views of Buffalo Mountain.

Silverthorne Snowshoe Trails

  • Mesa Cortina Trail – This is a trail traveling above the hillside of Silverthorne. There are lots of options for a short out and back or to make it a loop hike by connecting some of the trails near the Buffalo Cabin Trail. Cell service isn’t great in this valley so be sure to have a map
  • Lily Pad Lake Trail – Lilly Pad lake trail is about 3.3 miles out-and-back snowshoe hike. It leaves from the top of Ryan Gulch road. The trail goes through a dense forest before you make it to Lily Pad Lake. Please note that this is a heavily trafficked trail and parking is often a challenge. The Summit Stage (Summit County-operated free buss) does drop off at a bus station close to the trailhead.
  • Rock Creek Trail – This trail is north of Silverthorne and a perfect snowshoe hike for a family. It’s an out-and-back so you can hike until you're tired and simply turn around. The hike leaves the trailhead and goes strat up before it levels off for the duration of the snowshoe hike. On clear days you can get amazing views of Keller Mountain and the Gore Range.

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Three Elements that Make a Challenge Hike

While away from their everyday lives at Keystone Science School’s summer camp, kids get the chance to step out of their comfort zones, gain independence, and learn about themselves. Challenge Hikes are one of many ways that campers and students can learn these lessons. Simply put, a hike is just a long walk. Sometimes for pleasure, sometimes for being social, and sometimes for exercise. Our Challenge Hikes combine all three of these elements into one influential experience for campers.

challenge hike kss

The first and most apparent element of a Challenge Hike is the physical challenge of walking itself. We believe that campers are almost always capable of much more than they think they are. It is our job on a Challenge Hike to help campers show themselves how much they are capable of, and to provide support for campers so that they can reach their potential. In their typical routines, most kids do not get the opportunity to push their limits and learn how strong they really are. Our Challenge Hikes are chosen to be appropriate difficulties for kids of all abilities. For some, stepping onto the trail is an achievement, while others may be ready to scale alpine peaks. Rather than focusing on the destination as an achievement, we focus on the personal accomplishments of each camper, and the destinations become an extra treat.

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From Camper to Student, the KSS Progression

We have two terms in which we refer to our participants during the summer season. We have campers and we have students. We refer to participants in any Day Camp, Discovery Camp, or Discovery Adventure as campers. The most important aspect of KSS for campers is...camp!

The camper experience should be one of fun, community, learning, and growth. The focus for campers is the traditional camp experience: games, campfires, friends, skits, s’mores, in essence, everything that makes camp, camp. We want campers to grow by pushing themselves in an environment that is comfortable and nurturing for their development. We break down barriers through songs, skits, costumes, and goofy camp magic. The camper experience is a phenomenal building block towards becoming a student. Campers are introduced to the tools that they will later use when they graduate to our more trying programs.

kss progression camper to student

The student experience is designed to look and feel different from a camper experience. Participants in our Discovery Expeditions are referred to as students. While the camper experience is centered around fun, the student experience is more concentrated on learning and challenge.

The core curriculum of Discovery Expeditions are leadership development and outdoor living skills. Students in these programs will be challenged. We push our students physically, mentally, and emotionally to grow in a safe environment. Students are physically tested through hiking, backpacking, and other adventures, but we also challenge students to learn to lead their peers and discuss topics such as diversity and inclusion. The student experience is not always an easy one, but it is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences KSS can offer.

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Summer Staff Training: Preparing Instructors to Change Lives

kss staff training 1

We believe that the key to exceptional camper and student experiences is having a professional, caring, and happy staff. While we have ongoing mentorship and meetings throughout the summer, the bulk of our training starts before any campers or students arrive.

Building the best staff starts long before the sunny days of summer. We begin building our staff in the heart of winter when snow still buries our mountains. Applicants go through a thorough interview process so that we can find those who best fit at the Keystone Science School. In order to be hired applicants must obtain at a minimum a Wilderness First Aid and CPR certifications. Many of our staff members go above and beyond and obtain their Wilderness First Responder. They then must pass a comprehensive background check before being welcomed into the KSS family.

Training starts in early May with our camp leadership team coming together to bond, prepare, and put the finishing touches on summer plans. After our leadership team, the next to arrive are our overnight camp staff. This includes the staff for our Discovery Camp, Discovery Adventures, and Discovery Expedition programs. All of our overnight staff goes through 2 weeks of intensive training including:

  • Risk management and decision making
  • Covid protocol training 
  • Colorado State Licensure training
  • Curriculum and teaching training 
  • Wilderness training
  • Mental health training
  • Camp activity training
  • Social-Emotional Learning training 
  • And much more!

Our day camp instructors are the last to arrive for training. Day camp staff joins the team and quickly becomes part of the KSS family. As soon as they arrive, the day camp staff gets to work on becoming the best counselors they can be. The day camp staff receives all of the above training with a special focus on elementary school-aged children.

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