When the temperatures drop in Denver, you know the snow’s beginning to fall in the mountains. It’s that time of year when students, faculty and staff hit the slopes for snowboarding, skiing and other winter adventures.

“I go snowboarding maybe 50 days a season and ice-climbing 20 days a season,” said psychology major Danielle Lovely. “Anything outside is my idea of fun.”

With nearly 40 ski and snowboard resorts in the state, it’s easy to get to one from the Denver Campus or the Anschutz Medical Campus during breaks from class.

“We spend all winter vacation time in the mountains, and most weekends,” said John Hokanson, MPH, PhD, professor of epidemiology in the Colorado School of Public Health of his family’s snowboarding habits. “I went 69 times in the last two years, for 594,849 vertical feet.”

Danielle Lovely, Psychology major
Choose Colorado.

At CU Denver|Anschutz, course offerings are plentiful, and faculty are top-notch—but what often clinches the decision for students, faculty and staff to come to the Mile High City is the two-mile-high mountains nearby.

Lovely said the mountains “most definitely” played a role in her decision to come to CU Denver.

“Since I moved from Kansas City, Mo., all my friends are jealous,” Lovely said. “They love my snow posts on Facebook and want to move out here. They think I’m the luckiest person on earth. I agree.”

Hokanson describes the effect of outdoor activities on the CU Anschutz experience in one word: “huge.”

“The mountains and outdoor activities provide a healthy atmosphere and attract others who are like-minded,” Hokanson said. “I entice my colleagues to visit Colorado, so we can go to the mountains.”

John Hokanson, PhD, professor of epidemiology
Have an outdoor adventure.

CU Denver students can take advantage of activities through the Outdoor Adventure Program at Campus Recreation at Auraria. Here’s a short list of what you can do with the Outdoor Adventure program:

  • Go ice-climbing in gorgeous Ouray.
  • Get in on leadership activities and team-building seminars.
  • Volunteer in outdoor search and rescue efforts.
  • Learn how to forecast backcountry avalanches.
  • Rent snowshoes, crampons, an ice axe and more.

“College gave me that chance to try everything through Outdoor Adventure,” said Lovely, who works as an instructor for the Outdoor Adventure Center. “I’m a well-rounded student, learning both on and off the mountains. I think now I’m 10 times more of a leader and teacher than I was before I learned all this.”

Meet an adventurer.

Bryan Ferguson, Outdoor Leadership SpecialistBryan Ferguson

  • Outdoor Leadership Specialist with Campus Recreation at Auraria for 19 years
  • CU Denver Alum, MA, School of Education and Human Development
  • Favorite winter mountain sport: Ice-climbing
  • “Students who participate in programs that get them involved in their institutions—like the Outdoor Adventure Program—are far more likely to succeed academically, are more likely to recall fond memories of their college experience and make lifelong relationships with other students.”
Fall in love with the mountains.

For some, the mountains are a vacation, a weekend retreat, a party. For others, they’re stress relief, relaxation, therapy.

“I love the mountains, and outdoor activities provide me with fun and friends for sure,” Lovely said. “When I’m stressed, there is nothing like a day of climbing or snowshoeing up a pass to ride down. I’m learning from everyone, too—it’s a life lesson, being engaged in outdoor activities.”

And, of course, for some, the mountains are a wonderful, happy addiction.

“I used to alpine ski, but my children talked me into trying snowboarding when we moved to Colorado. I said I would give it one season,” Hokanson said. “Haven’t looked back.”

CU in the City logo