Winter comes to Evergreen

Get a jump on the holidays in this tiny Denver foothills town
Claire Walter

Set deep in the foothills less than an hour west of Denver's skyscrapers, tiny Evergreen―with its historic downtown and ice-skating lake―carries on a love affair with winter that starts with the holidays.

As soon as the ice is safely solid, Evergreen Lake (29614 Upper Bear Creek Rd.; 303/512-9300), presents a scene reminiscent of a Currier & Ives lithograph. Skaters circle a section of ice set against a backdrop of pine-covered rolling hills. Farmers and lumbermen settled this valley in the 1870s and '80s, and today the town still feels a world away from sprawling suburbia. The lake opens for skating as early as mid-December and almost always by Christmas; call for hours and conditions.

Whether the water is frozen or not, Santa Claus comes to town at 5 p.m. on December 6 to light the town tree on the lake shore 1/2 mile west of downtown. Carolers will sing, their breath visible in the wintry air.

During the holidays, a Christmas tree adorned with old-fashioned decorations is on display at the Hiwan Homestead Museum (4208 S. Timbervale Dr.; 303/674-6262), a rustic 17-room mansion that has been restored to its 1890-1930 appearance.

Evergreen's Main Street (State 74) may be short, but it is crammed with shops and galleries. Sharing conjoined storefronts, Evergreen Crafters and Village Casuals (303/674-3153) are packed with interesting gift items, jewelry, and women's fashions. The Cobweb Shoppe (303/674-7833) displays an ever-changing assortment of antique glassware and linens. For collectibles try Edelweiss Haus (303/674-7659), which sells hand-painted Department 56 miniature villages and other European goods. Alison Sawyer's inspiring raku angels go fast at the Evergreen Gallery (303/674-4871).

Literally wrapped around Evergreen Gallery is SoHo Evergreen (lunch and dinner Mon-Sat, brunch Sun; 303/670-3000), a contemporary restaurant serving steak, seafood, and Italian fare. For something lighter, try Creekside Cellars (11-5 Wed-Sun; 303/674-5460) for a great deli sandwich.

Travel planner

WHERE: Evergreen is 45 miles west of downtown Denver; take I-70 to exit 252 and go south on State 74.

FYI:  Hiwan Homestead Museum: Open 12-5 Tue-Sun for free tours. Evergreen Lake ice-skating: Open seasonally, conditions permitting; $3.50, plus $3 skate rental fee.

CONTACT: Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce: www.evergreenchamber.org or (303) 674-3412