6 Great Winter Activities for Non-Skiers and Where to Try Them
Not everyone who lives through winter or even enjoys winter is a skier or snowboarder. That’s totally fine; skiing can be expensive, the gear is cumbersome, you might have to take lessons … understood.
Skiing really is fun, and there are some ways to schuss on the cheap, like buying used gear or taking up cross-country skiing. But if it’s not doing it for you, here are some alternative winter activities to try, and some great places to try them.
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To be clear, even though it has “ski” in the name and it happens on snow, skijoring is nothing like downhill snow skiing. If you’re looking for a parallel, it’s like water-skiing on snow.
Let’s continue that comparison. Just like waterskiing, with skijoring you’re relying on an external means of propulsion to move you down the trail, only instead of a boat pulling you, you’re being pulled by a horse or dogs.
Either way, the sensation is totally exhilarating, and miles away from the bunny hill.
Dog-powered skijoring is definitely the predominant form of the activity, though both can be found out west. If you’re interested in the horse-powered version, Montana’s Resort at Paws Up and Triple Creek Ranch offer groomed courses, coaching, and all the equipment you need.
For dog-powered thrills, consider taking a clinic through Colorado’s High Country Dogs at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch, or give it a try at Winter Park, in Minocqua, Wisconsin. However, note that most dog-powered skijoring outfits are not only BYOD (Bring Your Own Dog) but BYOE (Bring Your Own Equipment).
Ice skating on the Rideau Canal
The story goes that one of the reasons the Netherlands has been a perennial power in world speed-skating competitions is because generations of Dutch kids have grown up skating on the country’s canals.
There just so happens to be some amazing in-city canal skating to be had closer to home in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. The Rideau Canal winds through the heart of the city, providing not only a wonderful workout but a way for many people to get to work.
The skateway covers 7.8 kilometers (roughly 4.8 miles), starting at the Ottawa Library and ending by the city’s art museum. There are rest areas throughout the skateway, and access points where you can enter and leave, catch light rail or other surface transport, or explore the capital region.
Firepits, changing areas, and refreshment stands make the skate even more enjoyable.
How cool is the skateway? It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has its own website.
Snowmobiling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
The best snowmobiling starts with the best snow, and the best snow (the most snow, anyway) is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP).
To say that the UP is a snowmobiler’s paradise is an understatement. The region’s trail system is arguably more developed than its highway system, and many students at Michigan Tech University even snowmobile to school.
One of the great things about snowmobiling in the UP is that you don’t have to stick to the trails. If you and your sled are up to it, you can try backcountry snowmobiling and cut your own path through the woods.
Want to know more? Check out the state of Michigan’s snowmobiling website.
Snowshoeing in New Hampshire
Snowshoeing is an amazing exercise, which probably comes as a surprise to people who never considered that stomping through deep snow in the cold with “tennis rackets” strapped to your feet could be great exercise.
If you’re considering a snowshoeing vacation, the most important requirement is a cozy, warm place to come to when you’re done tromping around.
New Hampshire’s aptly named White Mountains offer not only plenty of scenery to shoe through but many inns like the Snowvillage Inn Snowshoe Center that cater to shoers with trails, equipment, and a cup of hot chocolate at the end of your slog.
Also read: 6 Tips For Flying With Sports Equipment
Tobogganing in Montreal
Any kid will tell you that the most fun thing to do in the snow is to go sledding.
You don’t need to take a vacation to prove this to yourself, unless you don’t live near snow. Just borrow a sled or sled-like contraption and bellyflop down a nearby snow-covered hill, and see if your first reaction isn’t to run right back up the hill to do it again.
Of course, if you want to glitz it up you’re certainly welcome to. In this case, that means heading to Parc du Mont Royal in Montreal and hopping on a toboggan.
Tobogganing has a sort of old-time connotation, but there’s nothing old or slow about hopping on a slick wooden sled on a steep chute and going hurtling down a hill. The fact that it’s in Montreal makes it even better.
Tube and sled rentals are available when the chalet is open, and the promise of a rosy-cheeked day spent outdoors on the royal mountain sounds impossibly wonderful.
Bobsledding in Utah
If you’ve watched the Winter Olympics and seen slick-suited athletes going 100 miles an hour through an ice tunnel while laying on what appears to be a couple of razor blades … this is not that. However, bobsledding is an adrenaline rush bar none, and a taste of that Olympic experience is available to non-Olympians like us.
Utah Olympic Legacy offers rides in the back of a bobsled piloted by skilled drivers on the Salt Lake City Olympic bobsled course.
No matter how you choose to get your winter thrills, there’s a vacation destination for you! And it’s a good idea to get travel insurance to help protect you and your trip. Get a quote today for your next winter adventure.