Does this sound familiar? It’s been a long and stressful week; it’s cold outside, or you need time to unwind. Embarking on new snow sports or winter activities sounds like a challenging feat when you could watch “Netflix and Chill” from the cozy comfort of your couch.
Ultimately, watching the weekend slip away from you until you return to work on Monday to repeat the monotony until summer arrives. If this sounds like you, I challenge you to take another approach to life this weekend and find ways to get outside.
Have you heard nature’s healing and restorative powers are scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve mental health, provide exercise, and spark creativity?
If not, we highly recommend this book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.
What are the 10 Snow Sports?
If you haven’t heard, snowshoeing is fun and beginner-friendly, and you will learn within a few steps. It’s great exercise, a way to be social outdoors, and often comes with an awe-inspiring view saved for those willing to work for it.
Snowshoes are a frame with a decking that you can attach to the bottom of your boots, allowing you to walk on top of the snow rather than sink in and provide traction when things get slick.
- Sign up for a snowshoe tour with the local mountain shop or outdoor adventure shop. These often include the snowshoe rental, instruction, and guided tour.
- Look into MeetUp groups that organize group snowshoe tours.
- Ski Resorts often have uphill snowshoe routes and sometimes host group walks.
- Permit Areas or National Forests designated for snowshoeing. Look for snowshoes and other winter trail maps at your local outdoor shop.
- Check out snowshoe trail recommendations on the AllTrails app.
If you are out of shape or just getting into fitness, start with a shorter and flat snowshoe route or tour.
Riding an inner tube or a snow toy down a snow-covered hill, letting gravity do the work for a quick adrenaline rush, is fun for all ages. Snow tubing can be a great group, family activity, or even a fun date idea for couples.
- Find a snow tubing hill or park for public use in your local area on a snowy day.
- Head up to the mountains and use public forest land
- Ski resorts often have designated snow tubing areas you can pay to use. They will supply inner tubes and uphill conveyors you can ride up and typically have a fun atmosphere with music.
Check with your local outdoor store for information on where to snow tube or sled on public land. Then, bring your own gear for a fun and budget-friendly day. Be sure to find out about needed parking permits before you go.
Known also as cross-country skiing, this is a form of skiing along flatter terrain where skiers get around independently rather than using ski lifts. This is a good option for beginners just starting out with skiing or winter sports.
- Take a lesson with a cross-country ski shop or sign up for a tour. These often include rentals, instruction, and a guided tour.
- Permit Areas or National Forests designated for Nordic or cross-country skiing.
- Find a ski resort with a Nordic Center that offers groomed trails and ski tracks with access tickets.
- Check Nordic trail recommendations on the AllTrails app
Try on and learn how to use gear before you head up to the mountains.
If you are already an experienced skier or snowboarder, then alpine touring may be the new winter sport you are after. Alpine touring or backcountry skiing involves special equipment to climb or skin up hills and then ski or snowboard back down.
Backcountry skiing requires special safety training and experience. Read more about it here: Beginner’s Guide to Alpine Touring.
- Find a backcountry ski tour with the local mountain shop or outdoor adventure shop. These often include gear rental, instruction, and guided tours.
- Ski Resorts often have uphill touring routes that can be used with the purchase of an uphill permit. Check the ski resort trail map before you head out to avoid a confrontation with the ski patrol.
- Join a Backcountry Ski Club and learn with others who share your interests.
- Permit Areas or National Forests designated for backcountry skiing. Look for snowshoes and other winter trail maps at your local outdoor shop.
- Check out backcountry trail recommendations on the AllTrails app.
Practice using the bindings BEFORE climbing the hill to ensure you know precisely how they transition into downhill mode.
As winter sports go, skiing may be the most popular for a good reason: it’s fun, social, and challenging, especially on a powder day. This sport takes time to learn, but you’ll fly down the slopes quickly with practice and a few sessions with a ski instructor. Check out our Beginners Guide to Downhill Skiing.
- Find a ski resort offering package deals, including rental gear, lessons, and lift tickets.
- Look into ski buses that offer package deals and a shuttle bus to the mountains from metro areas. This is a great way to connect and find ski buddies.
- Find a group of other skiers and set up a trip.
Weather can make or break you as a newbie. Try to go up on a day with fresh snow in the past few days and avoid windy or extremely snowy weather.
Are you looking for a winter sport, but skiing isn’t your style? Then maybe snowboarding is a better choice for you. Snowboarding is a great way to enjoy the mountains, be physically active, and spend time with friends, and it can be learned at any age.
Like any sport, it takes time to become proficient, but consistent practice and lessons will shorten the learning curve. Some of the skills are transferable if you already surf, skate, or wakeboard, giving you a head start to snowboarding.
- Check out what your local ski resort offers beginner packages for snowboarding that include gear, lessons, and tickets.
- Book a weekend mountain trip with others interested in snowboarding and learn together.
Educate yourself on the mountain so you have a better knowledge of snowboarding techniques when you are on the mountain. YouTube is an excellent resource with videos, skills to practice, and tutorials.
Fat Tire Biking
You’ve probably seen these bikes around the past few years and wondered what was up with the absurdly big tires. They look cool, but fat tires are designed for riding on compacted snow and can even handle up to a few inches of fresh snow.
Did I mention they work in the sand too? Just as the saying goes, it’s like riding a bike, so if you’ve ridden any bike, you can ride a fat-tire bike.
- Find a local bike or mountain shop to rent these bikes.
- Sign up for a bike ride with a local group to explore the best places to ride.
Find a flat trail with minimal elevation with packed snow and avoid powder days. The bikes start to wallow when the light powder accumulates, which could lead to taking your bike for a walk.
If you are looking for your next adrenaline rush, then this sport is for you. Snowmobiling checks off so many boxes for winter sports, giving you access to terrain otherwise unreachable, access to beautiful vistas few will experience, and a thrill like no other floating over deep powder at speeds that can be over 50 mph.
- For first-timers, consider signing up for a snowmobile tour with a local company that takes groups out and shows you the ropes.
- If you have experience or prefer the DIY approach, rent snowmobiles and head out to explore local snowmobile parks.
The snowmobiles warm up when you are riding them, making for a cozy ride, BUT this means any snow or ice will melt quickly and can absorb into your gear. Ensure your gear is waterproof; otherwise, you may be soaked at the ride’s end.
Are you an experienced camper or backpacker looking to extend your camping season and improve your game? Winter or snow camping provides next-level tranquility as you take in the snowy vistas of mountain landscapes all with the warmth of a campfire – something rarely seen in summers anymore with increased wildfire activity.
It is easier than you may think to stay warm, dry, and comfortable by dressing in layers, and with a few gear upgrades from your summer gear, you’ll be ready to experience all the sweetness winter has to offer.
- Sign up for a trip with your local outdoor shop to learn the basics of snow camping with the safety net of an experienced guide.
- Educate yourself on snow camping using resources at your local outdoor shop, YouTube, and outdoor blogs.
- Find a group of your camping friends and go out for a shakedown trip during mild winter weather. Someplace close to the trailhead with a short hike in.
Not all tents are four-season or sleeping bags, for that matter. Ensure your gear is rated for the temperatures and conditions you will be in.
Scenic Snowcat Tour
Sometimes, taking the scenic route is nice, and a snowcat tour is the next level! Think of a snowcat as a big van crossed with a Mars rover. These mountain beasts can climb steep pitches on tracks that can handle deep snow and blizzard conditions.
All to be enjoyed from a heated cab’s warm, cozy comfort. Usually, you will get a front-row view of the high alpine environment on a cushy seat, but be ready for a bumpy ride.
- Look for group snowcat tours at ski resorts and jump at the opportunity for a sunrise tour.
- Resorts usually offer private tours if you have a large group, special occasion, or event.
- Hire a private operator for a custom backcountry snowcat experience.
Plan to wear snow gear and boots for your ride so you can get out to walk around comfortably to take photos of scenic vistas. Don’t forget your camera and the hot chocolate!
Winter Driving and Trip Preparation
Before you go
- It’s essential always to exercise caution and be prepared for winter weather conditions whenever you plan to venture into the mountains. Check the weather and road conditions before heading out, and make sure you are prepared. Look at our Winter Driving Safety Tips & 16 Emergency Kit Ideas.
Check road conditions: https://tripcheck.com/Pages/Custom-Cameras
Check sno-park permit requirements: https://tripcheck.com/Pages/Sno-Parks-Permits
Find trails and campgrounds for winter closures: https://www.recreation.gov/