Warm weather practically begs you to get outside and adventure, but when the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, most of us grudgingly store our gear away and hibernate, impatiently waiting until the first signs of spring. But you don’t have to hide out indoors this winter. And though they may take a little more planning and maybe some extra cold weather gear (three words: comfortable base layer), there are some truly amazing winter adventures to be had.
Alta, Wyoming, is home to the Teton’s Grand Targhee resort. This 2,600-acre ski area, located near the more famous Jackson Hole, is a great base for all kinds of outdoor activities. While skiing and snowboarding are the obvious choices (a one-day lift ticket at Grand Targhee costs $75, $109 online for Jackson Hole), make sure to spend at least one day on a fat snow bike. The bikes, with giant tires for stable riding on the snow and ice, are rented at the resort or in town. Buy a fat biking trail pass ($10) and enjoy the mountain scenery in a way you can’t when zooming down the slopes. To get to Alta, fly into either Jackson Hole or Idaho Falls and rent a car.
Grafton Notch State Park, Maine
December through March, head to Grafton Notch State Park, located in western Maine for some seriously beautiful (and challenging) snowshoeing. Many of the snowshoeing trails follow the Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail and take trekkers up to elevations where they can catch expansive views of the park. For those looking for a more technical activity, Grafton Notch is one of Maine’s most popular ice-climbing destinations. Grafton is a 25-minute drive from the picturesque mountain village of Bethel, which offers many options for lodging and equipment rental.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
The Sea Caves of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are the epitome of a winter adventure. The caves, located in far northwest Wisconsin are only accessible during the winter once Lake Superior has frozen and is deemed safe to cross. In the winter, the caves boast breath-taking ice formations, but you must first hike a mile across the frozen lake to see them ($5/person fee for the park). Stay in the area and try your hand at Nordic skiing along the nearby American Birkenbeiner trail system or downhill skiing at Mt. Ashwabay. To get to Apostle Islands, fly into Duluth, Minnesota, and rent a car. Stay at the stunning Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield, Wisconsin (rooms starting at $140).
Zion National Park, Utah
Utah’s Zion National Park has become very popular with tourists in the summer and fall, due to its breathtaking canyon and red rock formations. Schedule your visit in the winter, when the park is less crowded but still accessible. Zion is at a relatively low elevation and so snow rarely reaches the bottom of the canyon, allowing for hiking year-round. Some of the park’s higher elevations trails are perfect for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. To reach Zion, fly into Las Vegas and drive 2.5 hours to Springdale, Utah. Stay in the park at the Zion Lodge, which offers winter bed and breakfast packages through March (starting at $139/night).