Snowkiting has blown up in the last few years. These days, you can kite-ski or kite-board just about anywhere you can find both snow and wind, but the Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana, and Colorado are good bets to get started. Boise-based Idaho Kite Sports offers a range of beginner courses as well as custom lesson packages.
In Michigan, river rafting isn’t just a summer sport. Big Bear Adventures offers guided winter rafting trips down the flatwater—but fast-moving—Sturgeon River, the swiftest river in the Lower Peninsula. Layer up and drift through fresh-falling snow on a 90-minute float trip. Prices start at $34 per person for groups of six or larger; smaller groups pay a few dollars more.
Plenty of winter festivals across the continent put ice sculptures on display during the festivities—Ottawa’s Winterlude and Quebec City’s Carnival are sure bets—but one of the most impressive options is the World Ice Art Championships, held in Fairbanks, Alaska, each year. The event is divided into single-block and multi-block carving competitions, and spectators can see the actual carving taking place in late February and early March. (After that, the pieces remain on display.)
The 2013 championships begin February 26. A day pass to the Ice Park is $10, or $5 for children six-12; kids under six are admitted free.
Strap on your ice cleats and head into a Narnia-worthy ice wonderland. In Banff, Jasper, and Canmore, a handful of outfits offer guided walks through the frozen-solid river canyons of the Canadian Rockies, past all-natural ice sculptures and waterfalls paused in mid-plunge. Try Maligne Adventures for a three-hour trip along the frozen floor of Maligne Canyon, the deepest in Jasper National Park. Cleats and boots are provided; tours cost $55, or $27.50 for children.
We all need to hibernate once in a while. Ready for some wild winter downtime? Break away from the ski-resort crowds and head to a remote mountain lodge instead.
Alaska’s Winterlake Lodge is 200 miles north of Anchorage on the Iditarod Trail. It’s accessible only by ski plane, and it offers private cabins, a communal main lodge for decadent meals—nightly wine and cheese tastings feature cheeses flown in from Manhattan—and a hot tub with a big mountain view.
Further south, the Emerald Lake Lodge is tucked away inside Yoho National Park, just outside the Alberta mountain town of Lake Louise. The surrounding area is laced with cross-country ski trails, and if you decide to head back into civilization for the day, the Banff, Lake Louise, and Canmore ski hills are all within an easy commute.
Way out east, the Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge brings western mountain style to far eastern Quebec. The lodge office is based in the town of Cap-Chat—from there, lodge staff bring you the rest of the way in by snowcat. Rentals of beacons, snowshoes, splitboards, and touring gear are included in room rates.