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8 Good Reasons to Skip Skiing

Action-oriented alternatives to get you through the winter

(Laurel F/Flickr)

Action-oriented alternatives to get you through the winter

Not a skier? That’s OK. You can still get outside this winter. Here are eight ways to enjoy the snow that don’t involve plunging down a mountainside (on skis, at least.)

Rush a Bobseld Course

(Whiteface Mountain/Flickr)

See what it feels like to be an Olympic bobsledder speeding down a track at 60 miles per hour. In Lake Placid, New York, site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, a professional driver and brakeman will guide you down the track at the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience. In Utah, a pro pilot will lead the way down the official 2002 Olympic track at the Utah Olympic Park.

Join an Organized Snowball Fight

dc snowball association

A snowball fight in the backyard is one thing. But an organized snowball fight with hundreds of people in a city park? Now we’re talking. Last winter, the Washington D.C. Snowball Fight Association organized three official events across the nation’s capital, including one battle staged at night. When a storm hits, you’ll be given a few hours’ notice to get to the chosen location and start lobbing snowballs.

Soak in a Mountaintop Hot Tub

(Trevor Clark/Squaw Valley)

At Squaw Valley, California, you can ride the aerial tram to High Camp, then soak in a mountain-top hot tub at 8,300 feet. You’ll be treated to bubbling jets and views of Lake Tahoe, while skiers and snowboarders slide down the slopes nearby. Afterward, cruise back down the tram and go sip a hot toddy by the fire at the bar at Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn in the village.

Fat Bike on Snowy Singletrack

Snow Biking
Snow Biking Crested Butte, Colorado (Trailsource/Flickr)

We don’t have to tell you that it’s latest hot sport in mountain towns. Fat bikers can ride singletrack all year round and when snow conditions aren’t great for skiing, they’re ideal for hitting the trail on big tires. Rent a bike in Killington, Vermont, from Fat Bike Vermont and take to groomed cross-country trails or pave your own path through the woods. In Jackson, Wyoming, Teton Mountain Bike Tours leads guided fat bike tours (including bike rental) with a hot lunch and wildlife spotting through Grand Teton National Park.

Snowshoe Around a Volcano

(Alec Moore)

Snowshoeing becomes a lot more exciting when you’re looking at something interesting, like bubbling geysers in Yellowstone National Park or the rim of a volcanic crater at Crater Lake National Park. In the winter, rangers at Oregon’s Crater Lake lead two-hour guided snowshoe walks on weekends. Or head to Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park and follow a ranger on a two-hour snowshoe trek up the flanks of the volcano. 

Scale an Ice Wall

(Laurel F/Flickr)

Ouray, Colorado, is the epicenter of ice climbing, but you don’t have to be an elite climber to start sending. Sign up for a private lesson or group clinic geared toward everyone from newbies to experts looking to up their game with San Juan Mountain Guides in the Ouray Ice Park and beyond. Or show up during the Ouray Ice Festival in mid-January to see how the pros do it.

Drive a Litter of Huskies

(Greenland Travel/Flickr)

You and the family can perch in a wooden sleigh while an experienced musher leads a team of Alaskan huskies to pull you through the woods. Or hop into the driver seat at places like Grizzle-T Dog Sledding in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where you’ll learn how to drive your own team of dogs along groomed backcountry trails with the occasional elk sighting.  

Become a Champion Pond Hockey Player

pond hockey

Dust off your hockey skates and sign up for a league. We like the Tivoli Beer Pond Hockey Championships, held in early January on a frozen lake in Evergreen, Colorado. Teams compete for a $1,500 prize purse. A beer company is the lead sponsor of the championships—a positive indicator of good vibes. 

Filed To: Snow Sports / Ice Climbing / Snowshoes
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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