Top Winter Activities Off the Ski Slopes
By Kara Williams
On a week-long ski vacation, chances are you won’t want to ski every day (unless, of course, you’re really hardcore, in which case you have our respect). For the rest of us, mountain resorts nationwide offer a plethora of cool outdoor activities that don’t involve buckling into a pair of ski boots. When you’re ready for a break from the slopes, consider these awesome outdoor activities.
Zip around hairpin turns, fly through open meadows and cruise through pine-tree forest...all on a sled pulled by a team of huskies. In Snowmass, Colorado, Krabloonik Kennels combines a 1.5-hour sled tour with a gourmet lunch in a rustic log cabin. I’m a fan of Good Times Adventures in Breckenridge, where guests actually get to run the dogs; my 7-year-old son even took a turn being the musher!
Even if you don’t skate like Kristi Yamaguchi or Kurt Browning, taking some spins on a mountain ice rink is great way to enjoy a crisp winter day. At night, under the stars or twinkling strung lights, it’s especially romantic to skate hand in hand. Consider the year-round rinks at Sun Valley, Idaho, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, or Beaver Creek, Colorado; the frozen lake at Colorado’s Keystone Resort is an incredible five acres—the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor rink in North America.
The best part about snow tubing at ski resorts is the conveyor-belt lifts that whisk you back up to the top of the hill; no schlepping your inner tube up a steep incline by yourself. It’s sledding made easy! My favorite tubing lanes are at Keystone Resortâ€™s Adventure Point, where "disco tubing" nights are particularly fun, with tunes from the 1970s blasting out of speakers. In Utah, Gorgoza Park at Park City has lanes especially for little tubers. The parks at Killington, Vermont, and Mammoth, California, have snow-play areas for young children who aren’t quite tall enough for the speedy groomed tubing lanes.
On a date in winter wonderland? Snuggle under a blanket on a sleigh pulled by majestic Belgian draft horses in Lake Tahoe, where the Borges Family has been operating sleigh rides for 35 years, with a wintry route that takes guest to a picturesque spot overlooking the sparkling blue lake.
Ziplines and Coasters
Some ski-resort ziplines and alpine coasters remain open in the winter months—just bundle up when planning to fly through the air or race along tracks. Consider Park City’s 4,000-foot Alpine Coaster and Flying Eagle zipline; Breckenridge has a shorter Gold Runner Alpine Coaster. The year-round zipline tour at Smugglerâ€™s Notch in Vermont includes swinging bridges and rappelling stations.
Photo Credits: Dogsledding: Courtesy of Good Times Adventures; Ice Skating: Courtesy of Vail Resorts Management Company; Tubing: Courtesy of Vail Resorts Management Company; Sleigh Rides: Courtesy of Borges Family; Ziplines & Coasters: Courtesy of Smugglers' Notch Resort
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