Don’t fall into the trap of con­sid­er­ing the win­ter months to be lazy ones. Just because the tem­per­a­ture has dropped just a bit doesn’t mean the excite­ment has to be frozen over as well. In fact, all across the coun­try there are unique adven­ture oppor­tu­ni­ties all thanks to the win­ter fore­casts. Whether it’s explor­ing cli­mate-con­trolled caves or soak­ing in some hot springs, there’s a long list of engag­ing win­ter adven­ture out­ings; here are a few great places to start.

Mega Under­ground Bike Park—Louisville, Kentucky
Tout­ed as the largest indoor bike park on the plan­et, the Mega Under­ground Bike Park is some­thing you have to see for your­self. Locat­ed 100-ft. under­ground in a for­mer lime­stone cav­ern, this new­ly ren­o­vat­ed, amaz­ing under­ground space now hosts over 320,000 square feet of trails, jumps and a nat­u­ral­ly cli­mate con­trolled area for you to bike all win­ter long. Rentals are avail­able, and whether you bor­row one of theirs or bring your own, you’ll find plen­ty dirt to push around down here.

Bre­it­en­bush Hot Springs—Detroit, Oregon
Locat­ed smack dab in the mid­dle of the Willamette Nation­al For­est in the Ore­gon Cas­cades, Bre­it­en­bush Hot Springs Retreat and Con­fer­ence Cen­ter is the per­fect place to put your mind in order after too many cold nights shut­tered inside. Fea­tur­ing work­shops, per­son­al retreats and replen­ish­ment for mind, body and soul, the actu­al hot springs and steam saunas is what keeps Bre­it­en­bush a pop­u­lar win­ter destination.

©istockphoto/SitikkaMaine’s Hut-to-Hut Cross-Coun­try Ski Trails—Kingfield, Maine
For those that thrive in cold­er con­di­tions, the exten­sive 45 miles of trails that con­nect the dif­fer­ent huts found in the wilder­ness of South­east­ern Maine is the place for you. While the ski­ing is fun, the real adven­ture lies with­in the four dif­fer­ent huts oper­at­ed by Maine Huts & Trail, each equipped with hot water show­ers, heat­ed bunk rooms and all the ameni­ties you need to have a good win­ter time. All the huts oper­at­ed in the area are com­mu­nal, so you can expect to meet some oth­er avid win­ter adven­tur­ers, adding a lit­tle body heat to the win­ter warmth.

Lake Supe­ri­or Ice Caves—Bayfield, Wisconsin
As part of the Apos­tle Islands Nation­al Lakeshore, all along the shore­line of Mawik­we Bay in Wis­con­sin are some amaz­ing win­ter mar­vels wait­ing for you to explore. While it is pos­si­ble to pop into a sea kayak and approach the caves by pad­dling, addi­tion­al road and trail access make these daz­zling ice caves a pop­u­lar spot all win­ter long. Prop­er footwear and win­ter appar­el is strong­ly rec­om­mend­ed, and with these nat­ur­al attrac­tions com­prised entire­ly of rock and ice, it pays to always keep your head on a swiv­el and know that con­di­tions are always chang­ing with­in the Lake Supe­ri­or Ice Caves.

©istockphoto/blueyeOuray Ice Park—Ouray, Colorado
Stand­ing as one of the most promi­nent hand-made ice walls in the nation, the Ouray Ice Park in Col­orado not only holds one of the biggest ice climb­ing fes­ti­vals around every Jan­u­ary, but the world-class climb­ing is open to par­tic­i­pants all win­ter long. What that means for you is access to over 200 named climb­ing routes and an entire win­ter sea­son to push your lim­its and improve your ice climb­ing skills. Adja­cent to the tourist-friend­ly city of Ouray, and com­plete­ly free and open for pub­lic use, for your next vis­it to the Ouray Ice Park it’s worth con­sid­er­ing becom­ing an Ouray Ice Park Mem­ber and/or stay­ing in the friend­ly town that helps man­age this exhil­a­rat­ing win­ter attraction.

Intro­duc­to­ry Win­ter Moun­taineer­ing Courses
If you thought explor­ing high alpine areas and moun­tains was a task in the sum­mer, add in some freez­ing tem­per­a­tures and heavy accu­mu­la­tions of snow and you have your­self a real adven­ture. It’s not advised to explore moun­tains in the win­ter if you’re inex­pe­ri­enced and alone, but rather to go with a guide before you ven­ture out on your own. Most intro class­es are rel­a­tive­ly affordable.

The Lost Sea Cave Tour—Sweetwater, Tennessee
For a win­ter-ready retreat under­ground, the Lost Sea Cav­ern in Sweet­wa­ter, Ten­nessee has enough for the whole fam­i­ly to explore. Serv­ing as a Reg­is­tered Nation­al Land­mark, the Lost Sea is America’s largest under­ground lake, and with­in your vis­it you can explore this mag­nif­i­cent nat­ur­al won­der in one of two ways. Dai­ly tours will take you into the cav­ern and across the lake on a glass-bot­tomed boat, but for the true adven­ture, it’s worth your while to form a group and take part in the mul­ti-hour Wild Cave Tour, which will get you on your hands and knees to explore all the nooks and cran­nies the guides can get you through.

The Amer­i­can Birkebeiner—Cable, Wisconsin
Reg­is­tra­tion to par­tic­i­pate in the world-famous Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er in Feb­ru­ary clos­es Novem­ber of the pre­vi­ous year, but even if you missed your oppor­tu­ni­ty to sign up for this gru­el­ing 50 kilo­me­ter cross-coun­try ski race from Cable to Hay­ward, Wis­con­sin, it’s still quite the par­ty to spec­tate. Whether you take part in the race itself, or watch the oth­er events includ­ing a Junior Birkie and Barkie Birkie Ski­jor com­pe­ti­tion, there’s plen­ty of hot cocoa and good cheer at the Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er to go around.

©istockphoto/GibsonPicturesFat Bike in the Tetons—Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming
Set­ting a high bar for win­ter fun and explo­ration, Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming was one of the first ski resorts to wel­come fat bikes onto their Nordic trail sys­tems. While many oth­er ski resorts fol­lowed suit in recent years, Grand Targhee still stands as one of the best places to blow up your tires and cruise through the snow. With access to over 15km of Nordic track avail­able, as well as an addi­tion­al sev­en miles of sin­gle­track trails, you won’t be left with a lot of ener­gy come the evening after ped­al­ing your fat bike (or rental) around Grand Targhee all day.

Sea Kayak­ing off the Baja Cal­i­for­nia Peninsula—Baja, Mexico
For­get the feel­ing of wip­ing snow off your car every morn­ing and head on down to Baja this win­ter. Filled with fresh air and warm weath­er, the best way to explore a vibrant aspect of this envi­ron­ment is to rent a kayak or bring your own and explore the crys­tal-clear waters of the Pacif­ic Ocean. Com­plete with moun­tain views, amaz­ing weath­er and wildlife includ­ing enor­mous hump­back whales, the hard­est part about vis­it­ing Baja and pad­dling around the Baja Cal­i­for­nia Penin­su­la will be pack­ing up your bags to go back home.

Man & Woman Downhill Skiing

Man & Woman Downhill Skiing

We all know the names: Vail, Breck­en­ridge, Park City, and Big Sky. While these ski resorts are indeed epic, some­times you just want a more per­son­al, tucked-away, local expe­ri­ence with­out sac­ri­fic­ing excep­tion­al ter­rain. If this sounds like your MO this ski sea­son, or in ski sea­sons to come, read on!

Eldo­ra Moun­tain Resort, Colorado 
Locat­ed near the funky town of Ned­er­land, Col­orado just 20 min­utes west of Boul­der, Eldo­ra Moun­tain Resort is a local favorite and is under­go­ing some seri­ous upgrades and rebrand­ing. From its new high-speed lift, Alpen­glow, to its effer­ves­cent pres­ence on social media (#closer­toy­ou), this fam­i­ly-friend­ly resort is cer­tain­ly attempt­ing to attract some big atten­tion. With excel­lent begin­ner and inter­me­di­ate ter­rain for kids, or adults who are brave enough to learn, and more advanced ter­rain that includes tight tree ski­ing and steeps that are sure to please, Eldo­ra is per­fect for any­one who desires a no-frills, all thrills, sol­id moun­tain experience.

Monarch Moun­tain Resort, Colorado
Locat­ed between Sal­i­da and Gun­ni­son, Col­orado at the apex of wind­ing and scenic Monarch Pass, Monarch Moun­tain is a tru­ly unique expe­ri­ence. Two ter­rain parks and over 50 trails ensure that there’s plen­ty of space to shred. How­ev­er, this mountain’s crown jew­el is Mirk­wood: 130 acres of extreme dou­ble black dia­mond ter­rain with trees for days. If you’re look­ing for a place to hang your hat after a long day on the slopes, the Monarch Moun­tain Lodge is locat­ed just 3 miles from the resort and boasts a free shut­tle to the mountain.

Grand Targhee Moun­tain Resort, Wyoming
The beau­ti­ful and under­rat­ed Grand Targhee Moun­tain Resort near Alta, Wyoming doesn’t just offer ski­ing. Snow­shoe­ing, Nordic Tour­ing, and dog sled rides are also pop­u­lar on the hill. Per­haps the most notable fea­ture of the hill is Grand Targhee’s tree ski­ing which allows skiers to dip into stash­es of untracked pow­der. There are also 1,000 ski­able acres reserved for cat ski­ing which means you’ll be able to ditch the peo­ple and get into the back­coun­try with ease.

Teton Range viewed from Grand Targhee

White­fish Ski Resort, Montana
Sit­u­at­ed near Glac­i­er Nation­al Park, White­fish Ski Resort used to boast a ski-bum vibe. Now it’s now shift­ing into a more ele­gant, yet still local ski hill with new eater­ies and brew­eries pop­ping up to enter­tain town­ies and tourists alike. Well-known for being fam­i­ly friend­ly, this resort boasts over 3,000 ski­able acres which are plen­ty for the kids and rip­ping adults who want to go explore. Afford­able lodg­ing and min­i­mal crowds make this an excel­lent place for a fam­i­ly getaway

Soli­tude Moun­tain, Utah
True to its name, this qui­et and afford­able moun­tain offers a no-frills expe­ri­ence for peo­ple whose pri­or­i­ty is to ski excel­lent ter­rain. Peri­od. The bowl ski­ing is par­tic­u­lar­ly excep­tion­al with Hon­ey­comb Canyon offer­ing some of the best turns and panoram­ic bowl ski­ing in Utah. For those who do want a lit­tle “frill” in their life, Soli­tude Vil­lage offers excep­tion­al din­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and is a great place to retire for an apres-ski bev­er­age after a day of hit­ting it hard. The Soli­tude com­mu­ni­ty is invit­ing, laid back, and there’s no doubt that the locals will out ski you all the live­long day. Locat­ed just 30 miles from Salt Lake City, this is an acces­si­ble moun­tain for vis­i­tors who pre­fer to be close to a city and airport.

As I write this there rain is pelt­ing on the win­dows. My plans for a ski­ing week­end are melt­ing into a giant pile of mushy slush. It’s mid­win­ter, but the snow sea­son is bare­ly get­ting start­ed. News sto­ries say that win­ter Olympic venues may not have enough snow. As we chomp at the bit for ski sea­son, here are some things you can still do.

Hit the Trails…Hard
Hik­ing isn’t just a sum­mer gig. In fact, it’s bet­ter when you don’t over­heat and the trails are emp­ty. Win­ter tem­per­a­tures can be ide­al for the aer­o­bics of hik­ing or trail run­ning, just as they are for nordic ski­ing. There won’t be traf­fic jams at pop­u­lar trail­heads. Just be ready for short­er days, some rain, and mud on the trails.

Water­falls
If there’s not enough snow to ski there’s prob­a­bly rain, espe­cial­ly in the wet Pacif­ic North­west. Water­falls will be spew­ing water far more dra­mat­i­cal­ly than sum­mer trick­les. Even in spots of the Colum­bia Riv­er Gorge, where some areas are closed from last fall’s wild­fires, there are plen­ty of spots still open, espe­cial­ly on the Wash­ing­ton side.

Hang Out with Large Visitors
Every win­ter, gray whales migrate south from their feed­ing grounds in the Bering Sea to their warmer birthing grounds on the west coast of Mex­i­co. Go to a head­land along the west coast (make sure to dress warm). When the whales head south they tend to be a bit fur­ther off­shore than dur­ing north­bound migra­tion, so you’ll want a spot­ting scope.

Win­ter Birds
Birds gath­er in giant flocks in win­ter. Not all birds head for the trop­ics though. There are ener­gy costs and risks when fly­ing that far. Water­fowl con­gre­gate in the low­land marsh­es and riv­er mouths of North Amer­i­ca after migrat­ing south. Eagles and hawks gath­er to feed on what are lit­er­al­ly sit­ting ducks. The bare trees make it easy to spot them.

Prep the Pile
We all know the dis­or­ga­nized scram­bling of the first ski week­end. You’re try­ing to remem­ber where your wax is or real­iz­ing you pulled ski cloth­ing into dif­fer­ent piles for some oth­er trip. You also don’t know who bor­rowed your gog­gles. Get your stuff togeth­er and wax your skis now so you can grab-and-go when the time comes.

Train
Down­hill ski­ing, snow­board­ing, nordic ski­ing, and skate-ski­ing can be a rude awak­en­ing (or an injury) if you haven’t used those mus­cles since last sea­son. Start work­ing out ear­ly. Even if you wait­ed too long for a 6‑week reg­i­men, it’s bet­ter late than nev­er, and it will train your brain too.

cross country skiing

For any­one that has dis­cov­ered the rhythm of a per­fect cross-coun­try ski glide, espe­cial­ly one that takes you fur­ther into a snow-laden wilder­ness, you know how much sat­is­fac­tion can come from Nordic skiing.

To find some of that sat­is­fac­tion your­self, check out any one of the large-scale Nordic races hap­pen­ing across the coun­try this win­ter. Skate or Clas­sic, what­ev­er style you choose, these events pro­vide the ide­al envi­ron­ment to prac­tice your skills, and serve as a per­fect meet­ing ground for the cross-coun­try ski­ing com­mu­ni­ty that makes the sport so spe­cial. From the Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er in Wis­con­sin to the Methow Val­ley Pur­suit of Wash­ing­ton, with a lit­tle help from these excit­ing cross-coun­try ski­ing events hap­pen­ing all sea­son, you can hap­pi­ly glide through the win­ter. For more infor­ma­tion on the fol­low­ing events and more, be sure to check out the Amer­i­can Ski Marathon Series host­ed by the Amer­i­can Cross Coun­try Skiers (ACXS)

Methow Val­ley Pur­suit, Winthrop, Wash­ing­ton—Jan­u­ary 20th-21st
Back­dropped by the rugged peaks of the North Cas­cade Moun­tains, the town of Winthrop and the near­by Methow Val­ley real­ly comes to life in the win­ter. Fea­tur­ing some of the best snow-laden ter­rain you’ll ever ski through, for the cross-coun­try enthu­si­ast, the two-day Methow Val­ley Pur­suit takes you through it all. As part of the larg­er Methow Val­ley Nordic Fes­ti­val, which includes small­er races and a free-to-enjoy 10K, the Methow Val­ley Pur­suit cov­ers 60 kilo­me­ters in two con­sec­u­tive days, draw­ing in hun­dreds of ath­letes every year to this win­ter wonderland.

City of Lakes Lop­pet, Min­neapo­lis, Min­neso­ta—Jan­u­ary 27th-Feb­ru­ary 4th
Serv­ing as a larg­er cel­e­bra­tion for win­ter in the Twin Cities, the City of Lakes Lop­pet fea­tures a 42-km Ski Marathon and a 21-km Half-Marathon as the cen­ter­piece for all the action. Clas­sic and Freestyle skaters are both able to enter, and every­one is encour­aged to check out the snow sculp­tures, Kubb tour­na­ments and Surly beer gar­den as part of the fes­ti­val. The actu­al Lop­pet itself takes skiers through the beau­ti­ful trails that wind through the nat­ur­al spaces, lakes and frozen land­scapes found with­in the twin cities. Whether you go to race or to find some good cheer against the drop­ping tem­per­a­tures, the City of Lakes Lop­pet gives win­ter the adven­tur­ous tone it deserves.

Alley Loop Nordic Marathon, Crest­ed Butte, Col­orado—Feb­ru­ary 3rd
Wind­ing through the back alley­ways and snow cov­ered streets of Crest­ed Butte, the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon isn’t your aver­age ski race. Begin­ning and end­ing on Main Street in the pros­per­ous moun­tain town of Crest­ed Butte, the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon makes its way through down­town, cross­ing bridges, nar­row alleys and a huge gath­er­ing of fes­tive and cos­tumed spec­ta­tors to cheer you on. Once rac­ers are off the streets and onto the out­skirts the town, a large chunk of this 42-km race is then back­dropped by epic Rocky Moun­tain views to effec­tive­ly cheer you on.

cross country skiing

The North Amer­i­can Vasa, Tra­verse City, Michi­gan—Feb­ru­ary 10th-11th
Locat­ed just west of Tra­verse City in North­ern Michi­gan, the North Amer­i­can Vasa takes place in the lus­cious Tra­verse City State For­est, and pro­vides a com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven day to explore the famous Vasa Path­way. Fea­tur­ing races rang­ing from six-km fam­i­ly events to 51-km freestyle races, as well as long-dis­tance Fat Tire Races, the North Amer­i­can Vasa has appeal for all abil­i­ties of win­ter enthu­si­asts. What­ev­er dis­tance you decide to go, and even if you’re just a spec­ta­tor on the side­lines, the white pines and dense forests of north­ern Michi­gan pro­vide a true win­ter won­der­land to enjoy.

Lake Placid Lop­pet, Lake Placid, New York—Feb­ru­ary 24th
Locat­ed at the site of the 1980 Lake Placid Win­ter Olympics, the Lake Placid Lop­pet offers recre­ation­al and pro­fes­sion­al rac­ers one of the most chal­leng­ing cours­es they’ll find in the east­ern U.S. Thank­ful­ly, rac­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in either the 50-km or 25-km Lop­pets are spurred on by the stun­ning New Eng­land scenery in the cloak of win­ter. A pre­mier event for this region, the Lake Placid Lop­pet has been doing its thing for more than 30 years. After the race, all par­tic­i­pants gain entry to the Cel­e­bra­tion BBQ & Awards event, ensur­ing every rac­er ends on a high note.

The Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er, Cable, Wis­con­sin—Feb­ru­ary 24th
Stretch­ing for 50 kilo­me­ters from Hay­ward, Wis­con­sin, to Cable, Wis­con­sin, the Amer­i­can Birke­bein­er is North America’s largest cross-coun­try ski marathon, and one of the pre­miere events of the entire win­ter sea­son. Tens of thou­sands of skiers line up to tack­le the Birkie each year, and while not all of them make it to the fin­ish­line, every­one has good rea­son to cel­e­brate. Serv­ing more as an enthu­si­as­tic ode to win­ter, the week sur­round­ing this leg­endary event is filled with snow-inspired events includ­ing the Barkie Birkie Ski­jor for the canines and the Barnebirkie for the small­est racers.

Yel­low­stone Ren­dezvous, West Yel­low­stone, Wyoming—March 3rd
Locat­ed in the town of West Yel­low­stone, which serves as a gate­way com­mu­ni­ty into Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park, the Yel­low­stone Ren­dezvous brings togeth­er all types of skiers for a vari­ety of events and races. Whether it’s your first time in the area or you’re a long-time res­i­dent, skiers have the choice between six races rang­ing from a 2K to a 50K at the Yel­low­stone Ren­dezvous. Occur­ring near the end of the ski year, the Yel­low­stone Ren­dezvous can real­ly put a good cap onto the sea­son, and with such prox­im­i­ty to the Nation­al Park, it pro­vides an easy out­let for even more adventure.

Tour of Anchor­age, Anchor­age Alas­ka—March 4th
While some cross-coun­try ski des­ti­na­tions might face dwin­dling snow con­di­tions come March, Anchor­age doesn’t have to wor­ry about that. To tru­ly expe­ri­ence this snow-laden south­ern part of Alas­ka, the Tour of Anchor­age can point you in a few good direc­tions. Fea­tur­ing four dif­fer­ent rac­ing cat­e­gories, includ­ing 25k, 40k and 50k freestyle events, the Tour of Anchor­age lends big views of Mount McKin­ley, prox­im­i­ty to the Pacif­ic Ocean and a vari­ety of trails that line and define the city of Anchor­age. After explor­ing all that Anchor­age has to offer via skis, par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged with a free beer to stay for the after party.

Big Four Ice Caves

From the year-round ice cave near the Ban­dera Caldera to the treach­er­ous ice caves of the Menden­hall Glac­i­er, explor­ing ice caves is an excel­lent spec­ta­tor sport with a notable touch of dan­ger. Ice caves are inher­ent­ly haz­ardous, and respect for the mas­sive mov­ing struc­tures needs to be demon­strat­ed. But fol­low the rules, and some­times fol­low the crowd, and you can enjoy a unique adven­ture this win­ter check­ing out some of Amer­i­ca’s coolest ice caves.

Big Four Ice CavesBig Four Ice Caves—Mt. Bak­er-Sno­qualmie Nation­al For­est, Washington
Accessed from the city of Gran­ite Falls just out­side of Seat­tle, the Big Four Ice Caves with­in the Mt. Bak­er-Sno­qualmie Nation­al For­est is a great place to spec­tate ice cave activ­i­ty. Caused by avalanche run-off and accu­mu­la­tion from the Big Four Moun­tain, the Big Four Ice Caves are ever-chang­ing in appear­ance and struc­ture, and a short trail will take you there. Vis­i­tors are warned not to pro­ceed past the trail that lends a view of the ice caves, and explo­ration with­in or around the caves have led to dead­ly acci­dents in the past. Keep your dis­tance, how­ev­er, and each vis­it to the Big Four Ice Caves can give you some­thing new to appreciate.

Ice Cave and Ban­dera Vol­cano, New Mexico
Locat­ed in north­west­ern New Mex­i­co along the Con­ti­nen­tal Divide, the Ice Cave and Ban­dera Vol­cano is a pri­vate attrac­tion that, with the price of admis­sion, can have you explor­ing two very dif­fer­ent worlds. Ban­dera Vol­cano itself erupt­ed over 10,000 years ago, and today vis­i­tors can climb to the top of the ancient caldera for some killer views. After the caldera trail is con­quered, locat­ed near­by in a col­lapsed lava tube is a year-round Ice Cave. The tem­per­a­ture there nev­er ris­es above 31ºF, so wit­ness­ing the ecosys­tem that has devel­oped down there is well worth the trip

Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreIce Caves and Ice Formations—Pictured Rocks Nation­al Lakeshore, Michigan
Found in the adven­ture-rich Upper Penin­su­la of Michi­gan, Pic­tured Rocks pro­vides the per­fect con­di­tions for stun­ning ice for­ma­tions to grow. Slow melt, frigid tem­per­a­tures, and plen­ty of water all go into cre­at­ing the beefed-up ici­cles on dis­play at Pic­tured Rocks. Find the pop­u­lar path­way to these columns of blue, white, or yel­low ice, and be pre­pared to see for­ma­tions between 20 and 50 feet tall.

Crys­tal Ice Cave—Lava Bed Nation­al Mon­u­ment, California
Locat­ed in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia near the Ore­gon Bor­der, Lava Beds Nation­al Mon­u­ment is home to a rugged envi­ron­ment defined by vol­canic activ­i­ty over the last half-mil­lion years. Home to more than 700 lava-tube caves, there’s plen­ty to explore at this scenic des­ti­na­tion any time of the year. Come win­ter though, the Crys­tal Ice Cave cre­ates some of the most eye-catch­ing ice for­ma­tions with­in the entire mon­u­ment. Because of its frag­ile nature and per­ilous envi­ron­ment, the only way to expe­ri­ence the grandeur found in the Crys­tal Ice Cave is through a guid­ed tour led by the Nation­al Park Service.

Mendenhall Ice CaveMenden­hall Glac­i­er and Ice Caves—Tongass Nation­al For­est, Alaska
For a real­ly rugged ice cave explo­ration, the many ice caves found with­in the Menden­hall Glac­i­er will give you some­thing to brag about. Not only is this far-south­east­ern Alaskan attrac­tion hard to get to, once you’ve made it to the glac­i­er itself the trav­el­ing doesn’t get any eas­i­er. Make the jour­ney to the pho­to­graph­ic Ice Caves with­in the Menden­hall Glac­i­er at your own risk, and you’ll find your­self step­ping into oth­er­world­ly environments.

spring hiking

spring hikingWhen peo­ple think about hik­ing in spring, they imag­ine beau­ti­ful green forests, flow­ing water­falls, bright sun­shine and crisp air, but spring hik­ing comes with its own haz­ards, so be wary. Every sea­son comes with dif­fer­ent chal­lenges and haz­ards, and it is impor­tant to be aware of the haz­ards so that you can stay safe.

Spring may seem beau­ti­ful but weath­er con­di­tions can be errat­ic. Your hike might begin in a warm, sum­mery val­ley, but you may find that after an hour you are walk­ing through heavy rain and snow.

Here are five of the most com­mon spring hik­ing haz­ards so you can stay safe when you are hiking.

Insects
One of the biggest hik­ing haz­ards in spring are the insects and bugs. Fly sea­son nor­mal­ly occurs between spring and ear­ly sum­mer, and if you are unpre­pared you will come home with lots of itchy bites that can take weeks to heal.

You will need to invest in a good insect repel­lent to take with you, and make sure to remove any insects or ticks that you see on your skin while you are hik­ing. You could also rub raw gar­lic on your skin before­hand as it is a nat­ur­al insect repellent!

You should wear long pants, long sleeves and long socks to min­i­mize the like­li­hood of insect bites. You can even tuck your pants into your socks to help keep insects on the out­side of your clothing.

Flood­ing
Water cross­ings can become flood­ed in spring after heavy rains. This means that small streams can turn into rac­ing tor­rents that can eas­i­ly sweep you away. If you are plan­ning a hike, try to avoid water cross­ings unless you know that they are not flood­ed. Cross­ing a flood­ed water stream is very dan­ger­ous, and it is like­ly that you will get wet. This can be a real prob­lem if you are in a cold area as you are more like­ly to con­tract hypothermia.

spring hikingSnow And Ice
Spring may feel much warmer than win­ter, but the moun­tains are nor­mal­ly still cov­ered in snow and ice. Make sure to wear long pants and sleeves if you are hik­ing in spring, and keep your hood up if you are walk­ing under­neath trees that are cov­ered in wet snow. It can also be use­ful to invest in snow shoes if you know that you will be hik­ing a snowy route. You can buy back­packs that are designed to hold snow shoes, which makes it eas­i­er to trans­port them when you are not wear­ing them.

If you are hik­ing an icy trail you should try to do the hike ear­ly in the day, as icy sur­faces are much eas­i­er to walk on when they are still sol­id. You can also buy spikes to help you stay safe as you cross icy paths.

Mud
As the ice and snow start to melt, mud becomes a real haz­ard. Most hik­ing trails are mud­dy dur­ing spring, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t hike. Sim­ply keep to the dri­est part of the trail (nor­mal­ly the mid­dle part), and make sure that you wear water­proof boots; if not your feet will quick­ly get wet!

It can also be use­ful to wear water­proof socks and trousers, as it is very like­ly that you will get wet mud on your ankles and legs. This will help to keep your ankles and legs warm and dry, no mat­ter how mud­dy the trail is. A cheap alter­na­tive: put your feet in plas­tic bags, though we can’t promise you won’t be met with any fun­ny looks.

Hunt­ing Season
Lots of peo­ple assume that hunt­ing sea­son takes place in fall and win­ter, but spring is still hunt­ing sea­son for cer­tain species. Look up your state’s hunt­ing sea­sons to see if your hike takes place in a hunt­ing zone. If you are hik­ing through a hunt­ing zone, make sure to dress in bright col­ors, such as blaze orange, so that you are clear­ly visible.

winter run

winter runWhen the world out­side is cov­ered in snow and ice, most peo­ple slip on a pair of cozy slip­pers and snug­gle close to the fire.

But trail run­ners aren’t “most peo­ple,” and win­try con­di­tions are no excuse to hiber­nate. As the old adage goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather—only unsuit­able clothing.”

That spring race is clos­er than you think and it sure as heck isn’t going to run itself, so grab your shoes (and spikes) and head to the trails.

Spikes: Don’t Leave Home With­out Them
Crampons—or spikes, as many peo­ple call them—are just as essen­tial as your shoes when the trails are cov­ered with ice. You’ll need extra trac­tion to avoid painful bails, par­tic­u­lar­ly on uphill and down­hill sections.

Look for more rugged mod­els that are meant for the trails, which will stand up to uneven ter­rain, slip­pery trails, and ice-cov­ered rock. Coil-type trac­tion devices are typ­i­cal­ly not tough enough to sur­vive a winter’s worth of trail runs. Look for styles with a strap over your foot, which will stay in place, even when you’re well into in the dou­ble-dig­it miles.

Socks: Go Tall
This is most def­i­nite­ly not the sea­son for ankle socks. Not only will your ankles freeze from kicked up snow, but they might also get a lit­tle bloody if you acci­den­tal­ly brush your ankle bones with your spikes (it hap­pens to the best of us). Look for tech­ni­cal socks that will keep your feet toasty and your ankles hap­py in insu­lat­ing, breath­able material.

Lay­ers: The Great Paradox
Dress­ing for a cold-weath­er run in the trails is a lit­tle trick­i­er than sim­ply throw­ing on shorts and a T‑shirt. Strad­dling the line between stay­ing warm and over­heat­ing is eas­i­er said than done, and it’s hard not to over­dress a lit­tle when you know how frigid that first mile will feel.

A thick lay­er of tights is usu­al­ly suf­fi­cient for the bot­tom half, although some pre­fer to lay­er two on par­tic­u­lar­ly blus­tery days. As for the top, start with a meri­no wool base and lay­er as need­ed. It’s easy enough to tie a jack­et around your waist or tuck it into your vest, but avoid the temp­ta­tion to pile on the layers—you’ll heat up faster than you think.

Extrem­i­ties: Pro­tect ‘Em
Don’t for­get about your hands and your head. A good pair of run­ning gloves are well worth the invest­ment. If you feel your­self get­ting too warm, they’re easy to tuck into your run­ning vest or pockets.

Choose a head­band or beanie that’s meant for running—they’ll keep your nog­gin warm with­out turn­ing into a pool of sweat. Don’t for­get a neck warmer to pull up against your face, which is a must-have in windy conditions.

Hydra­tion: Essen­tial, Even if You Don’t Feel Thirsty
You might not think you’re thirsty on a mid-win­ter run, but your body is work­ing mighty hard—especially since it’s try­ing to keep you warm in addi­tion to every­thing else. You might not need as much water as you do in warmer weath­er, but def­i­nite­ly bring some water with you and remem­ber to take a few sips every so often.

Run­ning Com­pan­ions: The Key Ingredient
When con­di­tions are a lit­tle sketchy, it’s always a good idea to run with a friend or two. Despite your best efforts, slips and stum­bles can still hap­pen, espe­cial­ly since ice and obsta­cles are eas­i­ly blan­ket­ed under a lay­er of snow. There’s safe­ty in num­bers, so call your run­ning bud­dies and make a plan. Besides, it’s always eas­i­er to head out the door when you know some­one is wait­ing on you.

winter camping

winter campingDon’t let the cold months keep you from sleep­ing in the moun­tains! Win­ter camp­ing requires more plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion than sleep­ing out­side in the sum­mer, but with these sim­ple tips you can avoid the shiv­er-bivy and camp in style all year round.

Plan Ahead
A suc­cess­ful win­ter camp­ing trip begins long before you hit the trail­head. Pick a mod­er­ate des­ti­na­tion, stay­ing close to a road if it’s your first time sleep­ing out in snow. Watch the weath­er fore­casts care­ful­ly, and con­sid­er being flex­i­ble with tim­ing or hav­ing a Plan B in case of an apoc­a­lyp­tic storm front. Learn to rec­og­nize and avoid avalanche-prone areas, and check the local fore­casts before you go. If you’re trav­el­ing through or camp­ing on any snowy slope that’s pitched more steeply than 20 degrees, your crew should have avalanche training.

Plan Your Site
Once you get to your camp­site, look around before you pitch your tent. Where will you be the most shel­tered from the wind? Is there any over­head hazard—snow-covered tree limbs, ice, or rocks that could fall? When the team has agreed, pitch the tent togeth­er, mak­ing sure that some­body always has a hand on every piece of the tent so noth­ing blows away. And be very care­ful about where you put things down in deep snow, because it’s eas­i­er than you might think to lose a glove, tent pole, or camera.

Get Off The Ground
If there’s one key to stay­ing warm while camp­ing on snow, it’s this: do what­ev­er you can to insu­late your­self from the cold stuff, which sucks the heat of your body. Con­sid­er bring­ing two sleep­ing pads—an inflat­able pad for com­fort and a closed-cell foam mat for insulation—and make sure your sys­tem has an R‑value of at least 5. Try not to sit direct­ly on snow or ice either; opt to sit on a back­pack instead.

Make Water
It seems counter-intu­itive, but when you’re camp­ing on snow it can often be hard to find run­ning water. If you’re not pos­i­tive that you’ll have access to a lake or stream for potable agua, be pre­pared to melt your own. If there’s enough sun­light, you can make a solar still out of a black plas­tic trash bag; oth­er­wise, crank up your stove. Just be sure to put a lit­tle water in the pot before you add snow, because—believe it or not—it’s actu­al­ly pos­si­ble to scorch snow and ice, which will leave your water with a burned taste.

Keep Elec­tron­ics Warm
Any­thing with a lithi­um-ion battery—including smart­phones, cam­eras, tablets, recharge­able GPS devices, GoPros, etc.—will lose charge when exposed to cold tem­per­a­tures. To pro­tect your battery’s usable charge, keep small devices and extra bat­ter­ies in a chest pock­et where they’re close to the warmth of your body, and tuck them into your sleep­ing bag at night. Min­i­mize expo­sure to cold air, and car­ry back-up bat­ter­ies for any­thing essential.

Always leave a detailed trip plan and emer­gency con­tact infor­ma­tion with some­body at home. Dou­ble-check that you have the ten essen­tials. And always be extra cau­tious when you’re out­side in the win­ter months.

Dur­ing the cold­er months of the year, it can be tough to gar­ner the strength to head out­doors for a win­ter adven­ture, but for those look­ing to brave the cold while also hop­ing to par­take in a more relax­ing form of out­door adven­ture, hot springs are what you need. Here’s a short list of some stuff you might want to bring along.

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Water Bot­tle
This could be an easy one to for­get since you’re lit­er­al­ly head­ing to a body of water, but mak­ing sure to bring a water bot­tle is often times eas­i­er said than done. Plus don’t for­get you can’t drink the water at most hot springs, not that you’d want to since it’s pip­ping hot, so make sure to pack in water. And if it’s allowed it’s always nice to have a few cold ones while you and your friends soak.

San­dals
Maybe you’re trekking into a hot spring from far out, or maybe it’s snowy, but once you get there you’ll be glad you brought some extra footwear. Many hot springs are often out in the woods and the pools have been built into exist­ing rock struc­tures, where the ground can be unsta­ble, rocks can be sharp, and you nev­er know what you’re gonna get.  It can be nice to have some extra footwear to slip into for soaking.

Head­lamp
If you’re head­ing out dur­ing the win­ter months you’ll know that the sun tends to set pret­ty ear­ly dur­ing this time of year. The last thing you want is to be hik­ing all the way back out to the trail­head in the pitch black. Bring a headlamp.

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Bathing Suit (option­al)
Poten­tial­ly the most impor­tant item for your soak­ing expe­ri­ence. Sure there’s a hand­ful of the soak­ing hot springs out there that are cloth­ing option­al, but hey let’s be hon­est that isn’t for most of us. You’ll prob­a­bly want a bathing suit, so bring a bathing suit.

Blue­tooth Speaker
This is a “use at your own judg­ment” rec­om­men­da­tion. Chances are if you’re going out to pop­u­lar hot springs and there are a lot of peo­ple around they might not want to hear your tunes. Be polite, ask first, and respect oth­ers. With that being said, there’s no harm in break­ing out the jams when the time is right.

Back­pack
Prefer­ably a day­pack, but if you’re going for a long dis­tance hike to some springs you’ll obvi­ous­ly want a back­pack­ers bag. The trusty back­pack is the surest way to remem­ber that you don’t for­get all your oth­er essen­tials, water bot­tle, tow­el, bathing suit, you name it.

Tow­el
Nobody wants to stand around in the freez­ing cold wait­ing to air dry, make sure to pack your tow­el so the sec­ond you get out you can get warm and dry.

©istockphoto/BraunSIf you’ve stepped out­side late­ly (or just turned on the news) you know that most of North Amer­i­ca is right in the mid­dle of win­ter. And, while win­ter sports enthu­si­asts are rejoic­ing at the chance to cut new lines in all the fluff, the more sum­mer inclined among us are retreat­ing indoors.

But, not to wor­ry, there’s plen­ty of adven­ture to be had from the couch, the garage or in front of the fire. So, if you’re look­ing to get your adven­ture fix from the safe­ty and warmth of the great indoors, here are some things you can do.

Stream some adven­ture flicks
Kick back and “Net­flix and Chill,” as the kids are sayin’ these days. Because when it comes to adven­ture cin­e­ma, there’s no short­age of great films to keep you engaged and enthralled. For the doc­u­men­tary-enthu­si­asts out there, check out “Touch­ing the Void” an incred­i­ble sto­ry of sur­vival against extreme con­di­tions or watch “Desert Run­ners” for a glimpse into the jour­ney of three run­ners attempt­ing a series of three sep­a­rate ultra­ma­rathons in three dif­fer­ent desserts. Of course, for those of you look­ing for a lit­tle more fan­ta­sy with your adven­ture, check out (or more like­ly re-check out) everyone’s favorite moun­tain thriller “Ver­ti­cal Limit”.

Trans­port your­self with the writ­ten word
Go ahead, live vic­ar­i­ous­ly through your favorite author and read har­row­ing tales of adven­ture, sur­vival, and man (or woman) against nature. There’s plen­ty to choose from as this genre con­tin­ues to grow in pop­u­lar­i­ty. And, whether you opt for the clas­sic Jon Krakauer, or want to explore some oth­er authors, a lit­tle men­tal escape from the con­fines of home could be just the tick­et. Some of our favorites include “Buried in The Sky” by Peter Zuck­er­man and Aman­da Padoan, “A Long Trek Home” by Erin McKit­trick, or “West by The Night” by Beryl Markham.

Take care of your gear
Checked on your gear room, that cor­ner of your garage, or the trunk of your car late­ly? If not, take advan­tage of your indoor time by sort­ing through, orga­niz­ing, and gen­er­al­ly car­ing for your gear. Trust us, that old down jack­et smells fun­ny for a rea­son and there’s no bet­ter time to rid it of that post-adven­ture funk. Be sure to opt for a deter­gent specif­i­cal­ly for­mu­lat­ed for adven­ture appar­el and give it a good scrub. Also, use this time to take inven­to­ry. Sim­pli­fy by pass­ing on gen­tly used gear to a friend or toss­ing bro­ken gear in the garbage. You’ll thank your­self when the clouds part and you’re able to quick­ly find what you need for adventuring.

Improve your skills
Tying knots, work­ing on your grip, or read­ing up on the lat­est research about your favored sport are all great ways you can spend time improv­ing your craft. The best part? You can do them all from the couch! By keep­ing items like a cordelette and a grip strength­en­er on hand, you’ll make sure to max­i­mize your time inside.

Tend to your body
You go hard all year. Trail run­ning, ski­ing, climbing—they’re all hard on the body. When was the last time you took 30 min­utes to stretch your mus­cles or give the ten­dons some atten­tion with a good foam roll? If you’re like many, it’s prob­a­bly been a while. Take some time in the cool­er temps to do some indoor stretch­ing. Or, if a solo stretch sesh isn’t your jam, head to a yoga class—studies show it reduces stress and the like­li­hood of injury by get­ting you lim­ber and ready for your next bout of adventure.

ski suncare

ski suncareIt’s the time of year for fluffy pow­der, fresh turns, brisk moun­tain air—and gog­gle tans, dry skin, and chapped lips. As you’re hit­ting the slopes this sea­son, keep these tips in mind.

Sun Pro­tec­tion Is Key
You’ve heard the warn­ings about wear­ing sun­screen before, but they’re more impor­tant than ever dur­ing the win­ter months—especially when you’re on snow or ice, which has a unique­ly high albe­do, or reflec­tive­ness. In oth­er words, while you might be used to pro­tect­ing your skin from radi­a­tion com­ing from above, when you’re on the slopes you need to con­sid­er radi­a­tion from below. Use an SPF of 45 or more on your face, neck, ears, and hands. If you’ll be in wet con­di­tions, use a water­proof sun­screen or a for­mu­la specif­i­cal­ly designed for high-alti­tude sports. On par­tic­u­lar­ly sun­ny days, con­sid­er using a buff, face mask, and/or brimmed hat to min­i­mize radi­a­tion. If you’re feel­ing zeal­ous, look into a nose cover—they attach to your gog­gles or sun­glass­es, pro­tect­ing your sen­si­tive schnoz.

Don’t For­get Your Lips
Always, always, always use a lip balm with SPF. Accord­ing to a recent study by the Amer­i­can Soci­ety for Der­ma­to­log­ic Surgery, only 6% of Amer­i­cans are aware that ultra­vi­o­let rays can cause lip can­cer. The study also revealed that men in North Amer­i­ca have 5–10 times greater inci­dence of lip can­cer than women. The take­away? Pro­tect your pout. Every. Sin­gle. Time. To remind your­self, stash tubes of lip balm in mul­ti­ple places—your jack­et pock­ets, your car, your ski bag, etc.

Stay Hydrat­ed
Healthy skin requires mois­ture, and prop­er hydra­tion comes from the inside out. Cold air can mask symp­toms of thirst, mak­ing you less like­ly to remem­ber to sip water con­sis­tent­ly through­out the day. And the air is espe­cial­ly dry at high alti­tude and in heat­ed lodges, mak­ing water con­sump­tion even more impor­tant. To stay hydrat­ed, don’t guzzle—sip water con­sis­tent­ly through­out the day, mod­er­ate your caf­feine and alco­hol con­sump­tion, and choose fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles (rather than dried or processed food) when­ev­er possible.

Lim­it Hot Showers
And hot tubs. No mat­ter how good a hot soak sounds after a long day out­doors, scald­ing water strips skin of nat­ur­al oils, leav­ing your skin dry and del­i­cate. Try to keep show­ers rel­a­tive­ly quick. Use warm water, not scalding.

If You Do Get Sunburned
If you do get too much sun, be very care­ful about re-expos­ing the dam­aged skin to the ele­ments. Mois­tur­ize, stay hydrat­ed, and use very gen­tle skin care prod­ucts until the skin is healed. Con­sid­er zinc oxide on any exposed skin on your face, and keep in mind that your tem­per­a­ture reg­u­la­tion might be com­pro­mised. And always remem­ber: pre­ven­tion is key.

snowshoeing

snowshoeingDo you love to hike but hate the short sea­son? This win­ter, try strap­ping on a pair of snow­shoes to play out­side all year round.

Rent Before You Buy
There are a vari­ety of makes and mod­els avail­able, and most snow­shoes will work for most peo­ple. But because they’re often so cheap to rent—in some places, less than $10/day—it’s worth test­ing out a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent mod­els. Broad­ly speak­ing, you’ll want to exper­i­ment with plas­tic ver­sus alu­minum mate­ri­als, dif­fer­ent kinds of bind­ings, a vari­ety of sizes, and snow­shoes with dif­fer­ent intend­ed uses (some are made for aerobic/fitness; oth­ers are made more for backpacking).

Don’t for­get the poles
Poles aren’t required, of course, but they’re extra­or­di­nar­i­ly handy on most terrain—and they’ll let you get an upper body work­out, too. Look for mod­els with adjustable lengths, large/interchangeable bas­kets, and easy-to-use hand straps that work with gloves or mit­tens. Short­en poles when you’re trav­el­ing uphill, and length­en them for descents. If you’re sidehilling—crossing slopes—make the down­hill pole longer.

6djde6movxm-alec-mooreDress in layers
Remem­ber: no mat­ter how light­heart­ed the activ­i­ty, plan­ning a day in the moun­tains in the win­ter requires plan­ning. Avoid cot­ton, and dress in lay­ers so that you can adjust as the weath­er and your activ­i­ty lev­el change. Syn­thet­ic and wool base lay­ers wick mois­ture away from your body and retain heat even when they’re damp, and fleece breathes well with aer­o­bic activ­i­ties. Hats, gloves, socks, and face shields should all be made of mate­ri­als that insu­late when wet. Always car­ry a water­proof shell and pants, and car­ry an extra lay­er or two in case any­thing unex­pect­ed hap­pens. Know the signs and symp­toms of hypother­mia, and keep a close eye on all mem­bers of your party.

Be con­sid­er­ate of oth­er users
Often snow­shoers will find them­selves trav­el­ing on or over­lap­ping with cross-coun­try skiers or back­coun­try board­ers. Many of those users will be trav­el­ing in a man—or machine-made track, and it’s con­sid­ered good eti­quette for snow­shoers to put in their own trail when­ev­er pos­si­ble. Skiers have the right of way on most trail sys­tems since it’s eas­i­er for a snow­shoer to step off the trail safe­ly than it is for a ski­er to stop or go around. Uphill trav­el­ers usu­al­ly have the right of way too, though be aware of whether a down­hill ski­er is capa­ble of avoid­ing you. Always be polite to fel­low back­coun­try users, and don’t be shy about ask­ing about local reg­u­la­tions and customs.

Get cre­ative
Inter­est­ed in hit­ting the trails, but don’t know where to start? Look for local class­es through out­door stores or hiking/mountaineering clubs, and con­sid­er invest­ing in a book about snow­shoe trails in your area. Many cross-coun­try ski resorts wel­come snow­shoers for a small fee, and some states main­tain pub­lic sno-parks that are plowed and close to trails. Once you’re more con­fi­dent, ven­ture out to any trail you’d hike the sum­mer. Look for mapped routes, nation­al forests and state parks, and snow­shoe-spe­cif­ic destinations.

If you’re plan­ning a camp­ing trip out to the mid­dle of nowhere, you’ll need to think ahead about your sleep­ing strat­e­gy. Nights in the wild quick­ly get mild. These tips will keep you sleep­ing warm in the backcountry.

campers sleeping warm in backcountry

Prepa­ra­tion is Everything
Research starts before you leave for your trip. Google the weath­er fore­cast of where you’ll be, as well as the his­tor­i­cal weath­er pat­terns for the same sea­son in pre­vi­ous years. Know­ing what to expect can make all the dif­fer­ence in how pre­pared you are.

When you get to your camp­site, look around for the best place to set up camp—you want a flat, dry, durable sur­face that’s pro­tect­ed from the wind. Pitch your tent and stake it out well. Then, before you do any­thing else, set up your sleep­ing sys­tem. Inflate your sleep­ing pad and lay out your sleep­ing bag, so that the down or syn­thet­ic insu­la­tion can ful­ly recov­er all of its loft before bed­time. If you’re a cold sleep­er in a tent with three or more peo­ple, try to sleep between your tent mates (rather than on one side.)

Insu­late Your­self from the Ground
When it comes to being warm, sleep­ing bags are only half of the equa­tion. Edu­cate your­self about R‑values, which are used to mea­sure a sleep­ing pad’s abil­i­ty to insu­late. The high­er the R‑value, the warmer you’ll be. If you’re a cold sleep­er or will be trav­el­ing in extreme cli­mates, con­sid­er using two sleep­ing pads.

Wear the Right Layers
When­ev­er pos­si­ble, put on dry clothes before bed. Avoid cot­ton, and opt for wool or syn­thet­ic instead. Wear a warm hat, socks, and what­ev­er oth­er lay­ers feel good. And that old wives’ tale about how it’s warmer to sleep naked? It only works if you start sweat­ing. As a best prac­tice, if you’re cold put on more layers.

Remem­ber that Sleep­ing Bags Pro­vide Insu­la­tion, Not Heat
Think of an insu­lat­ed cool­er: if you put in some­thing warm, it’ll stay warm; if you put in some­thing cold, it’ll stay cold. So instead of crawl­ing into your sleep­ing bag when you’re cov­ered in goose­bumps, try pre-warm­ing your body. Do jump­ing jacks, push-ups, what­ev­er gets your blood pump­ing enough to raise your core temperature.

Min­i­mize Emp­ty Space
Your body is work­ing hard to heat the air inside your sleep­ing bag, just like a space heater inside a clos­et. The more emp­ty space, the hard­er your body has to work. Try stuff­ing dry jack­ets or cloth­ing inside your bag to fill emp­ty spaces, or tuck extra baf­fles under­neath your body to make the sleep­ing bag smaller.

If you have a mum­my bag, make sure the hood is cov­er­ing your head and cinch the open­ing around your face.

Make Your­self a Hot Water Bottle
If you have the resources, there’s noth­ing cozi­er than a plas­tic bot­tle filled with hot water. Just make sure it’s sealed tight­ly, and dou­ble-check that your bot­tle is BPA-free before drink­ing the water in the morning.

Eat Before Bed
Your body expends lots of ener­gy gen­er­at­ing heat, and a small bed­time snack can pro­vide fuel for the long night ahead. Just avoid sug­ar, and opt for high-pro­tein, high-fat foods like nuts, seeds, or avocados.

Before there were hot tubs, and even before there were bath­tubs, there were hot springs. Hot springs are, though the def­i­n­i­tion is infa­mous­ly debat­ed, nat­ur­al pools filled with geot­her­mal­ly heat­ed ground­wa­ter that has risen from the crust of the Earth to form pock­ets of warm water all around the plan­et. While many of these springs are obvi­ous­ly too hot for human con­tact, think Old Faith­ful, many are just right for soak­ing. In hon­or of this age-old tra­di­tion, and because we all need a lit­tle thaw­ing out this time of year, we’re fea­tur­ing a hand­ful of hot springs that would make great win­ter escapes, all with­in the US.

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Mead­ows Hot Springs — Utah
These hot springs are tucked away in a moun­tain pas­ture just 2 hours out­side Salt Lake City, Utah. With the moun­tains as your back­drop, they make the per­fect place to let loose after a long day hik­ing or riding.

Crab Cook­er Hot Springs — California
These hot springs are a lit­tle hit or miss, often times being too hot for humans to soak, and the name says it all (it comes from the fact that they can lit­er­al­ly get hot enough to cook a crab). But when the tem­per­a­ture is just right, this pool can be the per­fect place to soak after a week­end up at Mam­moth Moun­tain, which is just a half hour away, plus the views are not to be missed. 

Dun­ton Hot Springs — Colorado
Not all hot springs are for those look­ing to rough it. Dun­ton has gained its rep­u­ta­tion by being one of the nicest hot springs resorts the states has to offer. Just across the moun­tain from Tel­luride, this resort is a great oasis for those look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle nicer, per­haps a cab­in with a nice fire­place. And if you can cough up $19,000, you can even rent the whole resort.

Conun­drum Hot Springs — Colorado
Though it is also in Col­orado, Conun­drum Hot Springs are basi­cal­ly the oppo­site of Dun­ton Hot Springs. Tucked away in a remote moun­tain val­ley in between Crest­ed Butte and Aspen, to access these springs there is a gru­el­ing 8.5‑mile hike, and that’s just one way. Not to men­tion it’s much hard­er in the win­ter, but don’t be deterred, these are some of the nicest springs in Col­orado, with com­mand­ing views of the Rockies.

Bag­by Hot Springs — Oregon
Tucked away in Mt Hood Nation­al For­est these hot springs are sur­pris­ing­ly well main­tained for how remote they are. The wood­en pools are reserv­able for per­son­al use, and for groups, just make sure to get there ear­ly, they tend to fill up quickly.

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Pho­to by Suzie Gotis

Sykes Hot Springs — California
These hot springs are a lit­tle more par­ty friend­ly than most, though many have tried in recent years to clear the trail of any unfriend­ly debris. How­ev­er, that does­n’t mean these hot springs aren’t a must see and com­pared to many oth­er hot springs you’ll vis­it in win­ter, these ones are prob­a­bly going to be snow free, see­ing as they’re locat­ed right near the icon­ic, Big Sur, CA, which is beau­ti­ful any time of year. 

Straw­ber­ry Park Hot Springs — Colorado
These hot springs are just out­side Steam­boat Springs and are inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the his­to­ry of the city. When James Har­vey Craw­ford first sur­veyed the area in 1874 he based the via­bil­i­ty of build­ing a town there on the hot springs. Since then the area has flour­ished and Straw­ber­ry Park is now a pri­vate­ly owned com­mer­cial bathing spring, though it still main­tains its rus­tic aura, this is one of the nicest places to soak west of the con­ti­nen­tal divide.
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©istockphoto/zschnepf

©istockphoto/zschnepfHere are sev­en unusu­al things you can do this win­ter to embrace the Northwest’s most maligned sea­son. How unusu­al they are, of course, depends on how unusu­al you are already.

Vary the Ski Routine
Let’s face it, while many of us wait around for the win­ters to be over, a lot of us are secret­ly hop­ing they nev­er end.  While it lasts, we rec­om­mend mix­ing up your ski rou­tine. Are you a die-hard down­hiller? Quit rid­ing the lifts and try back­coun­try free-heel tour­ing. A tried-and true cross coun­try ski­er? Inves­ti­gate skate ski­ing, or try rid­ing the lifts and see what you can do with your heels down. Go dif­fer­ent places. Do dif­fer­ent things.

Hit The Water
Pad­dling might seem like a sum­mer sport, but pad­dling is often at its best in the North­west in win­ter. White­wa­ter rivers are ris­ing after the long sum­mer drought. The Low­er Colum­bia Riv­er Water Trail, which can be crowd­ed in sum­mer, offers soli­tude, bald eagles and hordes of waterfowl.

Hang Out By the Sea
While every­one else is head­ing for the moun­tains, go the oth­er direc­tion. Head for the coast. Raw and rugged , you’ll see things you won’t often see in sum­mer: emp­ty beach­es, big storms, raw ocean pow­ers. Yes, there will be some rain. But we’re Northwesterners.

Get Wet In the Gorge
For­get the skis and go for a sim­ple hike. Lay­er on the rain gear, and don’t for­get that the Colum­bia Gorge and moun­tain foothill trails are at their best in the win­ter. The water­falls will be full, dra­mat­ic, and at their cat­a­clysmic best. Hik­ing in win­ter is just like hik­ing in sum­mer, but with more clothes and a ther­mos of tea.

Try a Weird Win­ter Sport
Go whole-hog into win­ter. Try some weird win­ter sports, like dogsled­ding, ski­jor­ing, shov­el rac­ing, ice-climb­ing or a polar bear plunge. Some of them are just strange, some require spe­cial­ized skills or gear, and may take some hunt­ing to fig­ure out how to do or what they real­ly are. But try one.

Sit On The Porch
We get a lot less fresh air in the win­ter, and that can’t be good for us. Tempt­ing as it is to hud­dle inside, make part of your morn­ing rit­u­al going out­side. Use all that fan­cy out­door tech­ni­cal cloth­ing to do the most basic of out­door activ­i­ties: sit­ting on your front porch. It will be a bit chilly at first, but you’ll be hap­pi­er the rest of the day.

Be A Kid Again
Last but far from least, redis­cov­er the win­ter you loved as a kid. For­get about care­ful­ly tun­ing your skis and go romp in the snow. Have snow­ball fights. Build snow forts. Climb up a hill and tum­ble down or slide down on a makeshift sled. Have fun. Redis­cov­er the sim­ple joys of hors­ing around out­side in the snow.

©istockphoto/floop

Noth­ing com­pletes the win­ter expe­ri­ence more than the scent of a hearty meal waft­ing from the kitchen. And what­ev­er high-inten­si­ty win­ter sport you choose this snowy sea­son, make sure to back it up with a fill­ing meal from the depths of your crock-pot. Whether it’s ski­ing, climb­ing El Cap­i­tan, or snow­shoe­ing your way up a moun­tain, use any one of these 5 recipes col­lect­ed from crock-pot cooks around the web to warm up your winter.


Loaded Hash Browns
Recipe Pro­vid­ed by Bet­ter Homes and Gardens

Cook Time: 4 ½ (high) – 9 (low) hours

Noth­ing starts a day bet­ter than some Loaded Hash Browns and a big cup of cof­fee. The best part—start this recipe right before bed­time and you’ll wake up to an easy-to-serve break­fast of champions.

1Ingre­di­ents

  • 8 ounces uncooked bulk turkey sausage
  • 8 ounces uncooked ground turkey breast
  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 5 cups frozen diced hash brown potatoes
  • 1 cup shred­ded reduced-fat Mex­i­can blend cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped red sweet pep­per (1 large)
  • 1 4‑ounce can (drained weight) sliced mush­rooms, drained
  • 1 medi­um fresh poblano pep­per, seed­ed and chopped
  • 1  10.75-ounce can con­densed fies­ta nacho cheese soup
  • ¼ cup of water
  • Shred­ded reduced-fat Mex­i­can blend cheese (option­al)
  • Thin­ly sliced fresh jalapeño pep­per (option­al)
  • Sal­sa and/or light sour cream (option­al)
  • Dis­pos­able slow cook­er liner

Direc­tions

  1. In a large skil­let cook sausage, turkey, and onion over medi­um until sausage is brown. Drain off fat.
  2. Using slow cook­er lin­er, line a 5–6 quart slow cook­er. Com­bine sausage mix­ture, hash browns, 1 cup of cheese, sweet pep­per, poblano pepper.
  3. In a medi­um bowl com­bine soup and water. Pour over hash brown mix­ture in the slow cook­er and stir.
  4. Cov­er and cook on low heat for 8–9 hours or on high heat for 4–4 ½ hours.
  5. Stir before serv­ing, add option­al top­pings, enjoy.

Warm Spinach Dip
Recipe Pro­vid­ed by Crock-Pot Ladies.com

Cook Time: 3 Hours

Be the win­ner of your next win­ter gath­er­ing by fol­low­ing this easy recipe for Warm Spinach Dip. And with enough spinach to give Pop­eye a run for his mon­ey, this is a great addi­tion to any high-inten­si­ty win­ter work­out you might have planned.

2Ingre­di­ents

  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 8 ounces shred­ded moz­zarel­la cheese
  • 1 cup grat­ed parme­san cheese
  • 1 8‑ounce pack­age cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • ½ yel­low onion, chopped
  • 1 table­spoon minced garlic
  • ¼ tea­spoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ tea­spoon of sea salt
  • ½ tea­spoon of fresh­ly cracked black pepper

Direc­tions

  1. Com­bine all ingre­di­ents in a large bowl and toss to com­bine. The mix­ture is going to be dry because of all the fresh spinach, almost like a salad.
  2. Put the mix­ture into a 3–4 quart crock-pot.
  3. Cov­er and cook on low for 1 ½ hour.
  4. Open the lid and give every­thing a stir.
  5. Cov­er again and cook an addi­tion­al 1 to 2 hours till every­thing is creamy and the spinach has cooked down.

Lasagna Soup
Recipe Pro­vid­ed by Fam­i­ly Fresh Meals.com

Cook Time: 6 Hours

Before you go on your epic snow­shoe adven­ture, start this crock-pot Lasagna Soup recipe and come home to a deli­cious meal that deliv­ers a big punch. Per­fect for din­ner and left­overs, dou­ble the recipe for dou­ble the fun.

3Ingre­di­ents

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 4–5 cloves of gar­lic, minced
  • 1 table­spoon dried parsley
  • 1 table­spoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 6‑ounce can of toma­to paste
  • 1 cup V8 (or any veg­etable drink)
  • 2 cups uncooked shell pasta
  • 1/4 tea­spoon pepper
  • 1/4 tea­spoon salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • Option­al top­ping- shred­ded cheese

Direc­tions

  1. Mix togeth­er the can of toma­toes and toma­to paste in the crockpot.
  2. Next add broth, beef, gar­lic, pars­ley, basil, onion, V8, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cov­er and cook on low for 7–8 hours or on high for 4–5 hours.
  4. When 30 min­utes are left of cook time, add in the 1 cup of water and noo­dles. Stir to com­bine. Put the lid back on and con­tin­ue cook­ing for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Corned Beef and Cabbage
Recipe Pro­vid­ed by Food Network.com

Cook Time: 9 Hours

Just the name alone makes you want to drool. That’s because this clas­sic Corned Beef and Cab­bage recipe is a savory con­coc­tion that even the most loathing cab­bage haters have to enjoy. Ask your butch­er about the corned beef you want and make some new friends with this recipe.

4Ingre­di­ents

  • One 4‑pound piece corned beef brisket, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red­skin pota­toes, halved
  • 4 car­rots, cut into 2‑inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2‑inch wedges
  • 2 stalks cel­ery, peeled and cut into 2‑inch pieces
  • 1/2 small head green cab­bage, core intact and cut into thick wedges
  • 12 ounces stout beer
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup pre­pared horseradish
  • 2 table­spoons whole-grain mustard
  • 3 table­spoons unsalt­ed butter
  • Kosher salt and fresh­ly ground black pepper
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup loose­ly packed pars­ley leaves, chopped
  • 2 table­spoons pick­ling spice

Direc­tions

  1. Lay­er pota­toes, car­rots, onions, cel­ery and thyme in a 6‑quart slow cook­er. Add in the brisket, beer, and pick­ling spice. Add enough water to just cov­er the brisket. Cov­er and cook on low until ingre­di­ents are ten­der (about 8 hours).
  2. Arrange the cab­bage over the brisket, not wor­ry­ing about over­crowd­ing, and cook until soft or wilt­ed (45 min­utes to an hour+).
  3. Whisk togeth­er sour cream, horse­rad­ish, and mus­tard in a small bowl.
  4. Remove the cab­bage and toss with 1 table­spoon of but­ter and pep­per to taste. Remove the meat and let rest. Strain the remain­ing veg­eta­bles (save some of the broth for serving).
  5. Eat!

All-Day Apple Butter
Recipe Pro­vid­ed by All Recipes.com

Cook Time: 12 Hours

Some­thing about Apple But­ter and rock climb­ing seems to be a good match. Maybe it’s because this easy to pack and deli­cious spread deliv­ers every­thing you could want as you post up next to the crag. Eat some right away and freeze the rest for a winter’s share of deli­cious apple butter.

5Ingre­di­ents

  • 5 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and fine­ly chopped
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 2 tea­spoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tea­spoon ground cloves
  • ¼ tea­spoon salt

Direc­tions

  1. Place the apples in a slow cook­er. In a medi­um bowl, mix the sug­ar, cin­na­mon, cloves, and salt. Pour the mix­ture over the apples in the slow cook­er and mix well.
  2. Cov­er and cook on high 1 hour.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stir­ring occa­sion­al­ly, until the mix­ture is thick­ened and dark brown.
  4. Uncov­er and con­tin­ue cook­ing on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.
  5. Spoon the mix­ture into ster­ile con­tain­ers, cov­er and refrig­er­ate or freeze.