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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Wintertime has sports enthusiasts hitching up their skis, snowshoes, and snowboards. But those aren’t the only options for adventure seekers. Imagine going surfing, kite skiing or being pulled along by a horse, dog, or motor vehicle? Yes, there are some interesting winter sports out there! This winter, give one of these unusual activities a try—we’ve included a great place to stay for each, to rest up and warm up between your outdoor adventures.

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Ice climbing in Michigan

Credit: Pure Michigan

This winter sport involves the scaling up of icefalls, cliffs, and rock slabs by swinging your axe into the ice, holding on tight, and inching your way up a frozen ladder. In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, this activity is way cool at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Lake effect snow and colder temperature merge with numerous waterfalls, porous sandstone cliffs, and water seeping out of rock layers to create the foundations for climbing. Plus, the Michigan Ice Fest puts ice climbing up close to viewers and participants in Munising, which is also home to the famous lakeshore. 

Where to stay: Consider the Holiday Inn Express Munising-Lakeview or AmericInn by Wyndham Wetmore Munising

Heli-snowmobiling in Colorado

Similar to heli-skiing, this winter sport transports enthusiasts to a remote site by helicopter, where they will start their adventure riding on a snowmobile. In Aspen, The Gant offers this unique experience to their guests via a partnership with Nomad Inc. through a booking package. The opportunity encompasses not only safety equipment, and of course the snowmobile, but also brings participants to Rocky Mountain backcountry terrain. Another unusual winter sport to try: ice-karting atop a frozen lake in Western Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley.

Where to stay: The Gant gives you easy access to help-skiing.

Ice boating in Wyoming

Yes, you can take a boat out along frozen waters, as there are vessels that are made specifically to carry out this icy excursion (also known as ice sailing). In Cheyenne, locals go ice boating on the North Crow Reservoir of Curt Gowdy State Park, the largest of the park’s three reservoirs. But plan ahead: It’s advised to call the park’s visitors center ahead of time to get the status of the ice and to make sure they have access on wintry days.

Where to stay:  Little America Cheyenne and Tru by Hilton Cheyenne WY are both about a half-hour drive to the park.

Kite skiing in Utah

Credit: Jeremiah Watt

Apparently, you can do more with a kite than fly it. During wintertime in Utah, kite skiing—the sport of using this light-framed toy to catch the wind for pulling along ski-wearing kite holders—can be done primarily within the Utah Skyline Drive Snowkiting Area. Skyline Drive is located in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Central and Southeastern Utah and is best accessed from Sanpete Valley, a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City. 

Where to stay: Ramada by Wyndham Price is a two-hour ride from Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Ice fishing in New York


Bundle up and bait your hook! The Empire State offers plenty of places for dropping a fishing line into an ice opening on a frozen body of water. Certain species of fish—from lake and brown trout to Atlantic salmon—also swim here this time of year. If you’re an angler, New York’s waterways from Lake George to the Hudson River and even the lower Niagara River and Maxwell Creek offer many catching options. Start off in the Lake George Area at Schroon Lake, Glen Lake (which is also the site of an annual ice fishing festival) and Lake Luzerne. But first, visit the New York State of Environmental Conservation’s website for details on licenses, safety tips, and regulations.

Where to stay: Near Lake Luzerne, Clarion Inn & Suites at the Outlets of Lake George is just a 15-minute drive away. 

Skijoring in Wisconsin

What’s skijoring? Picture people wearing skis and letting any anything from dogs to horses to vehicles pull them along. Consider trying it in Sparta at Justin Trails Resort, which offers a designated dog skijor trail and lessons for those wanting a crash course. Access to the resort’s trail system is $5 for day visitors and free for lodging guests.  Mt. Ashwabay ski and recreation area in Bayfield allows visitors to bring their own dog to experience skijoring on their wide, groomed dog-friendly trails.

Where to stay: Located about 15 minutes from Mt. Ashwabay, stay at The Washburn Inn – On The Lake, or opt for a more secluded overnight at Mission Springs Resort in Ashland, which features a private beach and is dog-friendly.


Tagged: Cheap Tips, Destinations, New York City, Off-season, Seasonal, Types of Travel

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