6 Non-Skiing Winter Activities

**Leave it to #TeamSierra to be full of ideas for fun winter activities. Katie Boué offers up these 6 ideas for non-skiing or snowboarding winter activities.**

Upon the first dusty snowfall at the end of autumn each year, adventurers quickly divide into two camps: those who wish summer would last forever and the folks who spend the warmer months wistfully waiting to unleash their winter gear. The diehard winter fans nearly always identify themselves as skiers or snowboarders — but what about us adventurers who don't excel at either sport? Are we doomed to a season of loafing next to a fireplace while snow lovers play on the slopes and enjoy all the bluebird days?

I've attempted to pick up snowboarding on half a dozen winter trips, and I always end up spending more time falling and flailing than carving freshies. My adventures in skiing haven't been quite as disastrous, but I'm still too unskilled to leave the bunny slope — and frankly, I just don't love it that much. I refuse to let an entire season go by without my fair share of epic outdoor adventures, and these six activities offer exciting alternatives to the usual recreational winter fun.


If you're into hiking during the rest of the year, snowshoeing provides an ideal activity for the months when your favorite trails are buried under deep snowdrifts. First used as an ancient method of transportation, snowshoeing allows you to trudge through the wilderness without sinking up to your knees in snow. The only equipment you need is a pair of snowshoes, and it's a much easier hobby to pick up than anything requiring lift passes.

Ice Climbing

For the adventurer who spends three seasons pushing pebbles and scaling cliff faces, ice climbing provides a perfect way to get vertical during winter. Trading climbing shoes for crampons and chalk bags for ice axes, this activity gives climbers a new perspective on exploring while tethered to a rope. The most legendary ice climbing destination in the country is Ouray, Colo., but areas throughout the country offer courses to help you get the hang of scaling frozen water formations.

Tubing and Sledding

Perhaps the most classic of all non-skiing winter pastimes, careening down a snowy hillside on an inflatable tube or sled is an activity anyone can enjoy. For the ultimate experience, check out your local mountains for tubing hills complete with giant rental tubes and conveyer belt "lifts" to tow you up to the top of the hill. Alternatively, you create a makeshift run on a neighborhood slope and slide down using anything you can fashion into a sled, including garbage can lids and even cardboard boxes.


Indoors or outdoors, ice-skating is a wintertime activity that can challenge even the most seasoned adventurer. Requiring a delicate balance of coordination, agility, and confidence, this sport offers a fun seasonal outing for the entire family. Rental skates are typically affordable, and ice arenas nearly always sell hot cocoa, which makes ice-skating a perfect idea for an exciting date night. You don't have to be a graceful ballerina to have a great ice-skating experience — careening haphazardly along the ice while avoiding epic spills is half the fun. If your chops in the rink are up to par, consider testing your skating skills with a game of ice hockey.

Winter activities

Snowmen and Snowball Fights

You don't always need to leave the comfort of your own backyard to embark on a snowy adventure. Sometimes the roads are just too icy, and sometimes you just don't want to stray too far from the warmth of your home's fireplace — and there's nothing wrong with that. Challenge your family members or neighbors to a snowman building competition, or turn your wintry wonderland into a battlefield with a good old-fashioned snowball fight. Build barricades, stock up with an artillery of snowballs, and romp through the powder while pegging people with your best shot. The best part? A steamy mug of tea and a warm shower are just a few yards away once you've had your fill of snowy merriment.

Ice Fishing

If group activities aren't really your thing, ice fishing offers an outdoor recreation that gives a hefty dose of solitude, patience, and relaxation. It may not be the easiest hobby to pick up without a little instruction from someone else, but once you get into the groove of fishing on a frozen lake, you'll be able to trek out to your favorite lake, drill a hole into the thick layer of ice coating the water, and sit back to enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature while waiting for a fish to take your bait. I used to see the same ice fisherman every time I went hiking along my favorite winter trail in Boulder, Colo., and he always looked so peaceful and content sitting alone in the middle of the lake. Plus, you get to bring something tasty home for a hot home-cooked meal afterwards.

Just because you're into neither skiing nor snowboarding doesn't mean you have to spend the winter season cooped up indoors, dreading every forecast that predicts snowfall. From sliding down a mountain on an inflatable to snow-filled festivities in your own backyard, there are many activities that can add a dash of adventure to anyone's wintertime agenda. Whether you pick up a new hobby or revert back to the basics, a fresh blanket of snow always leads to opportunities for a wintry adventure.

The Morning Fresh

-Katie Boué is a southeastern climber who documents her travels, photography, and outdoor lifestyle on The Morning Fresh — including a yearlong road trip spent living in a big yellow van to explore America's greatest climbing destinations and National Parks. You can follow her adventures through her blog, or on Twitter via @TheMorningFresh.

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