Best Winter Destinations

Winter activities in the West include carnivals, holiday lights, ice-skating, and much more.

the Northern Lights, Savor the Season

The northern lights illuminate the polar skies.

In some places, seasons are an abstraction. But in our parts, winter means something: icy streams, biting winds, and blue skies over white peaks. The temps may be 120 degrees away from summer highs, but we don't hunker down. We bundle up and get out. Here's why.

Blue ice crusting the ground near Yellowstone's superheated geysers + Snowshoeing on the trails around the Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole, Wyo. + Sea and snow mixing together in Juneau, Alaska + A warm fire in the May Creek forest service cabin near Wisdom, Mont. + 250,000 holiday lights draped over aspens and rosebushes at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise + Skating the Olympic rink in Salt Lake City (in your mind, even the Russian judge is cheering) + Shouting with the crowd at a late-season University of Montana football game + Tail-wagging sled dogs + Fireworks at Idaho's Sandpoint Winter Carnival in January + Hunting for that perfect tree on a horse-drawn sleigh ride for six at the EZ Rocking Ranch in Recluse, Wyo. + The northern lights shimmering over Chena Hot Springs Resort near Fairbanks, Alaska + Snowshoe softball, snow sculptures, and running of the reindeer at Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous + A mug of flavored, house-roasted dessert coffee at Morning Glory Coffee & Tea in West Yellowstone, Mont. + A gondola ride 2,000 feet up the slopes of Bald Mountain for lunch at the Roundhouse Restaurant in Sun Valley, Idaho + Cross-country skiing past limestone hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, Utah + A cold, clear night on a Montana back road—the closest you can get to the stars without a telescope.

Photography courtesy US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This article was first published in November 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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