Extraordinary Winter Sports

Try some new activities this season, such as bobsledding, curling, or skiing with a kite.

Snow kiter at California's Sugar Bowl Resort, Tahoe, Calif., image

 

A snow kiter harnesses free wind energy at California’s Sugar Bowl Resort. 

The presents are unwrapped, the houseguests have left, and cabin fever has taken hold. Want to get outside and try something new this year? From curling to bobsledding, extraordinary winter sports and activities abound.

  • Snow kites defy inertia in a wholly new way. Hooked to a kite, a skier or snowboarder can traverse a snowy meadow with the wind. Learn how at California’s Sierra Snowkite Center at Sugar Bowl, the first in the Tahoe area. (530) 816-0485, sierrasnowkite.com.
  • Aspiring Olympians slide into a bobsled behind a pro pilot, then hold on as the sled screams downhill at 80 mph—on the track used for the 2002 Olympic games in Park City, Utah. (435) 658-4200, utaholympiclegacy.com.
  • Curious about curling? At the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club’s clinics, novices learn to throw and sweep the 42-pound stone. You don’t even have to BYOB—brooms are provided. (415) 745-2875, bayareacurling.com.
  • Bird lovers flock to Utah’s Sundance Resort for excursions that redefine the term night owl. Guided by naturalists, participants snowshoe under the stars in search of owls—barn, great horned, and short-eared. (801) 223-4170, sundanceresort.com.
  • In Big Sky, Mont., adrenaline junkies get their fix on winter zip lines. On the Nature Zip, participants soar above scenic ravines; riders on the Adventure Zip race down at 35 mph, 150 feet above the skiers. (406) 995-5769, bigskyresort.com.
  • Grab your crampons and take to the ice in Jackson, Wyo., where Exum Mountain Guides offers lessons on a special ice climbing wall ideal for learning the ropes. (307) 733-2297, tetonicepark.com.
  • Aspiring Olympians slide into a bobsled behind a pro pilot, then hold on as it screams downhill at 80 mph on the same track used for the 2002 Olympic games in Park City, Utah. (435) 658-4200, utaholympiclegacy.com.
  • Each winter, members of the Libby, Mont., Polar Bear Club meet weekly for an icy plunge in Libby Creek. Even if you can’t stay in the 35-degree water for 30 minutes—alongside club president “Polar Bear” Rick Klin—you’ll still receive a certificate. (406) 293-3608, libbymt.com.
  • Skijorers harness the power of their pooches for supercharged cross-country skiing. Keen to try? In Estacada, Ore., the Cascade Sled Dog Club’s pull clinics teach skiers—and their dogs—the skills behind the sport. (503) 896-9199, cascadesleddogclub.com/pull-clinic.
  • For a bit of nostalgia, hop on a jingle bell–bedecked, horse-drawn sleigh to ride through Idaho’s Sun Valley. At the midpoint, you’ll dine at the Trail Creek Cabin, where Ernest Hemingway and Gary Cooper once hobnobbed. (208) 622-2800, sunvalley.com.
  • Prefer canine companionship? Head to Healy, Alaska, and hitch a ride by dogsled into Denali National Park and Preserve. Guide Jon Nierenberg has taken travelers into the tundra for decades and will even teach adventurous guests to mush. Watch for wolves, caribou, and moose. (907) 683-2863, earthsonglodge.com.

Photography by Michael Pavel

This article was first published in January 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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