Story created for Orbitz
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As great as hot drinks by the fireplace or hibernating until spring can be, there are plenty of winter activities that make bundling up and stepping boldly into the cold worth it. And why not start off your year with a winter to remember? From cross-country skiing in Yosemite to skating the longest ice trail in the country, these five adventures spanning the U.S. will empower you to do just that.
Cross-country ski in Yosemite
During the winter, some views are worth the effort it takes to get there. Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park is no exception. Glacier Point Road is closed to vehicles beyond Badger Pass, yet the route remains accessible for those willing to embark on an epic cross-country skiing adventure. Pack your gear and your grit because the trail is a straightforward, but long, 21-mile out and back trek. Potential solitude and hypnotically grand views of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley and the surrounding high country is your reward. Be sure to check in with the Badger Pass Ranger Station if you plan on snow camping. Yosemite View Lodge is a few miles from the park’s entrance if you need a night to recuperate.
Ice climb in the Switzerland of America
Nicknamed the “Switzerland of America,” Ouray, Colorado, is a perfect destination for climbers, and that doesn’t change when the cold sets in. Just minutes from downtown, the Ouray Ice Park is an adventure-loaded playground with 200 routes on vertical walls of frozen water. San Juan Mountain Guides can set you up with instruction or gear. Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs or St. Elmo Hotel make great basecamps, especially if you plan on exploring other icy routes in the area. Climb in the morning, enjoy a craft beer and burger at Ouray Brewery, then take an afternoon soak in the local hot springs.
Snowmobile in Jackson Hole
The only question you’ll ask when it comes to snowmobiling in Jackson Hole is, What type of adventure do I want? Snake through the woods to take a hot soak in Granite Hot Springs? Cruise along the Continental Divide at Togwotee Pass? Speed unguided on a “sled” through open wilderness of fresh powder with friends? Or perhaps zoom through the less-crowded winter wonderland of Yellowstone? Single-day tours and multi-day excursions are available. Choose one or spend a few extra days doing them all. It’s your adventure. The Lodge at Jackson Hole makes for a comfortable stay either way.
Explore the Apostle Islands ice caves
Certain conditions must be met to reach the Apostle Islands ice caves, making this Midwestern bucket-list excursion a unique experience. Only in bitterly cold winters, when there’s enough good surface ice, can you trek for a mile across frozen Lake Superior to stand in these caves among dazzling ice formations. Rest assured, the effort it takes to time your visit to this natural wonder will make for an unforgettable trip. Access the caves 4 miles northeast of Cornucopia, Wisconsin, after checking with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s Facebook page for current information. Enjoy Lake Superior views and comfortable rooms at The Washburn Inn 20 miles away. Meanwhile, Park Point Marina Inn, located in Duluth, is only a 90-minute drive from the caves.
Skate America’s longest ice trail
Lake Morey is located just west of Fairlee, Vermont, and every winter its 545-acre expanse freezes over, spoiling visitors with an ice skating experience like none other. This winter wonderland features Lake Morey Skate Trail, a 4.3-mile looping trail, the longest in the United States. Speed down the ice or take it slow to enjoy the lake-front homes and surrounding scenery. The trail is free to use and don’t worry if you don’t own a pair of skates. Pick up a pair at Lake Morey Resort. If no rooms are available, a 20-minute drive south lands you at Hanover Inn Dartmouth in New Hampshire. In the morning, cross back into Vermont for King Arthur Baking Company’s artisan bread, pastries, and pies.