You’ve heard of bucket lists, but what about winter bucket lists? If that sounds intriguing, check out outdoor winter activities including reindeer sledding, ice fishing, chasing the northern lights, and climbing frozen waterfalls. For the calmer-hearted, going to holiday markets and building a snowman can be epic in their own ways.
Outdoor Winter Activities for Your Winter Bucket List
In many parts of the world, winter means snow and ice. It’s a chance for folks to try something out of the ordinary, especially if they live in warmer climates. A trip to colder regions can change your perspective on the world, so here are outdoor activities to consider trying in the winter.
Even sledding down the hill at your local park can feel like a bombastic experience when you haven’t gone since you were a kid. To add more adventure to sledding, you can spray water on the track to make a layer of ice. Give it a day or so to freeze.
Snowboard or ski wax or cooking spray oil on the bottom of your sled adds lubrication for a faster ride, too. Clear obstacles from your path, and use a circular sled since little is touching the ground. Stay low to avoid drag, which slows down the sled.
2. Ice Fishing
Ice fishing isn’t your regular fishing with some cold thrown in. It’s old hat to folks who live in many Arctic regions, though. Ice anglers create deep holes in the ice to lure fish to the bait. This activity does require patience and technique, but if you’re with the right group of folks, it’s one of the most fantastic outdoor winter activities around.
3. Chasing the Northern Lights
Yellowknife in Canada is one of the top places to head to for chasing the Northern Lights. About 240 days of the year, you get to see the aurora borealis. The best times are from mid-November to April, though. Other excellent places to see the lights include Fairbanks, Alaska; Tromso, Norway; Lapland, Finland; Orkney, Scotland; and Jukkasjarvi, Sweden.
You can do much more in these destinations than just view stunning lights. Virtually everything on this list, if not every item, is available in each location.
4. Climbing Frozen Waterfalls
In Canada, Scandinavia, and a few other regions, you can sign up for a guided tour where you cut through ice and ascend a frozen waterfall for superb views. Ontario, Canada, and Sweden’s Abisko National Park are two places to check out for fabulous outdoor winter activities.
5. Checking Out Holiday Markets and Wonderlands
Maybe your community holiday market doesn’t seem that epic, but the ones in Germany, Poland, Austria, and Estonia dazzle. In these places, you can also check out light festivals and winter wonderlands with games and rides. Eindhoven in the Netherlands puts on the Glow in Winter light show.
6. Building a Snowman
Perhaps your life has been cascading toward this moment, the moment when you create the most epic snowman ever. Use freshly fallen snow if possible, but spray your snow with water if it is too powdery.
Once you’ve rolled your oversized snowballs, it’s time to accessorize to give your snowman attitude and personality. Get creative for that unique spin. Once you’ve had that bit of practice, try your hand at snow dogs, snow mermaids, dragons, and all manner of creatures.
Snowmobiling is one of the best outdoor winter activities (granted, there are a lot!). You can do it practically anywhere there’s snow, so long car or plane trips may not be necessary. If you’re in the mood to travel, however, Sweden, Norway, and Finland offer fantastic experiences.
Weeks or even hours of lessons are not necessary. Snowmobiling is easy to pick up. You can often carry a passenger such as your spouse or child, too.
8. Reindeer Sledding or Dog Sledding
In this activity, you ride on a sleigh pulled by reindeer or dogs. Arctic Lapland is one of the areas where reindeer sledding is doable, although your area may offer it on a smaller scale.
For the best dog sledding adventures, head to Alaska, Canada, Iceland, or Arctic Scandinavia. Have fun with the huskies!
9. Snow Hiking or Snowshoeing
Snow hiking can test and challenge your endurance, stamina, and love for outdoor winter activities in a way few other activities do. If that sounds like too much, never fear. Short, relatively easy snow hikes abound and are a lot of fun.
Then there is snowshoeing, another way to hike in the snow. You wear snowshoes to prevent your feet from sinking into the snow.
10. Ice Skating
For increased adventure, try ice skating on a frozen lake. Do be careful, though. Always check the thickness of the ice and consult local authorities or others in the know to make sure it’s safe to skate on the lake.
Outdoor ice skating trails are great for outdoor winter activities, too. You can skate in the woods and see the world from a slightly different perspective.
11. Visiting Ice Caves
Switzerland, Canada, Iceland, Russia, and Slovakia are among the nations that have natural ice caves. Sign up for a snowshoe tour or other type of tour to get to the caves and see some of the most beautiful natural creations possible.
12. Biking in the Snow
Winter biking is great for stress relief and adventure as long as you do it right. Namely, when you encounter ice, coast over it rather than turning, braking, or pedaling. Always keep the bike lights on, and lower your seat for easier pedaling and braking.
Ice tires are great pieces of hardware to have along with disc brakes. Bar mitts for your handlebars are nice, too.
Plenty of other incredible winter activities abound. They include walking on ice glaciers, skiing, and snow tubing. There’s a lot to keep you busy.
Enjoy Your Outdoor Winter Activities and Get More Ideas
Rugged Standard offers the scoop on outdoor winter activities and other ideas for all seasons. Check out our adventures category here.