3 Sports to Try This Winter (That Aren’t Skiing)
By Kevin Jones
While downhill skiing gets all the glory when those snowflakes start falling, there are great alternatives for those who want to get outside without the lift ticket costs. Instead of staying inside this winter, venture out and try snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and fat biking in Utah’s mountains.
Snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years as a way for people to be mobile in the winter. Nowadays, it’s an enjoyable and versatile recreational activity. If you can walk, then you can snowshoe. This makes the skill level needed to learn and enjoy the sport much less than most other winter activities. All you need is a pair of snowshoes that will hold your weight and a pair of hiking poles.
Where to Snowshoe around Salt Lake City
There are spectacular snowshoeing trails all over northern Utah, but a few of our favorites are: Millcreek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Antelope Island, Round Valley in Park City, and Ogden Canyon up north. The best part about this sport is you can do it anywhere there is snow and it’s free (once you rent or buy snowshoes).
2. Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing, or Nordic skiing, is a classic Scandinavian sport that has been around for over 5,000 years. It too originated out of necessity as a way to move overland during winter months. If you’ve ever downhill skied, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how light and narrow cross country skis and poles are. Cross country skiing requires a certain amount of finesse for balancing while coordinating your arms and legs to move in a forward direction. It’s easy to get the basics on your own, but taken a lesson will help you perfect your form.
Where to Cross Country Ski Around Salt Lake City
Cross country skiing is most enjoyable when done in areas specifically groomed for it. Near Salt Lake, try the Solitude Nordic Center, Millcreek Canyon, and Sundance Nordic Center. Alta Ski Area also has its own track between the Albion and Wildcat base areas. Near Park City, buy a day pass to the White Pine Touring Nordic Center, Mountain Dell Golf Course in Parley’s Canyon, or Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway.
3. Fat Biking
Fat biking was deemed the hottest new wintersport by Forbes in 2016, and it’s only gained popularity since. That’s because fat biking is a fun way for bike enthusiasts to stay active throughout the year. The extra-wide tires let you ride on trails you normally couldn’t in snowy weather. If can’t stomach the high purchase price of a fat bike, rent one at most local winter sport shops.
Where to Fat Tire Bike Around Salt Lake City
Park City is a mecca for winter biking, and we love riding in winter on the Lost Prospector and Round Valley trailheads. Most of the recommended winter trails require climbing, but the views make it totally worthwhile. If you’re just starting out, try fat biking on the snowy closed road at the top of Millcreek Canyon to practice your balance and braking in snow.
Utah has so much to offer for every season. Don’t let the cold keep you from getting outside and enjoying it. Try one (or all) of these sports, and you might actually be sad when springtime rolls around.