Think of winter camping as the “Game of Thrones” of outdoor adventures – it’s epic, a bit unexpected, and always cooler than you think (pun intended).
As someone who’s pitched tents more times than I can count in snow-covered forests and alongside frozen lakes, I know a thing or two about making the most of these icy adventures.
While summer campers sweat in the sun, us winter warriors build snow forts that would make John Snow PROUD.
In this guide, we’ll explore our favorite activities that turn a winter wonderland into our personal playground. From snowball fights worthy of a sitcom scene to tranquil moments that feel like a Zen garden in the snow, get ready to discover why braving the cold might just be the HOTTEST thing in camping.
Winter camping is coming, and it’s bringing a sled-load of fun with it!
Beginner-Friendly Winter Camping Activities
Let’s get started with some cool winter camping activities that are super easy for beginners. Trust me, you’re going to have a blast!
Having a huge campfire is our #1 FAVORITE thing to do in the winter months. HANDS DOWN. The warmth and ambiance of a campfire is one of our favorite parts of camping. And we could spend HOURS staring into the flames and poking at the logs.
Strap on some snowshoes and you’ll feel like a winter wilderness explorer. It’s our favorite way to trek through deep snow, and we love seeing the woods in a whole new, serene light.
Gliding through the snow on skis is not only a great workout, but it’s also incredibly peaceful. We find that the rhythmic motion and serene quiet of a snowy forest are truly soothing.
There’s a unique calmness to ice fishing, sitting by a hole in the ice, waiting for a catch. It’s a meditative experience, and you might just get a fresh fish for dinner! (Or you may just ice fish to drink beer and hang out – that’s totally fine too!)
Sledding or Tobogganing
Rushing down a snowy hill on a sled or toboggan always makes us giggle until our faces hurt. It’s a simple pleasure that reminds us of the carefree days of childhood. The hardest part is walking up the hill 50 million times!
The clear, crisp winter nights are perfect for stargazing. Away from city lights, the stars and constellations seem brighter and more numerous. If you’re far enough north, you may even be able to catch the Northern Lights. (Pro tip: use this tracker to see the possibility of catching the aurora borealis near you.)
There’s something deeply satisfying about cooking over an open fire in the cold. The warmth of the fire and the delicious smells make for an unforgettable meal. Plus, a hot meal always warms us from the inside out.
We love how winter landscapes offer a unique, stark beauty that’s perfect for photography. The way the light plays off the snow and ice creates breathtaking scenes. It’s one of my favorites!
Snowball Fight or Snowman Building
During our most recent snowfall, I had just enough packable snow to make these miniature snowmen. How cute! Your snowman doesn’t have to look like the one on the left below. Just have fun and put some snow together.
Not all birds fly south for the winter, and they have to stay quite active to keep warm. Plus, they’re ridiculously cute when they’re all fluffed up in the cold!
You can ice skate on a frozen pond or lake if you know what you’re doing. However, we like to go into town and ice skate so that we know it’s safe – unless you fall and eat ice like we always do!
Imagine soaking in a hot spring while surrounded by snow. It’s a surreal and relaxing experience that contrasts the hot and cold in the most delightful way. You may be able to find natural hot springs depending on your location. But a man-made hot spring resort can be just as inviting on a snowy day!
Building a Snow Shelter
There’s something magical about constructing a snow shelter – it’s like building a fort as a kid, but for real.
Following animal tracks in the snow is like being a nature detective. You’ll learn to identify different animals and get insights into their winter habits. This is easier when you have cell phone service – that way you can look up different animal tracks and compare in real time.
One of our favorite winter activities we’ve ever done is dog sledding! The dogs truly love to run and it’s so much fun to get pulled through the snow on a sled!
Activities for the Adventurous Winter Camper
For those with a more adventurous spirit, winter camping opens up a whole realm of exhilarating activities. If you’re willing to venture into Type 2 fun, you’ll find thrills, a deeper connection with winter wilderness, and probably some deep powder. Here’s a list to get the adrenaline pumping:
Unlike resort skiing, backcountry skiing allows you to carve your own path down untouched snow, often in remote areas. We love taking our gear into the backcountry so we can see incredible views and untouched powder (see image below). If you’re interested in getting into backcountry activities, join a local group to find good spots and consider taking an Avalanche class.
Scale frozen waterfalls or icy cliffs for an adrenaline-pumping challenge that tests both physical and mental strength. If you haven’t done this before, seek out a local guide.
Mountaineering is about conquering snowy peaks and navigating harsh conditions, a true test of endurance and skill. Book a local outfitter for a more safe experience.
Ride specially designed bikes with oversized tires over snowy trails, a fun and challenging way to navigate through winter terrain. One of the most creative ways we’ve been on a fat bike was for a beer tour! We got to ride our fat bikes between breweries and enjoy a beer in a warm brewery over and over again!
Speed through winter landscapes on a snowmobile! This is one of our favorite winter activities of all time!
Take tobogganing to the next level with steeper and more challenging courses, adding an edge to the classic winter fun.
Soar above snowy mountains and valleys, offering a breathtaking and serene view from above.
Each of these activities requires specialized equipment, knowledge, and often a higher level of physical fitness. Safety is paramount, so it’s essential to either have the appropriate training or go with a guide who does. For the adventurous camper, winter offers a playground of opportunities to both challenge yourself and connect deeply with the beauty of the season.
Indoor Winter Camping Activities
If you have the luxury of retreating indoors, be it in an RV or a nearby town, your list of winter activities can expand to include some that offer a break from the cold while still embracing the spirit of winter camping. Here are some ideas:
Visit a Local Museum or Visitor Center
We’ve found that exploring local museums offers a great way to connect with the area’s history and culture, especially on colder days. And we always stop by the visitor center for more ideas for fun things to do!
A spa day is our indulgent way to rejuvenate, especially soothing after braving the cold outdoors. There are few things as relaxing as a warm spa after a cold day.
Board Games and Puzzles
Gathering around for board games or puzzles is our go-to for bonding and fun during indoor evenings. Plus, we feel like this is better quality time than just watching a movie. Our favorite camping game is UNO!
Hot Cocoa and Movie Night
We love warming up with hot cocoa while watching a classic movie, a perfect way to relax after a day in the snow. Download your movie to your phone or tablet ahead of time. Hot chocolate is my favorite evening drink of choice, but you could also drink hot tea.
Local Winter Festivals
Check out if any winter festivals or events are happening nearby. These could range from ice sculpture displays to winter food tastings. We love Breckenridge’s Ullr Fest, which is in December and celebrates the Norse god of snow. Participating in local winter festivals immerses us in vibrant community traditions and seasonal celebrations.
Crafting sessions bring out our creative side, making souvenirs or decorations, and adding a personal touch to our winter experience. We like to bring our own crafts. I feel like we all have that one project that is just waiting for our attention and some downtime!
Diving into a good book is a peaceful way to unwind and enjoy some quiet time inside the tent or cabin. Pro tip: bring a headlamp or book reading light. It can be hard to read in the dark and there’s a lot of darkness during the peak winter months.
Plan the Next Day’s Activities
We often spend time mapping out the next day’s adventures, ensuring we make the most of our trip.
Local Indoor Sports
Trying out local indoor sports facilities can be a fun and active way to spend a day (like swimming or rock climbing).
Music and Podcasts
Listening to music or podcasts creates a cozy atmosphere, perfect for relaxing inside or during a gentle snowfall. tunes.
Being able to retreat indoors doesn’t mean the adventure has to stop; it just adds another layer of options to your winter camping experience.
And let’s face it, part of the joy of braving the cold is the warm, cozy moments that come afterward.
Just like the epic tales from Westeros, winter camping offers a blend of serenity, excitement, and a touch of the unexpected.
It’s a world where building snow shelters feels as grand as constructing Winterfell’s walls and where the peaceful solitude rivals the quiet North beyond the Wall.
So, gear up, embrace the chill, and let your winter camping story unfold. Remember, in this snowy adventure, you’re not just surviving the cold; you’re thriving in a winter wonderland of your own making.
What are some popular winter camping activities?
There are so many fun winter activities you can do while camping! From casual activities like snowball fights and snowshoeing to more intense excursions like snowboarding/skiing and dog sledding, there’s something for everyone to do while you’re out camping in the winter months.
Is winter camping fun?
Yes, winter camping is fun! It offers a unique blend of serene beauty, exciting activities like snowshoeing, and the cozy warmth of a campfire in the snow, making it a rewarding adventure for those who are prepared.
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