Little girl snow tubing
Camping is a year-round recreational activity, and Christmas breaks make wintertime especially good for family camping. Most think that winter can complicate plans to spend quality time outside with your children. However, winter can provide many fun things you can do together outside that you cannot do the rest of the year. Here are some great winter camping activities:
The nice thing about snowshoeing is the openness of exploration it allows, regardless of whether you pull into a parking lot or just decide to explore off of your nearest trail. Another benefit of the openness that snowshoeing provides is that the snow is likely to be less trampled upon and more light and fluffy. Snowshoeing lets you and the little ones enjoy the nip in the air while surveying the land to see what you can find, much like searching for seashells at the beach. With your children's imaginations as your guide, snowshoeing can become your family's go-to outdoor activity for wintertime.
Tips: Bring a GPS and/or map and compass because sudden snowstorms can bury tracks. Also, stay on marked trails until you're comfortable with the area. Remember to bring goggles and a thermos of hot chocolate or cider. Check out our tips for camping in the cold to be fully prepared.
Our pick: Rainbow Lakes in Colorado, which is rarely used in the winter and is located next to the glacier-carved Caribou ridge line.
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Snow tubing is perhaps the simplest and most fun family activities of all. All you have to do is grab an inner tube, raft, or something that a person can slide on and visit your local snowy hill. The more sliding crafts you have, the less your children will have to wait, so get creative with it! You will be surprised by how fast time flies as your kids slip and slide down the snowy slopes. There will be tons of photo opportunities, so don't forget your camera.
Tips: Dress everyone in very warm layers, especially if the local hill isn't right around the corner from home. Make sure to use sliding apparatuses that have nothing sticking out, such as an air valve on an inner tube. Bring snacks, hot chocolate, and even lunch, if you plan on staying for a while. Check out our tips for camping in the cold to be fully prepared.
Our pick: The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington, which allows for tube rentals in two-hour session blocks that will make it a simple matter of planning your arrival.
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Skiing / Snowboarding
No guide to outdoor winter activities would be complete without mentioning skiing and snowboarding. We don't need to explain how this works! Here are three locations for you to consider:
- Colorado Rockies - There are many ski resorts in the heart of Colorado near Denver. Vail and Breckenridge are two that we recommend. Stay at Tiger Run RV Resort, with 365 RV sites, and x chalets. Tiger Run RV Resort gives you the best access to the slopes.
- Park City Utah - The Canyons and Park City offer fantastic skiing and snowboarding. You can stay at nearby Rockport State Park that has 6 campgrounds and a yurt.
- Lake Tahoe – Heavenly and Squaw Valley are two of our favorite ski resorts. Stay at one of 13 campgrounds near Lake Tahoe that are open over the winter.
For those in the Sun Belt, snow is not always abundant enough for snowshoeing, so this is the snowless version. Especially nice in the Southeastern US due to the lack of insects, winter hiking enables longer forays into areas that are often riddled with mosquitoes or scorched underneath the Southern sun. There will still be a nice amount of leaves carpeting the forest floor, offering unique picture-taking opportunities and general frolicking possibilities. Daytime temperatures are generally mild, but make sure everyone with you has a winter camping bag and a warm, stable tent, if you plan on camping.
Tips: Bring layers, especially if you are staying overnight. Again, having a GPS, compass, and map is advisable. Bring hot chocolate too – it's always a crowd favorite.
Our pick: Linville Gorge in North Carolina, which has car-camping and is great for novice hikers and families with young children.
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Why not take your kids to visit a local park and indulge in its trails? For children, bicycling gives them the freedom and thrill of controlling a vehicle – a skill they admire in adults. Another perk for you and the kids is that bicycling allows you to explore familiar places in a more appreciative way than riding in a car, as well as the freedom to investigate foreign terrain. Once your family becomes accustomed to riding the local trails, you can begin to take daytrips and more to partake in bicycle rides with your family.
Tips: Make sure everyone is wearing a helmet that fits snugly and covers the entire head. For younger riders consider additional equipment, such as elbow pads. Remember to bring water, spare tubes (in case of flats), and comfortable attire. For night rides, deep tunnels, and long trestles, headlamps will make riding easier.
Our pick: Legacy Trail in Florida, which is part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy program that turns former rail lines into bike trails.
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