Fun Outdoor Winter Adventures under $100

Itching for an exciting outdoor activity this winter? Ski Expert Elizabeth H. shares a list of budget-friendly adventure ideas that are sure to inspire.

A woman wearing red snowshoes through deep snow.

Photo by Greg Rosenke

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Some people like to cuddle up by a warm fire during the winters, while others like to get outside and make the most of the recreational opportunities. This article is for those who want to get outside and enjoy the cold and snowy weather without breaking the bank. From winter hiking to snow themed festivals, this guide will tell you all about the best activities to do this winter season!

Go Tubing or Sledding

If you have access to a hill, sledding is one of the cheapest winter activities (as long as you avoid any urgent care trips). From the classic plastic toboggan to a speedy saucer or an inflatable tube, sledding is a fun way to enjoy the snow. Chat with a Curated Expert today to find the perfect sled and winter apparel to keep you warm during your adventures.

For those who are ready to move beyond their local sledding hill, check out a snow tubing hill. Many ski resorts have their own special tubing hill, a magic carpet takes you up the hill so all you have to do is hold on and enjoy the ride. Some resorts offer LED lights for night tubing or even year-round tubing.

Here are some of the top sledding spots around the country.

Woodward Park City: Park City, Utah

A landscape of Park City taken at sunset with the ground snowy and the city lights lit.

A winter landscape of Park City. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Woodward Park City is home to Utah’s longest groomed tubing run at 1,200 feet. Offering indoor and outdoor adventure sports, there’s something for the whole family at Woodward. Check out their website for the most up-to-date pricing information.

Mountaintop Snow Tubing: Keystone, Colorado

A family sits in four red tubes and holds their hands together.

Tubing at Keystone Resort. Photo by David Shankbone

The Mountaintop Tubing Hill at Keystone Resort in Colorado is the highest tubing hill in the world at 11,640 feet above sea level. Take the Gondola from the parking area to the top of Dercum Mountain then enjoy the multi-lane tubing hill. Tickets start at $48 per person.

Smugglers' Notch Resort: Jeffersonville, Vermont

A girl comes downhill on a red tube.

Photo courtesy of pxfuel

Smugglers’ Notch has been called “America’s family resort.” Sir Henry’s Hill offers tubing during the day and Glow Tubing at night, lit by LED arches and other lights. The tubing lanes aren’t the only family fun to be had at Smugglers’ Notch, guests can also enjoy snowshoeing, ice skating, bonfires, and many more indoor and outdoor activities. Winter events run from December 10th to April 10th this upcoming season, weather permitting.

Go for a Winter Hike

A woman stands with her back to the camera in a snowy expanse. Snow-dusted pine trees stretch before her.

Photo by Greg Shield

Winter hiking is another great way to enjoy snowy weather and avoid the crowds on popular trails. Hiking in the winter requires a bit more planning and preparation but it’s all worth it to enjoy the beauty of winter. Check out this article for more in-depth advice about planning for winter hikes. The most important things are insulating and moisture-wicking clothing, waterproof shoes or boots, and being prepared for a variety of trail conditions. Reading recent trail ratings on Alltrails.com is a great way to check the trail’s current condition. Microspikes are helpful on icy or snow-packed trails and trekking poles can help give you extra stability as well.

Rent Cross Country Skis or Snowshoes

For those who want to adventure beyond winter hiking trails, rent cross country skis or snowshoes and head outside! These rentals are much more affordable than downhill ski rentals and don’t require you to buy expensive lift tickets as well. Most communities where it snows have a Nordic ski association that will groom trails during the winters for skiers. Snowshoes are best used on ungroomed trails and are easier to maneuver for beginners. Rentals are available at most outdoor recreation stores. If you have access to a university’s outdoor program, check to see if they have rentals available as well, students and faculty get discounted rental rates but the public is also able to rent!

If you love your rentals, reach out to a Curated Ski Expert to get set up with your own cross-country ski gear for your next adventure!

Here are some of the best spots in the country for cross-country skiing and snow showing.

Driggs, Idaho

A snowy trail stretches out in front of the author. The Tetons rise in the distance.

Teton views from the Teton Canyon Trail in Driggs, ID. Photo by Elizabeth Hansen

This is one of my favorite cross country ski destinations, with 12 different trails groomed by Teton Valley Trails and Pathways and another 15km of trails at the Grand Targhee Resort, you could spend weeks exploring the many ski trails available in the area. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available in the town of Driggs at Peaked Sports or at Grand Targhee Resort.

Winthrop, Washington

A view of a snow-covered valley.

Winthrop, WA. Photo by Brian Dewey

Methow Trails is the largest cross-country ski area in the United States with over 120 miles of nordic trails to enjoy. Located off of the North Cascades Highway in north-central Washington, this is a year-round destination with the trails being used for skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and trail running as well as providing access to popular fly fishing spots. Classic and skate ski rentals, as well as snowshoes, are available at many local outdoor stores such as Cascades Outdoor Store, The Loup Loup Ski Rental Shop, and Sun Mountain Lodge. Trail passes and ski rentals are both $25 per day as of October 2021.

Lake Placid, New York

Two people emerge from the trees on cross-country skis.

Cross-country skiing in Lake Placid, NY. Photo by Phillip Belena

Check Out a Winter Festival

Winter festivals can be found across the country celebrating anything from snow sculpting to Nordic culture and almost everything in between!

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival: Saranac Lake, New York

An ice castle rises from the snow on a blue-sky day.

The 2020 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Photo by Daniel Penfield

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the longest-running event of its kind with the first one being held in 1897. It has grown to a ten-day event that includes performances, fireworks, parades, and sports. The centerpiece of the festival is the Ice Palace which is built by hand every year by a team of volunteers.

International Snow Sculpture Championships: Breckenridge, Colorado

An arial shot of the International Snow Sculputre Competition.

Photo courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office

The Snow Sculpture Championships bring together the world’s top 16 snow carving teams to create detailed and large artwork out of 20-ton snow blocks. All of the carving is done by hand over the course of five days followed by a seven-day viewing period. It is free to attend!

Lake Geneva Winterfest: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva Winterfest celebrates winter, art, and fun; plus it features the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championships. Teams have 72 hours to create their sculptures and visitors are welcome to watch the process for free. Other activities include s’mores on the beach, a hot cocoa crawl, ice sculpture tours, and more.

Go Ice Skating at An Outdoor Rink

Outdoor rinks can be found anywhere from scenic Sun Valley, Idaho to the Denver International Airport and lots of places in between. Check out some of the best outdoor rinks in the county this winter.

Rockefeller Center: New York, New York

Rockefeller Center and its large Christmas tree.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran

The small outdoor rink at Rockefeller Center is one of the most well-known rinks in the world. Skating under the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza is a quintessential winter activity in New York. With just 150 skaters allowed on the ice at a time, this experience is worth the wait. Tickets start at $20 and include a skate rental.

Sun Valley Ice Rink: Sun Valley, Idaho

Ice skaters skate at the rink outside Sun Valley Lodge.

Sun Valley Lodge. Photo courtesy of Visit Idaho

One of the most iconic outdoor rinks in the west, the Sun Valley Ice Rink is open year-round and hosts many world-class skating events. Enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding mountains or enjoy watching Olympic-level skaters train.

Visit the Ice Castles

A woman stands inside of an ice castle and takes pictures.

Midway, UT. Photo by Sean Pierce

Found in five locations across the United States (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Lake George, New York; Midway, Utah; New Brighton, Minnesota; and North Woodstock, New Hampshire) the Ice Castles are an award-winning winter attraction that is built from hundreds of thousands of icicles. Each castle is hand-built by a team of professional ice artists each year and features tunnels, slides, sculptures, fountains, LED lights, and ice thrones. Tickets range from $11 to $28 depending on dates and ages.

I hope you enjoy some of the budget-friendly winter activities this season! Chat with a Curated Expert today to get set up with the gear you need for any outdoor adventure this winter!

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Written By
Growing up in the mountains of Northern Utah, you are pretty much born with skis on your feet. I've been skiing Nordic since I started walking and alpine skiing since age 4 at my hometown resort of Beaver Mountain which is still one of my favorite places to ski! I've skied at almost all of the Utah...

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