Winter destinations turn ice and snow into fun experiences

        The dust from all the holiday action is settling and the reality of winter is confronting us.
        It’s no surprise that many of us dread the wintry weather of January and February, but they can be much more than just a part of the year to endure. It’s a matter of point-of-view and a willingness to take winter on headfirst.
        If you do, you’ll likely enjoy some of the best and most memorable adventures of your life.
        In our house, we still talk about a couple of Canadian wilderness dog sled adventures with my oldest son when he was still in grade school – incredibly beautiful, memorable and rewarding. And then there was a January week spent in Yellowstone with out-of-this-world scenery and wildlife.
        Ohio’s Hocking Hills is a winter wonderland, with gorges and cliffs festooned with huge icicles. Mohican State Park is always beautiful. Geauga County during maple sugaring is really special. Like Hocking, Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, complete with Sleeping Bear Dunes, is extraordinary in winter.
        Ditto for nearby Traverse City. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a more remote beauty. Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains and its rock-strewn mountain streams are incomparable. These and so many other great places sport a special beauty in winter.
        Many winter destinations turn the ice and snow into fun and interesting experiences. Wilderness dog sledding was one of my best-ever experiences. On my wish list is a stay at the Ice Hotel in Quebec, which, as you might guess, is an all-ice edifice open this year into early March. Vermont would be spectacular, too.
        Minnesota is a haven for places to enjoy evening drinks outside at bars made of ice. It’s not alone in offering such unusual winter pleasures – look for those types of outdoor entertainment venues at destinations that cater to snowmobilers and other winter enthusiasts.
        Keys to winter travel success aren’t complicated. Diligent advance planning is essential to make sure you know what to expect and how to equip yourself accordingly. That means special attention to clothing. Clothing can make the difference between comfort and misery – put the emphasis on wool, not cotton. You may need items to protect any exposed skin, choose insulated boots over wool socks and, well, you get the idea.
        There are choices to fit any interest and any desired level of immersion in winter weather. Try your hand at winter tent camping or choose a luxurious ski lodge. Spend all your time outdoors, or indoors, or spend your days adventuring and evenings in comfort with great food and accommodations.
        The other side of winter here can be equally enjoyable – finding contentment in the winter weather that keeps you home, inside with a good book next to a roaring fire.
        Better yet, use the quiet and slower pace as a time for planning ahead for a year filled with travel and adventure. I’ve got my list started – maybe it’s a good idea for you, too.
        Maybe even look ahead to next winter. That’s how you end up at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful and have it virtually to yourself.


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