Why wait until summer to head out on your next camping trip? A winter trip can be jam-packed with fun winter camping activities and offer unique experiences that you can’t get during warmer months. All you need is to get creative and be sure you have the right gear to stay warm and safe on your adventure. Check out this round up of ideas for your next winter camping trip.
Classic Outdoor Winter Camping Activities
1. Go Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing
Whether you own your own snowshoes or cross-country skis or need to rent them, this is a great option for the whole family. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are both relatively easy to learn. There are many trails of varying lengths, so if you’re out with little ones, you can opt for a shorter trail.
2. Have a Tubing or Sledding Adventure
Grab a tube or sled and enjoy the exhilarating feeling of flying down a hill with the wind in your hair and a smile on your face.
Sledding can cause injuries, so be sure to scope out the bottom of the hill before you begin. Look out for trees and rocks that may get in the way.
3. Try Bird Watching
Got a pair of binoculars? Bird watching is a great way to slow down and connect with nature. Birds are a bit less active in the winter, but that makes bird sightings all the more exciting. You can use an online birding guide so you can identify what you spot.
4. Go Ice Skating on a Frozen Pond or Lake
There’s nothing quite like ice skating on a frozen lake or pond! It’s an entirely different experience than skating on an indoor rink–you’re surrounded by tall trees, wildlife, perhaps some lightly falling snow, and if you’re lucky, blue skies above. Bring your skates along or rent them locally.
Before going out on the ice, take time to check and make sure it’s safe. You can ask a local or refer to an online resource. If you’re skating in a state park, park employees may do a daily check to ensure the ice is safe to walk and skate on. You can also check out the ice firsthand; if you spot flowing water, cracks or holes, or spots that have thawed and refrozen, it may not be safe. A helpful way to remember is the saying: “Thick and blue, tried and true; thin and crispy, way too risky.”
5. Take a Hike
While winter hiking may seem dauntingly cold, it can also be unusually fun as the trails are less crowded! Plus, keeping your body moving is a good way to stay warm while enjoying nature.
6. Snap Photos
Hobbies you love in the warmer months don’t have to be exclusive to those seasons. If you’re an avid photographer, bring your camera on your next winter camping trip. Often, you can get beautiful shots that aren’t possible during other times of the year–like stunning vistas not blocked by foliage. As a bonus, the overcast winter weather can help you create eye-catching images since the bright light of the summer sun won’t wash out your photos.
7. Roast Marshmallows
Campfires aren’t only for summer months. In fact, they’re arguably even more enjoyable in the winter because the warmth is so welcome. Grab some marshmallows and roast them, or concoct some delicious s’mores.
8. Channel Your Inner Child—Build a Snow Fort or Sculpture, Have a Snowball Fight, or Make Snow Angels!
No matter your age, having some childlike fun on a snowy day can be an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors. You can have a snowball fight with your kids, draw on your creativity to craft a unique snow sculpture, make snow angels, or build a fort.
Cozy Indoor Winter Camping Activities
9. Sip Hot Cocoa at a Local Cafe
When the chill starts sinking into your bones, take a break and warm up inside. Explore the local area and find a cute coffee shop. Enjoy some delicious tea or hot cocoa while you relax in a comfy armchair.
10. Enjoy a Movie Night
If you’re camping in an RV or a cabin, try building a blanket fort and watching a movie together. When camping in a tent, consider heading into town for the evening to catch a movie at the local theater.
11. Play Cards or Board Games
Watch the snow fall from inside your cozy cabin while enjoying a spirited card game or a board game.
12. Read a Book or Journal
Sometimes in our daily lives, it can be tough to find time for things we enjoy. On your winter camping trip, carve out a few moments to watch the snow fall while journaling, or cozied up in a nook with a good book.
13. Put on a Show with Shadow Puppets
Use light and shadow to make shadow puppets for a family-friendly activity.You’re sure to entertain each other and flex your creative muscles.
Winter Camping Activities for the Adventurous
14. Go Snowboarding or Downhill Skiing
Hit the slopes! While snowboarding and skiing require more skill than cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, it’s never too late to sign up for lessons and start learning.
15. Try Ice Fishing
Have you only seen ice fishing in movies? It’s a real winter sport and can be tons of fun, especially if you’re an avid fisher in the summer. You’ll need an ice fishing pole, an auger, and lures for ice fishing–which you can rent from a local shop if you don’t have them already. Ice fishing can also be meditative and calming.
Make sure to check that the ice is safe before walking on it–it must be thick enough to support your weight.
16. Bathe in a Thermal Spring
Though these aren’t available everywhere, if there’s a natural hot spring near your campsite, consider adding it to your itinerary. Soaking in a thermal spring can be incredibly relaxing, plus it’s not something you get to do every day, let alone on a summer camping trip.
17. Ride Snowmobiles
Got a need for speed? Snowmobiling may be right up your alley. You can rent one locally if you don’t own one already. Lots of forests and state parks have trails marked specifically for snowmobilers.
18. Snow Golf
Calling all avid golfers! Have you tried golfing in the snow? Keep it casual and fun, it doesn’t need to be a competitive endeavor. Some folks enjoy snow golfing on a real golf course, but you can also create your own course next to your campsite. Be sure to use brightly colored golf balls so you can find them in the snow.
What are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to start planning a winter camping getaway. Find and instantly book your next Campspot on Campspot.com.
Emily Hessney Lynch is a small business owner, reader, and writer. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and their three rescue dogs. They love getting outside year-round and enjoy paddle boarding, hiking, and snowshoeing. You can follow her on Instagram at @servemethesky.