Ultimate winter adventure guide and tips: Outdoor winter activities you can safely enjoy this season

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Krystal Krause, back, and her daughter, Magnolia Krause, 5, ride a tube down a hill during a snowstorm, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Lutherville-Timonium, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

UTAH (ABC4) – Are you tired of being locked inside all year? Despite the cold setting in, more adventure awaits!

As COVID-19 keeps most of us away from concerts, parties, and other indoor events, fun outdoor activities are a loophole to spicing up your winter.

Skiing

“The pandemic may have canceled a lot of things this year, but it can’t keep skiers from enjoying the Greatest Snow on Earth. Many resorts in Utah are open, with guidelines in place for keeping everyone safe from COVID-19. If you’re wondering what new precautions are in place, here’s what you should know before you hit the slopes,” shares Intermountain Healthcare.

  • Face coverings are required. All 15 Utah ski areas will require face coverings that align with CDC recommendations when social distancing isn’t possible. This applies to both outdoor and indoor spaces, except when eating or drinking. 
  • Practice social distancing. Lift queues, ticket queues, ski and snowboard lessons, employee spaces, and food outlets will all encourage appropriate spacing to allow social distancing between parties. 
  • Ski resorts will be cleaning and disinfecting regularly. High-touch surfaces, such as bathrooms, restaurants, dining facilities, ticket offices, and rental shops will all be cleaned and disinfected following CDC guidelines
  • Operating plans may change. To optimize safety, Utah ski areas may review and change their operating plans to comply with local regulations. 

For more information, visit SkiUtah.com.

Hiking and snowshoeing

Utah has a beUTAHful landscape, and to truly experience it in all its glory, embarking on snowy mountain ranges is the only way to go – you don’t have to be a skier.

According to IMHC, Utah provides plenty of opportunities for hikers to explore the winter terrain with its waterfalls, rivers, peaks, and wildlife. But the key to enjoying your hiking adventure is being prepared with the proper gear, snacks, and necessary equipment.

For a list of the best winter hikes in Utah – including safety tips – click here. 

Some Utah ski resorts have designated snowshoeing trails that are family-friendly and good for beginners. Nordic Centers are available at the following resorts:

Ice fishing at Bear Lake

Ice fishing is also a unique way to stay active and be involved during the winter months. The fish tend to move in closer to shore starting in January, so why not go now?

According to Utah, an online Utah-based travel guide, Bloomington Lake is the place to go and though fishing is free a fishing license is required.

Dog sledding in Park City

“Gliding through the snow-filled meadows will become a fond family memory you’ll never forget. Especially when your youngest grows up and wins the Iditarod,” shares the Utah travel guide site.

A dog sledding excursion costs $420. It’s available in every season (wild, right?) and rides can range from 25 minutes to one hour.

Snow tubing and sledding

“There are two types of people in Utah: those who are on their feet lapping lifts on a powder day, and those who prefer to sit on their butts. Don’t be misled: The latter aren’t lazier or lamer than all the skiers and snowboarders out there. They are savvy sliders who know you don’t have to go broke to enjoy the Greatest Snow on Earth. They also know where the best snow tubing and sledding hills are. Spoiler alert: So do we! And we’re sharing these totally tubular places with you,” shares Utah.

Tips for safely enjoying outdoor activities

According to Intermountain Healthcare, it’s just as important to protect yourself from the elements just as it is important in protecting yourself from COVID-19.

Now that you’ve got a good list of ideas for staying active this winter, here are some safety tips to keep in mind as you venture out into the cold.

  • Be avalanche aware. If your plans include venturing into the snowy mountains, make sure you’re aware of potential avalanche hazards. Avalanches kill 150 people worldwide each year, and in most cases they’re triggered by human activity. While there are tips to protect yourself in the event of an avalanche, the best way to stay safe is to avoid them altogether. To learn more, visit the Utah Avalanche Center.
  • Prevent frostbite and hypothermia. Knowing the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia is important since many people are numb (literally) to their onset. Red and painful skin, numbness, shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech, and memory loss are all warning signs. If someone’s temperature falls below 95 degrees, the CDC recommends seeking medical attention immediately.
  • Dress appropriately. Since your body loses heat faster than you can produce it in the cold weather, make sure you dress appropriately. Wear a hat, boots, gloves, and layers of loose-fitting, water-resistant clothing. Pay special attention to vulnerable areas for frostbite, such as the nose, ears, toes, cheeks, chin, and fingers. If your plans include high-cardio exercises like running, follow these guidelines.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids is just as important during the winter season as it is in the summertime. Since the cold air is dryer, it’s easier to become dehydrated. If you plan to exercise for an hour or more, Active recommends replenishing your fluids as well as your electrolytes and carbohydrates. Since Utah is at a higher elevation, this is especially important.
  • Use sunblock. Yes, even in the wintertime, you need to protect your skin. In Utah, the UV exposure risk increases due to higher elevation and poor air quality in the winter. To stay safe, avoid sun exposure during the peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), use broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen daily (even on cloudy and snowy days), and make sure your skin and eyes are covered up.
  • Monitor weather conditions. Always check the weather forecast before heading out for your winter run, hike, or snowshoeing excursion. Inclement weather may force you to alter your plans, but it’ll be better than getting stranded on a mountaintop in the middle of a snowstorm.
  • Tell someone where you’re going. Outdoor winter adventures are fun, but the risks may be higher, depending on the activity you choose. A good rule-of-thumb for safety is to always tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return — especially if you’re heading into a remote area, such as the mountains. 

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