7 winter activities for adventurous Canadians

Snowboarders dropped off on a mountain for heli skiing Photo by Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock

Winter may seem like a season designed exclusively for curling up with a good book—but ask any outdoor enthusiast, and they’ll tell you it’s the perfect time of year to get outdoors.

Even if you’re not into extreme sports, here are endless ways to get outside this winter. Here are just seven of them.

Winter camping

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You don’t have to be a quinzee builder or an igloo architect to sleep outdoors when there’s snow on the ground. (Then again, if you’re up for the challenge, we applaud you.) Even first-timers can enjoy winter camping, provided that they’re equipped with the right gear: a four-season tent, a sleeping bag rated for winter, and a good attitude. To prepare, check out Mountain Equipment Co-op’s beginner’s guide to winter camping.

Ice climbing 

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Long a popular activity in the Rocky Mountains, ice climbing is now in its formative stages elsewhere in Canada. In southern Ontario, a growing number of excursions take climbers to Hamilton, Elora, the southern Niagara escarpment and Muskoka, where they learn to use specialized tools to scale frozen waterfalls.

Fat biking

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With tires built for gliding across the snow and some newer models even incorporating motor assist, it’s clear that fat biking isn’t just a fad. The last couple of years have seen resorts, parks and ski resorts across Canada start to add kilometres of groomed and ungroomed trails. Some national parks, such as Kouchibouguac in New Brunswick, even have fat bikes available for rental.

Ice tagging

Love to write your name in the snow with, er, whatever means you have at your disposal? Then this is the activity for you. Strap on your snowshoes and head to La Maurice National Park in Quebec’s Laurentians. Once there, reserve your fresh field of snow atop a frozen lake and grab a pattern or create your own. Then, run across the snow to make your mark. Once you’re done, head to a lookout for view your artwork.

Heliskiing

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Sick of the same old runs at your slope? Heliskiing or heliboarding is the answer. Best for the James Bond types (with the budgets to match), this activity will transport you via helicopter to a remote backcountry location with fresh powder. For example, Whistler Heliskiing, which operates in BC, has access to 475 runs in an area 50 times bigger than Whistler Blackcomb for big-sized adventures.

Ice bowling

If you’re looking for a new winter activity that’s family friendly, ice bowling may be the answer. It almost seems like sacrilege to suggest rather than Canada’s second-favourite winter sport (curling), but this 10-pin game is fun for all ages. Try it out at FortWhyte Alive, on the outskirts of Winnipeg.

Visit a winter Olympic Park

Don’t let your dreams of competing in the Olympics die! Instead, live them out at one of Canada’s former Olympic parks. At Winsport in Calgary, you can do everything from snow tubing to bobsledding.  And at Whistler Olympic Park,you can even learn to “ski fast and shoot straight” on the biathlon course.

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