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Eight Outdoor Things To Do In Alberta This Winter If You Hate Skiing

COOL WINTER GUIDE: Stories and information for all things winter in Alberta. If you’re an Albertan who isn’t a fan of skiing, you might be wondering what you’re supposed to do with yourself all winter long. We’ve got your back.

Here’s a collection of outdoor winter activities that aren’t skiing.

We’re just going to go ahead and say it: not everybody likes skiing! You can absolutely live in a place that snows without adoring skiing or snowboarding. While you may feel like it sometimes, we promise you are absolutely not alone. Now, just because you don’t ski doesn’t mean that you refuse to go outside during the winter. In fact, it opens up your schedule on winter weekends for a whole slew of other amazing outdoor activities. So, let’s get outside and enjoy everything our province has to offer besides skiing and snowboarding. Here’s a list of incredible outdoor activities to enjoy this winter across Alberta.

Ice Fishing

You may not know this, but Alberta is heaven on earth for icefishers. Alberta is home to some of the best ice fishing spots in the country, with a wide variety of fish species waiting to be caught. As such, there are tons of guided tours, places to buy gear, and resources for you to lean on if you’re new to the catch. Some amazing places to visit for a great ice fishing experience include Gull Lake, Sylvan Lake, Lesser Slave Lake, Wabamun Lake, or Pigeon Lake. These popular destinations offer beautiful surroundings for you to enjoy a relaxing winter day with your friends and, hopefully, have a delicious fish dinner later on.

Alberta Fishing Charters

Fat Biking

If you have yet to try fat biking, this winter is your time to shine. Fat biking is a super fun way to enjoy biking throughout the winter months. The wide tires allow for riding on diverse terrain like snow, sand, or mud. They offer easier balance, better grip, and smoother riding in conditions you wouldn’t typically think of biking. Just like regular biking, you can easily cater the activity to match your level, and there are tons of trails and destinations suitable for everyone from beginners to experts. If you want to try fat biking, there are many great places to go. You can fat bike anywhere, really, whether you’re biking around a more urban area or heading to the mountains to find more difficult trails. If you’re not much of a biker, you can consider taking a lesson or tour. If you’re confident, you can rent a bike to try it out for yourself. Be aware, that things can get pretty slippery, so be sure to research conditions before you set out. And, last but most importantly, wear your helmet and protective gear.

Alberta Parks

Snow Tubing

If you’re not a skier, but you don’t mind going to a ski hill, snow tubing is an absolute blast for people of all ages. Think of it as an elevated version of tobogganing. There are tons of places to go, including Nighthawk Adventure Park outside of Grand Prarie, Kinsoo Ridge in Cold Lake, Edmonton Ski Club Tube Park, Drayton Valley Brazeau Ski Club, Mt. Norquay in Banff, and the list goes on. Rates may vary, as well as timeslots and open hours, but most places are relatively affordable, and you’re sure to have a thrilling and fun day on the hill without having to put on a pair of skis.

Wild Skating

Wild skating is one of Alberta’s claims to fame in the winter. Wild skating is when you go ice skating on one of our province's natural skating rinks, a.k.a. ponds or lakes. It’s an amazing way to have fun and get some exercise while taking in gorgeous views of your natural surroundings covered in snow. Some places to consider are Lac Mildred, Pyramid Lake, Cascade Pond, Two Jack Lake, Lake Louise, Linnet Lake, Abraham Lake, Astotin Lake, and Sylvan Lake, to name a few. There’s nothing better than gliding across sparkling ice and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate with your friends.

Winter Hiking

We don’t want your hiking season to end when the snow falls. There are beautiful places to be discovered year-round across Alberta, and while winter hiking may require some more layers, it can be just as fun and unlock a whole new world of beautiful views. Consider checking out Rawson Lake, Troll Falls, Prairie Mountain, Johnston Canyon, Elk Island National Park, Badlands Interpretive Trail, or any of the countless others scattered around the province. You might encounter frozen waterfalls, ice formations, and snow-topped mountains along the way.

Dog Sledding

Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours

What’s more Canadian than racing down a snowy trail behind a team of sled dogs? If you haven’t had the pleasure of going dog sledding in Alberta, we urge you to give it a try. You seriously feel like you’re going a  million miles an hour, and nothing beats the rush of watching those pups sprinting along in front of you. Between the energy of the dogs, the beauty of your winter surroundings, and the speed, you won’t find a feeling like this anywhere else. There are a few incredible tour operators in Alberta that you should partner with for your adventure because this isn’t exactly something you can pull off by yourself. Do your research, gather your friends, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.

Hot Springs

If you want to spend some time outside, but you’re more in the mood for a relaxing day than an exhilarating athletic adventure, exploring Alberta’s hot springs might be in the cards. The province has several amazing hot springs for you to soak your troubles away, and we hope you manage to take a dip in at least one this winter.

Take a Polar Plunge

While this isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s absolutely a memorable activity. A polar plunge includes jumping into freezing cold water. You can enhance this experience by picking a beautiful natural body of water for your plunge. Many charities use polar plunges as an opportunity to raise funds, so you can find one near you to share the experience with others and contribute to a worthy cause. This activity must be done with a ton of caution, and you shouldn’t do it alone. Be sure to go somewhere safe and tested for plunging, and ensure you do your research before you dip.

Britanny Burr is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the 2023/24 Cool Winter Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.

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