Finding Wintertime Adventures in the Great Outdoors


 Six practical ways to enjoy nature all year round

You can try putting on shorts and a Hawaiian shirt in an effort to pretend you are somewhere tropical, but the reality is snow and freezing temperatures are a clear reminder that we’re in the thick of winter. For many that often means retreating indoors and the onset of cabin fever.

Yet it doesn’t have to end that way. It might be cold outside, but there are still plenty of ways to enjoy nature during this time of the year.

Here are a few ideas that will help you enjoy the outdoors even during the winter months!

Take a hike and notice a different kind of scenery.

Midwestern winters often come with a few days of reprieve and slightly warmer temperatures. Take advantage of these nice days, invest in some warm clothing and go find some nature trails.

Consider returning to the location of some of your favorite summer hikes as the scenery looks completely different this time of year. Densely forested areas are now barren of leaves, and you can see much further around the landscape than you could before. What features of the land are now apparent that wasn’t before? Perhaps some lakes and streams along the trail are frozen over. How does that change the look of the scenery?

Additionally, it’s likely much quieter outside now than during the summer when animals and insects are more active. Enjoy the calm serenity and pay attention to the softer noises you hear now that you don’t hear in the summer.

Keep on grilling.

Outdoor cooking doesn’t have to be a summer-only activity. Consider purchasing a thermal cover for your smoker and keep on making the fresh food all year round. Brisket, ribs and pork chops can all be winter comfort foods.

Explore winter wildlife and conservation activities.

The Midwest has various opportunities to see wildlife during the winter, so be sure to follow the state conservation departments for activities involving winter wildlife.

Missouri, for example, has excellent eagle viewing opportunities near lakes and rivers. Winter is also an ideal time to make maple sugar from trees, an activity the kids are sure to savor to the end.

Additionally, don’t rule out the possibility of camping in the winter. Follow the weather forecast, choose a time when it’s not quite so cold, and have warm camping gear handy. Many state parks and conservation areas have camping opportunities that likely won’t be as crowded during winter. While you are at it, learn the tricks of ice fishing and see what all might still be biting this time of year.

For more information on wildlife and conservation activities, check out:
Missouri Department of Conservation at mdc.mo.gov
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism at ksoutdoors.com
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at wildlifedepartment.com

Gather around a fire pit.

What better way to stay warm outside than for everyone to roast smores around a fire pit? It’s also a great way to make memories and spend time talking together as a family. The warmth from the fire pit can keep everyone comfortable outside, allowing you to watch the early sunset together.

Have fun in the snow.

Invest in some good snow gear for the whole family, and be prepared to play outside when the opportunity arises. The fun isn’t just for kids! Get serious about your snowman and snow-fort building, and follow it up with a classic snowball fight. Challenge your engineering skills in the snow and see if you can build an igloo. All members of the family will find that such outdoor winter play is surprisingly good fitness as well.

Of course, no winter would be complete without sledding. Race down your favorite sledding hills enjoys the competition and note which types of sleds go the fastest.

Take up winter sports.

There are multiple outdoor skating rinks and skiing areas available, so try out these sports you can only do at this time of the year. A fun-filled day of skiing at Snow Creek in Weston, Missouri, will prepare you to take on bigger and better hills and mountains in the future.

Spring will come soon enough, but while it is still winter don’t miss out on unique outdoor opportunities simply because it might involve bundling up!