Snow skiing, snowboarding, sledding and ice skating are only part of the winter sports scene in the United States. From the Alaskan frontier to the woods of New England to Pennsylvania’s beloved Pocono Mountains, the USA also shows its offbeat side through less familiar snow activities. Check out these three experiences. Just don’t forget to pack warm clothes and a sense of adventure.
Dog Sledding in Alaska and Maine
It’s been Alaska’s official sport since 1972, but dog sledding, also known as mushing, has been part of the region’s culture for centuries. Mushing involves riding on a sled that is pulled by a group of powerful dogs. One of the most popular places to try dog sledding is Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, located about 65 kilometers outside of Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city (population: 301,010). The resort partners with different tour operators to offer dog sled tours. Check with the resort concierge about options, times and prices.
On the East Coast, Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry, Maine, located 20 kilometers from the Sunday River ski resort in the western part of the state, offers multiday dog-sledding excursions through the Mahoosuc Mountains and the area near Umbagog Lake, which straddles the Maine-New Hampshire border. Two- or three-day tours include campfire-cooked meals and use of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter camping equipment. The nearest airport is in Portland, Maine, about 120 kilometers from Newry.
Snowkiting in New England
Snowkiting is exactly what it sounds like: You’re pulled across the snow by a kite. However, the kite looks more like a small parachute and functions like a sail. Put on your helmet and strap into a harness that’s connected to a kite. The wind will propel you across snow and ice — and even into the air. You can go extremely fast. Experienced snowkiters can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour. New England lakes, which often freeze over during winter, are some of the best places to try the sport. Current hot spots include Lake Winnipesaukee and Chocorua Lake in New Hampshire, Moosehead Lake in Maine and Lake Champlain in Vermont. If you’re new to snowkiting, it’s best to learn from experts. Hardwater Kiting in North Conway, New Hampshire, offers snowkiting lessons, safety guidance and equipment.
The members of the staff are certified snowkiting instructors who are familiar with northern New England backcountry. North Conway is in rural New Hampshire, 220 kilometers from Boston, Massachusetts, and 74 kilometers from Lake Winnipesaukee.
Snow tubing in Pennsylvania
Snow tubing is a simple and slightly silly way to get down a mountain. It’s also lots of fun. You sit in a tube and let gravity propel you down the mountain. You can find this family-friendly experience throughout the U.S. The heart of the Pocono Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania is home to Camelback Mountain Resort, which claims to be the largest snow tubing park in the United States. The resort has 42 tubing lanes and two “magic carpet” conveyors to carry you and your tube back up the peak. Single and double tubes are available for rent, so parents and children can ride together if they’d like.
Weekend and holiday snow tubing is limited to three-hour sessions to help control crowds. Midweek and nonholiday snow tubing is unlimited. If you would rather ride a tube down a waterslide, Camelback offers that, too, at its indoor waterpark. The waterpark is part of the Camelback Lodge, a new property at the base of Camelback Mountain. Opened in the spring of 2015, the lodge has 453 rooms, three restaurants and several snack bars. The resort is about 150 kilometers from New York City, and Philadelphia is about 160 kilometers away.