Photos: America's Most Thrilling Winter Activities

Baby, it's cold outside—but that doesn't mean you have to stay indoors. From bobsledding like an Olympian to viewing the Northern Lights, here are 11 destinations to hit before the snow melts.

  1. Thanks to its proximity to the North Pole, and the lack of urban light pollution, the area around Fairbanks, Alaska, is one of the best places to take in the Aurora Borealis.

    (Gary Whitton /
  2. The green ribbons of light are caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with the earth's atmosphere, and the crystalline skies near Fairbanks, about 360 miles north of Anchorage, come alive.

    (JTB Photo Communications, Inc. / Alamy)
  3. Looking for the Northern Lights outside Fairbanks? The local university offers online forecasts for viewing.

    (Joseph N. Hall /
  4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, may be a premier ski destination, but a much less publicized highlight of a visit to the town is a sleigh ride at the nearby 25,000-acre National Elk Refuge.

    (Jim West / Alamy)
  5. Jackson Hole sits at the foot of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.

    (Dave Ryan / Alamy)
  6. From mid-December to early April, visitors can enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride through Wyoming's National Elk Refuge to see thousands of elk.

    (Dale Jorgenson / SuperStock )
  7. Lake Placid, New York, has hosted the Winter Games twice (in 1932 and 1980), and now caters to visitors seeking their own Olympic-style glory.

    (Courtesy Lake Placid Region/Flickr)
  8. The village of Lake Placid is nestled in New York's Adirondack Mountains.

    (Courtesy Lake Placid Region/Flickr)
  9. Any reasonably fit person can take a bobsled run (with both a professional driver and a brakeman keeping things safe) at Lake Placid's Olympic Sports Complex.

    (ORDA/Dave Schmidt)
  10. Park City, Utah, has three resorts and some of the country's best skiing.

    (Brian Chase /
  11. The best way to get off the crowded runs of Park City, Utah, and really enjoy the countryside is on a snowcat.

    (Betty Leung /
  12. Snowcat tours in Park City allow small groups to travel to parts of the mountains with "virgin" runs untouched by other skiers.

    (Scott Markewitz / Aurora Open / SuperStock )
  13. Snowmobile tours give you access to all areas in and around West Yellowstone, Montana, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park.

    (Martyn Evans / Alamy)
  14. Roads at the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park are not plowed in the winter, so you'll need to rent a snowmobile or book a snow coach tour.

    (Dan Leeth / Alamy)
  15. Snowmobile can be the easiest way to travel through the snowy streets in West Yellowstone, Montana.

    (Yvette Cardozo / Alamy)
  16. The town of Millinocket, Maine, is surrounded by snowy expanses, making it the perfect location for winter activities like dog sledding.

    (Heath Robbins)
  17. In Millinocket, Maine, guests can learn how to harness and drive a team of Alaskan huskies.

    (Dennis Welsh)
  18. The cold air coming off Lake Michigan near Traverse City is perfect for chilling grapes to the right temperatures for ice wine.

    (Courtesy Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau)
  19. Grapes are left on the vine after the harvest to freeze in the chilly northern Michigan air, then picked and turned into ice wine.

    (Courtesy Chateau Grand Traverse)
  20. The townsfolk of Silverton, Colorado, are so committed to winter fun that they refrain from plowing after the first bountiful snowfall so that the fresh powder will pack into a perma-crust for smoother sledding.

    (Sue Barker / Alamy)
  21. The area around Silverton, Colorado, can see average annual snowfalls of 150 inches.

    (Richard Semik /
  22. In winter, residents of Silverton prefer to get around on kicksleds, which are essentially chairs placed on six-foot-long steel runners.

    (Kennan Harvey / Aurora Open / SuperStock )
  23. Crystal curtains of ice form in the caves in Lava Beds National Monument, thanks to temperatures that hover around the freezing point year-round.

    (Courtesy ex_magician/Flickr)
  24. You can rent headlamps at the Lava Beds National Monument visitors' center to more easily navigate the caves.

    (J Mesenberg /
  25. The air may be below zero in the caves, but above ground temperatures range from the 40s to the 20s at Lava Beds National Monument.

    (Courtesy ex_magician/Flickr)
  26. The Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, affectionately known as the Porkies, offer 92 square miles of terrain for cross-country skiing.

    (Jim West / Alamy)
  27. Wisconsin's Ice Age National Scenic Trail encompasses about 620 miles of marked pathways that feature landscapes left behind when glacial ice carved the earth more than 12,000 years ago.

    (Trent Dietsche / Alamy)
  28. In the winter, a section of the Ice Age National Scenic trail is open to snowshoers, and the flat terrain makes it totally doable.  

    (Jay Wanta / Alamy)

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