Coolest Winter Destinations in America

Fairbanks, AKFairbanks, AKFairbanks, AKJackson Hole, WYJackson Hole, WYJackson Hole, WYLake Placid, NYLake Placid, NYLake Placid, NYPark City, UTPark City, UTPark City, UTWest YellowstoneWest YellowstoneWest YellowstoneMillinocket, MEMillinocket, METraverse City, MITraverse City, MISilverton, COSilverton, COSilverton, CODunsmuir, CADunsmuir, CADunsmuir, CASilver City, MIChetek, WIChetek, WI
1 / 28 Photos
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.
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
Looking for the Northern Lights outside Fairbanks? The local university offers online forecasts for viewing.
Joseph N. Hall / Dreamstime.com
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
Jackson Hole sits at the foot of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.
Dave Ryan / Alamy
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
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.
The village of Lake Placid is nestled in New York's Adirondack Mountains.
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
Park City, Utah, has three resorts and some of the country's best skiing.
Brian Chase / Dreamstime.com
The best way to get off the crowded runs of Park City, Utah, and really enjoy the countryside is on a snowcat.
Snowcat tours in Park City allow small groups to travel to parts of the mountains with "virgin" runs untouched by other skiers.
Snowmobile tours give you access to all areas in and around West Yellowstone, Montana, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park.
Martyn Evans / Alamy
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
Snowmobile can be the easiest way to travel through the snowy streets in West Yellowstone, Montana.
Yvette Cardozo / Alamy
The town of Millinocket, Maine, is surrounded by snowy expanses, making it the perfect location for winter activities like dog sledding.
Heath Robbins
In Millinocket, Maine, guests can learn how to harness and drive a team of Alaskan huskies.
Dennis Welsh
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
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
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
The area around Silverton, Colorado, can see average annual snowfalls of 150 inches.
Richard Semik / Dreamstime.com
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
Crystal curtains of ice form in the caves in Lava Beds National Monument, thanks to temperatures that hover around the freezing point year-round.
You can rent headlamps at the Lava Beds National Monument visitors' center to more easily navigate the caves.
J Mesenberg / NPS.gov
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.
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
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
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

Yup, winter is on its way! Ready to have some fun? From bobsledding like an Olympian to viewing the Northern Lights, we've rounded up 11 destinations to hit before the snow melts.

Related Content