Winter is arguably one of the most magical seasons, with snow-covered mountains ready to be explored. Luckily, spots across North America offer plenty of seasonal activities for those who don't want to hit the slopes. Here are 10 off-piste experiences that will make you yearn for a frosty escape.
1. Game on
Where: Perched between two mountain ranges southeast of Missoula, Montana, The Ranch at Rock Creek is a blend of meadows and forested hilltops making it a prime location for experiencing the dude ranch life.
Winter adventure: With over 6,600 acres of diverse topography, there's bound to be a few outdoor experiences available to nature lovers. Of course, you have the classics like ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling through the nearby national forest and sledding. But, guests can also partake in more unique activities like learning to shoot at one of the five ranges onsite or mine for sapphires with experts on hand. And if you're looking to just cozy up, the only Forbes Travel 5-Star dude ranch has their Silver Dollar Saloon available to reserve that features a movie theater, bowling, and billiards. Let the games begin!
2. Snow patrol duty
Where: The Little Nell is in the center of it all. Just a one-minute walk to Aspen Mountain, the five-star, five-diamond property makes it easy to explore the famous ski town and have a respite.
Winter adventure: Given the hotel's proximity to the mountain, they've been able to grant guests exclusive access to coveted seasonal experiences. While skiers can enjoy taking a few runs before the mountain opens to the public, others can partake in Snowcat Powder tours or learn to drive a snowcat and even sweep the mountain at day's end with Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol.
3. Animal adventures
Where: Triple Creek Ranch is the epitome of Big Sky Country as it's situated 75 miles south of Missoula on almost 30,000 acres within the Rockies.
Winter adventures: The all-inclusive property wants guests to embrace the wild. That's why in addition to offering snowmobiling and fat-tire snow biking to explore the expansive grounds, they've also enlisted the help of some four-legged friends to enhance the connection with nature. A cowboy will take you out to make the first tracks in the snow on horseback, Or you can get behind a team of eager sled dogs who will take you on a thrilling ride along snowy ridges.
4. Personal powder paradise
Where: Although it's in the heart of the Green Mountain state in Barnard, Vermont, Twin Farms turns into a white winter wonderland with 300 acres of wandering trails and rolling hills.
Winter adventures: Thanks to the six private ski slopes on the property, the hotel is heaven for skiers. But that exclusive access is available off the mountains, too, as Twin Farms' private lake Copper Pond turns into a personal ice skating rink in the winter with hot toddies service. And for those days you just want to stay indoors, the casual pub comes stocked with a vintage Jukebox, billiards table, and Steinway grand piano ready to be played.
5. Snowy service
Where: Once the Rockefellers’ camp, The Point is now an intimate resort in the Adirondacks, one of the most stunning pieces of land along Upper Saranac Lake.
Winter adventures: A majestic calm takes over when snow is on the ground, and a dedicated team is waiting to help you explore however you wish. Snowshoes, hiking boots, and ice skates are all on hand should you choose to try any (or all) of those shoreline activities. And cozy bonfires set up across the property ensure that you'll never get too cold or too far from a fireside treat. There's even a fully stocked ice-bar on the lake so you can sip and skate.
6. Fire and ice
Where: Head just across the mountain from Telluride, Colorado, and you'll find Dunton Hot Springs, aka an 1800's ghost turned luxury resort in the middle of the San Juan Mountains.
Winter adventures: Take a cue from the hotel's name, and you'll know exactly why this property is a winter gem. Tucked away in the middle of the snow, there's a natural hot spring where you can immerse yourself in the soothing water in five ways. Choose between temperatures from 85°F to 106°F and locations like the restored 19th-century Bathhouse, the pool outside the Bathhouse, the pool behind the Dunton Store cabin, inside Well House cabin, or under the expansive dark sky in the hot spring itself.
7. Olympic dream
Where: Situated along the shores of Lake Placid, Lake Placid Lodge feels a world away due to its incredible vistas, even though it's just 10 minutes from downtown.
Winter adventures: Lake Placid Lodge is the spot to make all your Olympic dreams come true. Here you can ride with a professional driver and brakeman down one of America's only Olympic bobsled tracks in the winter. Opt to skate outside on the Olympic Skating Oval, where Eric Heiden won a record five gold medals during the 1980 games. Or, simply ride the chairlift and glass elevator to the Sky Deck and marvel at the gold medal views.
8. Dashing through the snow
Where: The Pitcher Inn in Warren, Vermont sits along Main Street in a picturesque New England village at the base of Sugarbush Resort. From here you can access the quaint shops and stunning Green Mountains.
Winter adventures: It's all about stepping back in time and slowing down time at this 11-room property. Head out for a morning of snowshoeing or an afternoon of fly fishing to exploring the awe-inspiring Mad River Valley. But for that quintessential snowy escape, hop in a traditional horse-drawn sleigh for a tour of the area before returning to the resort where your themed room (think vintage ski lodge or colonial) awaits.
9. Dog days of winter
Where: The Post Hotel in Lake Louise is one of the most picturesque locations in all of Canada. Head two hours west of Calgary International airport, and you'll find yourself in the village of Lake Louise nestled in the heart of Banff National Park.
Winter adventures: Given its location in the Canadian Rockies, The Post Hotel is ideal for adrenaline junkies. You can go heli-skiing or hop on a snowmobile to trek across the landscape. However, one of the most enthralling experiences relies on dog power versus horse or man power. The property can set up a dog sledding tour from 30 minutes up to four hours, where you'll whizz through the snowy landscape with your new furry friends.
10. Break the ice
Where: Manoir Hovey's spot along the shores of Lake Massawippi treats guests to unobstructed water views while being just across from North Hatley, one of Quebec's most charming villages.
Winter adventure: The simplicity of lake life is only enhanced by the peaceful winter months. You won't find a laundry list of activities to try, but rather a select few that enhance a slower-paced lifestyle. Try your hand at snowshoeing around the inn or get an ice fishing lesson from expert Florent Hébert on the lake while being served homemade artisanal pizza and sipping on hot drinks.