The state of North Dakota turns into a winter wonderland once the snow flies. Despite its reputation for being frigid, North Dakota winters offer a plethora of activities that are perfect for individuals and families that want to interact with nature on an intimate level. Yes, North Dakota is cold, but bundle up that parka and dig out those boots because you aren’t going to want to miss all the state has to offer.
Located in the picturesque Turtle Mountains, the Bottineau Winter Park has been dubbed the “Jewel Above the Prairie.” During the winter, the park is known for its skiing and snowboarding opportunities that are perfect for all skill levels. Novices can find their legs on the beginner’s Southside hill while experienced skiers and snowboarders can try their hand (or feet in this instance) on the ungroomed expert glade runs. With six chair lifts and eight distinct trails, you or your family will have hours of fun in Bottineau. Snow tubing is also available.
Known for its snow tubing, snowboarding, and skiing, Frost Fire is the eastern equivalent to the Bottineau Winter Park. Although the terrain isn’t as naturally diverse as that located in the Turtle Mountains, the man-made hills are equivalent. Snow tubing includes three 600 feet long chutes at speeds that are preferable for both young and old alike. Snowboarders will love the challenge of the Dragon’s Mouth terrain park, while skiers will be able to fly down one of 10 trails that range in difficulty from easiest (green circle) to most difficult (black diamond). Cross-country ski trails are also available.
Located on the western slope of the Missouri River, Huff Hills is a great destination for snow lovers of all types. With a 450-foot vertical drop and 16 distinct runs, Huff Hills is the largest ski area in North Dakota. Whether you are a skier or snowboarder, this resort will truly give you a run for your money. Lessons are available for both individuals and groups. In addition, the mountain’s base includes meals cooked in a stone fireplace and two floors of seating that offer exceptional views of the landscape.
Does anything beat curling up with your sweetheart next to a roaring fire? Think “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Cross Ranch State Park offers cabin rentals that are ideal for a winter getaway. In addition, the park includes an extensive trail system that is perfect for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or a good old-fashioned walk in the woods. Open year-round, Cross Ranch is a perfect place to unplug for a few days and enjoy your own personal winter wonderland.
Located in the heart of the badlands, Eagle Ridge has dedicated itself to preserving a way of life that is often forgotten in today’s fast-paced and digital society. The lodge sits high atop a ridge overlooking a picturesque canyon. Few places offer the type of serenity and peaceful communing with nature as that found at Eagle Ridge. Whether you are looking for a place for your holiday get-together or a romantic place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday living, this lodge is for you.
Tucked away near the Tongue River, Moose Creek is another of the state’s hidden gem. The lodge’s intimate setting allows for a tranquil, peaceful experience that will have you returning season after season. The highlight of the visit will most assuredly be the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing soak in the outdoor spa while observing the area’s diverse wildlife, taking in stars far brighter than those found in the city, enjoying a colorful sunset, or observing the spectacular Northern Lights.
Believe it or not, ice fishing is one of the most popular winter activities in North Dakota. Most people are likely visualizing a frozen fisherman staring blankly into a small hole in the ice, but the activity is much more than that. Today’s ice fisherman does so in small portable houses that offer all the comforts of home—most importantly, heat. The competitive nature of ice fishing is a bit different than that of regular fishing, which is one of the reasons it is so popular. Although any lake in the state can provide fishing opportunities, the most popular destinations are Devils Lake, Lake Metigoshe State Park, and Icelandic State Park.
The state of North Dakota includes over 2,800 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails. The individual routes are too numerous to list, but a complete trail map can help you map out your next run.
Few things are as indicative of winter as ice skating. Whether on a frozen pond, river, or man-made rink, skating is to winter what beaches are to the sun. Virtually all North Dakota towns have at least one skating area, with major cities boasting both indoor and outdoor rinks.
Cross-country skiing is another popular winter activity enjoyed by both residents and visitors alike. The state’s landscape combines flat prairies and rolling hills to provide skiers with opportunities to challenge themselves on a variety of levels. North Dakota has made a commitment to keeping cross-country skiing trails groomed and available throughout the winter. Although many cities have locally-sponsored trails, the state also has a variety of state parks, forests, and recreational areas that provide lengthier and more challenging trails.
Although snowshoeing may not enjoy the popularity of skiing, tubing, and snowboarding, it is a challenging and enjoyable activity nonetheless. Snowshoeing allows users to venture into dense areas that might otherwise be unavailable because of deep snow. Every major state park in North Dakota allows snowshoeing, with many providing distinct trails and rentals.
For those that have never been curling, it is an ultra-competitive sport that requires an equal amount of skill and strategy. Yes, curling is the sport with the big disk and tiny brooms, but the game is much more than that. Many cities throughout North Dakota have competitive leagues, lessons, and open ice time. The most active clubs in the state are the FM Curling Club located in Fargo, the Minot Curling Club located in Minot, the Grand Forks Curling Club in Grand Forks, the Capital Curling Club in Bismarck, and the Lake Region Curling Club in Devils Lake.