Last weekend I was chilling out in cowboy country – Cody, Wyoming to be exact. I had a great time Snowshoeing, but do you know what my favourite activity was? Snowshoeing. It was so much fun – I like hiking, but the options to go off piste and the amazing quiet with a layer of snow over everything made it a lot more interesting than hiking. Snowshoes are pretty sophisticated these days – they contain a lot of engineering, including a “cleat” which helps you go up and down hills and navigate icy terrain.
I decided to add more snowshoeing to my priority list – it is one of the fastest growing winter sports in North America – and asked a few folk in the community about snowshoeing recommendations. Here’s are your suggestions for some of the best places to go snowshoeing.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Why not start with where I started! My jaunt on showshoes was in Sleeping Giant, a ski resort area just outside the east gates of Yellowstone and a half hour drive from Cody. It must be the cutest little ski area in the American west, the perfect place to teach your youngsters to ski or to just have a relaxed winter weekend. Sleeping Giant has 12 miles of groomed trails, but here’s the crazy thing – you could technically ski into Yellowstone National Park. The park is closed, but apparently you can ski in and ski around. And if you wanted to make it a whole trip, Xanterra (who run the lodges in the park) offer snowcoach services to get you to the start of trails and what not. What a wonderful way to explore the world’s oldest national park?
Queenstown, New Zealand
Everyone knows how much I adore New Zealand – and Queenstown especially, which has to be the most fun you’ll ever have in a town that is surrounded by nothing but mother nature. Actually Queenstown is more well known for its winter sports – skiing – but actually there are plenty of trails perfect for showshoeing, particularly on the Remarkables. But year-round you can get all things Queenstown: beers and bars, cheap and tasty meals, and a great relaxed atmosphere.
Sierra Navada, Spain
Nevada County, Colorado
It is no surprise that Colorado, known for some of the best skiing in the world, also makes our list for places to go snowshoeing. The hot tip is to head for Delta County, where you’ll find the Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail, the longest snowbobiling trail in the lower 48 states. You don’t have to hike the 123 miles, but you’ll surely find a stretch perfect to wander. In Delta County you’ll also find the Skyway Trail System (perfect for gentle daytripping), the County Line Trail System (killer views) and the Ward Lake Trail System (a little more aerobic with higher views).
It is believed that the first snowshoes-like devices used for over-snow travel originated all the way back in Central Asia about 4000 B.C. While their original purpose was far more practical, today you can burn 45% more calories snowshoeing than walking or running at the same speed.
Cypress Mountain, British Columbia
If you find yourself out doing some Vancouver sightseeing in the winter, then do as the locals do and head for Cypress Mountain. It has about 6 miles of trail and it is easy to access from the city, making it perfect for tourists – and on a sunny, clear day the views are superb. Whistler is another option that you can easily get to from Vancouver, though you’ll probably want to spend the night.
There are plenty of other spectacular snowshoeing spots in British Columbia – Kimberley Alpine Resorts, Yoho National Park, and Mount Washington over on Vancouver Island are all top picks.
Believe it or not, Japan is a budding hotspot for snowshoeing – now there are all sorts of guided tours and packages you can pick up from Tokyo, and many of them are require reasonable! I think a guide might not be a bad idea given that much of the terrain around Japan is pretty mountainous so you’ll want some help choosing a suitable route; many of the tours and recommended routes (easy to get to from Tokyo) point to Yatsugatake, which has trails to suit all abilities, as well as huts that are open year round if you want to spend the night with mother nature and extend your time on the trails.
What better reward after a day of snowshoeing than to sit back with a warm beverage and enjoy the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights? That’s exactly what you’ll get to do if you choose one of the many snowshoeing trips and packages that are on offer way up here in the great white north. You could probably walk non-stop for weeks, but really, wouldn’t it be more fun to spend several hours walking, and then take refuge in your warm cozy cabin, complete with hardy good food and yummy beverages? Now that’s luxury.
Last by not least, we end up in South America, down at the tip in Patagonia, home to some of the world’s most scenic backdrops – glaciers, jagged mountain peaks, and beautiful valleys await. Bariloche (short for San carlos de Bariloche) is the tourism hotspot, open year round for hiking, skiing, showshoeing, and watersports. The mountain range is called Cerro Catedral, and you can go for miles on the trails that lead you around lakes and forests. And back in town, you get to end the day with local chocolates and an atmosphere as charming as you’d get in an old Swiss chalet. Perfect.
Be sure to talk to our travel concierge if you want to book a trip with a snowshoeing package. Any hot tips for showshoeing trails you’ve enjoyed?