Winter blues already? It’s snow problem

By Shelby Morris

Welcome to winter wonderland in Bozeman- it’s time hit the slopes and enjoy the snowy outdoors. But wait, you don’t ski? You’ve never snowboarded? Uh-oh. Minimal daylight and frigid walks have you locked inside feeling left-out and bored. The bad news? This dreaded cold has just begun. The good news is there’s plenty to do outside besides skiing or snowboarding. Check it out:

Winter Picnic

What better motivator to get you out of the house than food? Pack a lunch and a blanket, then walk to the closest park. Some favorites are Pete’s Hill and Cooper Park. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate or cider to keep warm, and enjoy the park full of dog walkers and sledders. This activity is optimal for a weekend lunch, and could also double as a study break.

Sledding

Sledding is a classic way to have fun in the snow, so head to Pete’s Hill and let the outdoor entertainment begin. Watching people fly off a jump and wipe out can be just as thrilling as going off the jump yourself. Don’t have the gear? Sleds at Wal-Mart are as cheap as $5. If you have any water tubes from summer laying around, those work too. Challenge yourself to find new sledding spots on your favorite hikes or around your neighborhood.

Hiking

Work up a sweat in the cold and take a hike. Check out Palisade Falls and Grotto Falls in Hyalite to see some frozen waterfalls.  For some closer options, there’s always the M, Drinking Horse and Triple Tree. Wear a good pair of snow boots and pack a bag with snacks and warmer gear just in case the weather turns. Don’t go if it’s too cold, and keep track of when the sun sets to give yourself plenty of time to complete the hike in daylight. Winter walks will have you taking off layers before you know it.

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Students, find that survival coupon booklet. Full-day cross country skis with boots and snowshoe rentals cost just a penny at Bob Ward’s. Tip: when you go, make sure to bring your driver’s license and a credit card. Can’t find your coupon book? Rentals are about $10 per day without the student coupon discount. Trails for both activities can be found at the golf course and throughout Hyalite. Get an early start and check for snow conditions that aren’t too icy. Beginners shouldn’t be intimidated, anyone can get the hang of it after a few minutes.

Ice Skating

Another classic outdoor winter activity is ice skating. Here in Bozeman there are two main rinks: The Ressler Motors Ice Rink at the fairgrounds and Haynes Pavilion. You can rent a pair of skates for only $5 and go any time they are open for public skate. Be aware that this is a busy place for figure skaters and hockey players of all ages, so check for open skate before you go. Since rentals are only available at the rink, you might want to visit second hand stores and get your own pair for a steal. Ice skating is perfect for days when snow and weather conditions aren’t the best but you still want to get outside. Schedules for both rinks are located at bozemanhockey.org.

Bonfire

S’mores are undeniably good year-round, and the flames will keep you toasty on the coldest of days. Again, Hyalite is a go-to destination for bonfire lovers. All campsite fire pits are fair game to use, as well as clear-cut spots in the woods. Buy some wood at the store before you head out, and don’t forget kindling. Invite your friends and make some hot cocoa to bring along.

So, what are you waiting for? Get outside in that snow. After all, winter is Montana’s specialty, so enjoy its offerings and shake off those winter blues.