Sure, you love the outdoors and the snow, but you’d rather toboggan down the Matterhorn – at Disneyland – than wade into the usual downhill ski-and-board crowds. Now that the clocks have been set back an hour, winter snows are not far behind and alternative ski options abound. Here are five that come to mind.
1. Olympic Oval Ice Rink, Salt Lake City Strap on your skates, practice your Axels, pretend you’re Bobby Orr or just have fun. The Olympic Oval built for the 2002 Winter Games has the fastest ice on Earth and is open to the public year round, offering lessons for beginners and advanced skaters alike. 5662 South 4800 West (Cougar Lane), Kearns, Utah; (801) 968-6825; www.olyparks.com.
2. Tube Town & Planet Kids at Soda Springs
Grab the kids for a snow-tubing adventure made even easier by a people-mover-style lift that carries rider and tube up the hill with minimal effort for a devil-may-care, bounce-filled plunge to the bottom. Soda Springs Winter Resort caters to kids, but offers lessons for adults as well. Near Truckee; (530) 426-3901; www.skisodasprings.com.
3. Snowshoeing the West
Combine exercise, exhilaration and jaw-dropping mountain views. If you’ve got your own “shoes,” pick from the best trails at www.trails.com (click “Snowshoeing” under “Outdoor activity”). If you need gear or a little tutoring, Solitude Mountain Resort’s Nordic Center in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah has both, as well as 6 miles of trails. 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon, Solitude, Utah; (801) 534-1400; www.skisolitude. com.
4. Cross-Country Skiing at Royal Gorge
The health benefits of cross country are well known, as is the reputation of Royal Gorge resort as one of the best cros-country ski resorts in the country. Try your hand (and legs) at it, and bring a journal to record your thoughts at the end of a day of traversing the stark, beautiful landscapes of the Sierra in winter. Soda Springs (Interstate 80, Exit 174); (800) 666-3871; www.royalgorge.com.
5. Dog Sledding at Lake Tahoe
The Iditarod it’s not. Straining huskies respond to a musher (she barks orders and they bark back) as the crisp cold grabs your breath. A brooding firebrick sunset blankets the green-black pines, but you’re warm and happy at the snow passes below. Wilderness Adventures Dog Sled Tours at Lake Tahoe; (530) 550-8133; www.tahoedogsledtours.com.
This article appeared on page M – 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle