Taking the Kids: Get away from the crowds to play in the snow
-- Borrow all the gear, including jackets and snow pants, you'll need at one of the New England Appalachian Mountain Club lodges and then head out on guided adventures in the snow. Sign on for a special family weekend.
-- www.glamping.com is a good place to search for off-the-beaten-track winter options, whether budget or splurge -- among them Whitepod, domes with wood-burning stoves in the Swiss Alps (from $452 a night) to ICEHOTEL, the largest hotel built out of ice in northern Sweden (from $217 a night) to historic prospector tent cabins in Alaska hosted by a sled dog musher and her dogs at Bouchards Mountain View and Slow Rush Kennels (from $70 a night).
-- Explore Yellowstone as we did one winterin Montana on snowshoes, getting up close to Old Faithful and even a bison or two. Usually by mid-December, roads are open only to "over snow" travel via guided snowmobile or snowcoach, or through the non-commercially guided snowmobile access program.
-- Adventures by Disney offers a five-day Winter in Wyoming deluxe experience, complete with dog sledding, soaking in natural hot springs and exploring Yellowstone.
During our Vista Verde visit, we headed out into the snow. Normally, some of us would have packed it in on such a low-visibility day, but we didn't want to miss a minute of outdoor fun. We then hopped in a ranch vehicle and drove a few miles where we snowshoed through the trees along the Elk River. Luckily, our guide clearly knew his way -- there are no marked trails.
One of us fell in a deep hole in the snow, but we all laughed. Rather than being concerned about the snow, and what it would do to our schedules, we reveled in it, making our own trails in the woods.
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After a couple of hours, we returned to the ranch in time for lunch -- three varieties of chili -- spicy beef, vegetarian and my favorite, green chicken chili with all the fixings -- onions, cheese, sour cream and even cornbread croutons. There was a salad bar, too, and mini cream puffs for dessert. Yum!
We relaxed for an hour before we headed out for the afternoon -- one of us to yoga, three for a trail ride in the snow and my husband and me to Nordic ski in hopes of seeing a moose.
It was snowing again -- harder than the morning, in fact, but that just seemed to make it more of an adventure. The moose eluded us--maybe next time.