Just Tell jack Frost to Back-Off!
This may be a Canadian thing, but it's true: we take pride looking our long winter straight in the eye and refusing to let it dampen our enjoyment of the great outdoors! Think about it: when five to six months out of every year have an average temperature below freezing, a person would go stir crazy if they tried to stay indoors and wait it out. So in Canada, we have the opposite take on it, and when winter arrives, we get outside and have fun.
If you're a visitor, or you're someone considering a visit in the winter months, this article will key you in on some of the fun things you can do during the winter months in Sunset Country. Who knows, you just may have so much fun that you'll make another trip back next winter. To give you an idea of exactly what you can do, we've developed this top five list of things to do during the winter!
#1 - Go Ice Fishing
Most people come here to fish in the spring, summer, and fall, but winter opens up a wide range of angling activities (and lakes) that are not available to most anglers during the open water season—unless you happen to own a floatplane. Once the ice freezes solid, you can get out and go ice fishing on lakes that are inaccessible in summer, and you can fish virtually any spot on the lakes you already know.
Being well-prepared is all you need to remember to enjoy a fun day on the ice fishing with your friends or family. So here are few tips on that:
- Keeping your hands, feet, and head warm is the most important; a snowmobile suit with matching boots is the best choice to stay warm.
- Always let a person not accompanying you know where you'll be fishing and what time to expect you back. Ask them to call you to ensure everyone made it home safe and sound.
- Bring some food so you can snack on the ice, as well as a couple of thermoses of hot liquid—your choice of beverage.
- Know the ice conditions before you venture out on the ice.
- Investing in a good ice auger can save a lot of effort and a tent can keep you warm on the coldest days—there are guides and lodges offering ice fishing packages so consider that if you're a novice.
# 2 - Snowmobiling
With an extensive system of groomed and marked snowmobile trails, Ontario is one of the best places on the planet to enjoy snowmobiling. In northern Ontario, we pretty much have guaranteed snow for at least three months every year, so the conditions are usually awesome. Make sure you buy a trail permit, which supports the cost of grooming and maintaining the trails. Here is a link to the Trail Association's website.
# 3- Skiing
While there are no mountain ranges in Sunset Country, with the Canadian Shield we have some decent smaller ski hills that downhill skiers, snowboarders, or other gravity goons like tubers can enjoy. There are ski hills in Atikokan, Kenora, Dryden, and Thunder Bay. For cross-country skiers, the opportunities to enjoy the Boreal forest are endless, as most summer hiking trails are cross-country ski trails during the winter months.
# 4 - Dog Sledding
Not available in all locations but probably one of the most unique winter activities you can enjoy in the winter is a dog sledding tour. You can purchase packages from experienced tour operators who will take you out on the ice behind a pack of sled dogs. The sound of the dogs and the sled gliding over the snow is truly something else. Enjoy backcountry vistas, lunch out on the ice, and become a resident musher for the day!
# 5 - StarGazing & the Aurora Borealis
Between December and March, it is cold in these parts because of the cloudless high-pressure weather systems that get stuck over the center of North America. These systems can stay in place for several weeks at a time. While it's cold outside, the conditions for gazing at the stars or, if you're fortunate, the Aurora Borealis, are definitely the best at this time of year because the skies are usually crystal clear and we have no light pollution. You'll need to drink some coffee, as stargazing and viewing the Northern Lights are late-night activities, but if you've never experienced this spectacle, you will be awestruck by the clear conditions, the stars, and the deep green, purple, and even blue lights in the sky if the Aurora Borealis is active.