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Fun Things to Do at Ski Resorts (Besides Skiing or Boarding)

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Of course, snow vacations make ideal getaways when all family members love to hop on skis on boards and shred or schuss down the slopes. But what if some in the party don't do either sport?

Fortunately, there are several ways to still have fun as a group out on the mountain. Each year, ski resorts are adding more activities including some challenging and novel ones such as ice-climbing.

1. Ski Biking

Snow bikes, photo courtesy of Vail Resorts.
Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts.
It's fun to try something new on a getaway, especially with older kids and teens who perhaps are no longer thrilled simply to be on a vacation with Mom and Dad. Ski bikes (sometimes called "snowbikes") are a cool -- and easy!-- new way to enjoy the slopes at several ski resorts, including Keystone and Vail in Colorado.

Yes, "easy"... Stability and control are easier than skiing. As the photo shows, a rider's boots are attached to two short skis, side by side, that control speed; Meanwhile the bike also has a front and rear ski, and steering is mainly accomplished by shifting weight.

The whole family could take a try at ski biking, or alternatively a family member who doesn't ski or board could take a lesson or two, and then join up with the rest of the family; ski bikers ride up the same lifts as everyone else.

2. Snowshoeing

Photo credit: Arnold Media / Getty Images.
Photo credit: Arnold Media / Getty Images.
"If you can walk, you can snowshoe" -- so says About.com's Guide for Walking, who covers the basics about this easy snow sport at the link above.

3. Tubing

Coca-Cola Tube Park. Photo credit: Brooke McDonald, courtesy of Whistler-Blackcomb.
Coca-Cola Tube Park. Photo credit: Brooke McDonald, courtesy of Whistler-Blackcomb.
Many ski resorts offer this fun activity both during the day-time and at night. No skills required! Just hop on an inflatable rubber tube or raft of some sort and enjoy the ride down. Typically you can pick from several runs that vary in speed and thrills. The tube will be automatically returned up the hill, and usually there's some kind of conveyor lift for guests as well -- maybe even an enclosed and sheltered magic carpet ride.

4. Alpine Coasters

Alpine coaster.  Photo courtesy of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Photo courtesy of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Even young kids can ride the alpine coasters that are now offered at a number of ski resorts, and meanwhile teens will also enjoy the novelty of these coasters and have fun trying to go at top speed. Riders control the speed of the sled-like cars, and two passengers -- such as a small child and parent-- can ride at once if they wish.

5. Snow Cat Tours

Photo ©  Teresa Plowright.
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
Above is a photo from the "Mountain-Top Cat Tour" at Keystone, Colorado: an excellent way for visitors who don't ski or board to get onto the mountain and enjoy amazing scenery. In fact, this particular tour went higher above the treeline than any of the ski lifts. Many ski resorts offer "Cat" (for "Caterpillar", the type of rugged machine pictured above) excursions.

6. Ice Climbing

Photo © Jim Ongena, courtesy of Big White Ski Resort.
Photo © Jim Ongena, courtesy of Big White Ski Resort.
Here's an example of something novel to try: Big White -- in the Okanagan area of B.C., which offers "champagne powder" snow -- has a 60' Ice Climbing Tower. Daunting as this looks in the photo above, the tower does welcome beginners at one of its four sides, even kids as young as five can try.

7. Dog Sledding

Dog sledding in Colorado. Photo ©  Teresa Plowright.
Dog sledding in Colorado. Photo © Teresa Plowright.
Many ski resorts offer the opportunity to try a dog-sledding excursion. Take some time to choose the right outing: with some companies, for instance, groups of three people each have their own sled and dog team; at other places, a single team pulls a much larger sled and meanwhile pairs of people take turns on a two-person sled. Typically, one way or another all riders (over a certain minimum age) get a chance to control the sled.

Above all, be SURE to select a dog-sledding company that treats its animals well! Read more at the link above.

The sledding is exciting, but just as memorable is the chance to get close to these amazing animals who literally cannot contain their enthusiasm to just get going and run. When it's your turn to mush (i.e. to control the sled), the main job is to put a brake on the dogs!

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