More than 20 inches of big, soft snow has fallen so far this month in the Twin Cities area. Instead of dull, dormant grass, the landscape now sparkles in white. It looks pretty — and inspirational. Meanwhile, Maui has been hit with snowstorms of its own (at least on the high peaks).
All signs point to a Minnesota vacation. Here are a few suggestions for delving into winter fun now that the snow has arrived in heaps.
Ice climbing — like rock climbing with crampons and ice picks — grows more popular each year. In Sandstone, Robinson Park offers a long wall of vertical freeze. Winona pours water down its tall bluffs to create the Winona Ice Climbing Park. And all those North Shore waterfalls? Some people see them and think, yeah, I want to climb that.
Snowkiting is taking off, too, especially on big lakes such as Mille Lacs, where winds grow strong over the vast stretch of ice. Strap your feet to a snowboard and harness your body to a billowing kite and away you go.
Love careening across a frozen lake or wintry forest on skis? Love your dog? Skijoring brings them together. You don skis and strap yourself to a dog. The dog pulls you along, proving once again that the creature is, as the saying goes, man's (or woman's) best friend. Find designated trails at Sugarbush Ski Trails and Lutsen Mountains Ski Area, both on the North Shore. But note: Skijoring is not allowed on state trails groomed for cross-country skiing.
Whole teams of dogs pull you during a mushing or dogsledding outing, during which you can watch the world zip by while sitting in a sled or help drive the dogs as musher. Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, in Ely, offers multiday trips. Lots of other places, from the Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais to Cragun's in East Gull Lake, offer opportunities to try this growing activity. Just don't expect to find it atop Maui's Haleakala, despite the snow.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at email@example.com, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.