Adventures to Add to Your Snowshoe Bucket List

Every year, as the weather gets cooler, the anticipation for the upcoming snowshoe season starts to grow. Many of us dream of the first flakes of snow gently cascading toward the ground, the crisp awakening air, the quiet after a fresh storm.

Once enough snow has fallen, we gear up and get to exploring! But now, with travel in full swing, there are even more snowshoeing opportunities around the globe that we can add to our bucket list. I know I dream of a trip where I can follow winter and snowshoe around the world!

So, without further ado, here are a few snowshoe adventures to add to your bucket list this snowshoe season.

trees in snowy mountains below cloudy sky

Rocky Mountain National Park is a common bucket list item, but it is only one snowshoeing adventure! Photo: Susan Wowk

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1. Snowshoe Beneath the Northern Lights

Whether you live in an area that receives this magical spectacle or not, snowshoeing beneath the Aurora Borealis would be a truly unforgettable experience!

There is no guarantee that you’ll see the lights on your outing (believe me, I’ve tried). However, snowshoeing at night and attempting to see them is worth it!

Some ideal settings to see those lights dancing in the night sky are:

Churchill, Manitoba
Fairbanks, Alaska
Saariselkä, Finland
Tromsø, Norway
Newfoundland

Read More: How To Navigate by Using the Stars

northern lights in Fairbanks Alaska

How incredible would it be to snowshoe under these stunning Northern Lights in Fairbanks, AK? Photo: Sherman Hogue

2. Snowshoe to See Wildlife

One reason winter hiking rocks is that the snow tells a story of wildlife that dry ground does not. You can identify tracks in the snow and map out the array of activities going on in the winter. A scuffle here, a crossing there – you can envision it even when the world around you is peaceful.

I had never seen so many animal tracks as when we stayed at Wild Skies Cabin in northwestern Colorado. We didn’t see another person on the trip, but we saw more tracks than we could count!

In addition to Colorado, find wildlife in:

Jackson Hole
Interlake Region in Manitoba
Japan

Read More: Footprints in the Field: The Art of Deciphering Nature’s Clues

monkey sign in snowy landscape in Japan

Can monkeys and snow go together? Yes, they can! Photo: Greg Goodmacher

3. Snowshoe to a Backcountry Hut

A multi-day snowshoe trip in a backcountry cabin is an excellent way to up your snowshoe game. You can snowshoe to your hut for one night or make it a multiple-night hut-to-hut trip.

If embarking on a hut trip, make sure you’re prepared. Hut reservations are typically booked in advance; some can fill up quickly. Furthermore, some huts will be fully equipped, and others will not. If not provided, you will need to bring in your supplies, including kitchen items and bedding.

Also, the length of the route and terrain can vary widely. For example, some treks may be only a mile on relatively stable terrain, while others may be full-day excursions or in avalanche terrain. In any case, bringing the essentials and ensuring you’re physically prepared is critical.

Some hut systems to add to your bucket are:

Mount Rainier, Washington
Yosemite National Park
White Mountains, New Hampshire
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
The Canadian Rockies

Read More: Hut-to-Hut USA: Book Outlines Huts in the United States

snowshoe bucket list: snow covered hut with trees in background in White Mountains

Snow-covered Lonesome Lake Hut in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Photo: Dennis Walsh, Courtesy of AMC

4. Snowshoe to a Frozen Lake or Waterfall

Seeing a waterfall that is completely frozen over is a magical experience and a great addition to your snowshoe bucket list. It’s incredible how much the landscape changes between the seasons, and the details in the water become even more apparent in the winter. Even if not completely frozen, a stillness comes to water in the winter that can be mesmerizing.

Remember that if the trail to your chosen body of water is ice, you can exchange your snowshoes for ice spikes/traction devices.  Ice spikes will provide stability so you don’t slip on your hike. I like the Yaktrax Summit, but Kahtoola Microspikes also work well.  Plus, since the spikes are built for ice, you don’t have to worry about the wear and tear you would get using snowshoes.

Some wanderlust options for frozen snowshoe treks are:

Banff National Park
Lanaudiere Region in Quebec
Urabandai in Japan
Donut Falls in Utah.

Read More: How to Choose Your Trail: Tips for Learning When You Need Snowshoes

frozen waterfalls with people in background - Banff

Frozen water (pictured in Banff) can be mesmerizing and a perfect addition to your bucket list. Photo: Tanya Koob

5. Snowshoe a Portion of a Thru-Hike

Completing a thru-hike or long-distance trail is a serious and incredible undertaking! But for those not quite up to the task (myself included), you can snowshoe a portion of the trail to get a taste of the experience.

Some thru-segments to check out include:

Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin
Pacific Crest Trail in the Cascade Mountains or near North Lake Tahoe
Appalachian Trail

If you choose, you can even combine this bucket list item with a hut experience!

snowshoe bucket list Ice Age Trail: man with snowshoes near trail sign

Try snowshoeing on a scenic segment of the IAT. Photo: Jim Joque

6. Snowshoe in a Local Natural Area

Bucket lists can often be consumed with far-off destinations (I am guilty of this myself). But you can also find beauty and new experiences in our backyard.

This winter, choose a natural area, park, or golf course in your town and explore! There have been so many occasions where I’ve been surprised at the beauty just outside my door. Often, you may not even realize it until you strap on your snowshoes after a recent storm and go for a spin.

Read More: Snowshoeing In Your Own Backyard: Options Close to Home

man in distance snowshoeing on golf course

Snowshoeing on the snowy golf course can offer an entirely new perspective. Photo: Susan Wowk

7. Snowshoe in the Southern Hemisphere

There is no need to worry for those who are not summer individuals (I group myself in that category). You can follow winter around the globe and have snowshoe adventures all year!

Add a snowshoe adventure in the southern hemisphere to your bucket list this year. New Zealand, Australia, and Chile are a few destinations that can offer a whole new perspective to snowshoeing.

snow covered mountains and open sky in New Zealand

The environs of the Snow Farm near Mt Pisa in New Zealand – look at that view! Photo: Jan Bailey

8. Snowshoe with Volcanic Rocks

Volcanic rocks and snow? It may sound like those two things don’t go together, but it’s possible!

Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice for a reason: it is full of glaciers and volcanoes. Remnants of volcanos and volcanic rock, along with snow, can also be found in the states, including:

Flagstaff, AZ
Mount St. Helen’s
Idaho Panhandle

Plus, with volcanic activity often comes the option to apres in natural hot springs (just like this incredible adventure in Japan)!

volcanic rocks covered in snow - Flagstaff AZ

The combination of former fire and ice – volcanic rocks covered in snow. Photo: James Murren

9. Snowshoe Off the Beaten Path

We hear about great outdoor areas all the time – Banff, Yellowstone, Acadia, and Rocky Mountain National Park, to name a few. These areas are truly gorgeous, but they also can be pretty crowded.

To escape the crowds, try snowshoeing somewhere you haven’t heard of before or given a second thought. These areas can be just as, if not more, beautiful, untapped wilderness.

Some off-the-beaten-path destinations to explore are:

Red River, New Mexico
Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Cabinet Mountains, Montana
Yukon, Canada
Northern Maine

snowshoe bucket list: people snowshoeing on Bonneville Ridge with view of lake

Bonneville Ridge in the Yukon is a great bucket list item that will get your heart pumping with a gorgeous view of the lake. Photo Credit Lumin Pictures

10. Snowshoe in New Geography

One of the fascinating things about snow is that it changes depending on geography. Depending on the climate, you may encounter dry, fluffy powder or wet, dense snow. These varieties of snow can produce a completely different snowshoe experience.

Moreover, each mountain range is unique and thus will offer new landmarks, sights, and experiences. The same can be true for flat or moderate geographies. So this year, if you’re usually drawn to the mountains, head for the plains. Or, try snowshoeing in a new mountain range and climate!

Read More: Shoein’ in the Midwest (A Little Different Than East or West)

Mt Scott above Crater Lake in winter

Try new geography at Crater Lake in Oregon. Photo: Damian Fagan

Bonus: Swap the Snow for Sand

As an alternative to snow, try your snowshoes on the sand! Yes, snowshoes can provide stability on the sand, just like they do on snow. To limit the wear and tear on your snowshoes from this new medium, we recommend Crescent Moon’s Eva Foam Snowshoe for this endeavor.

sandshoeing in White Sands National Park

This landscape may look like snow, but it’s sand in White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Photo: Darrel Heller

This article was first published on October 28, 2021, and was most recently updated on November 10, 2023. 

Read Next: Five Things To Do With Snowshoes That Aren’t Exactly Snowshoeing

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2 Comments

  • This is a very nice roundup of activities to look forward to. I would add one more, which is to end a great snowshoe trek with a soak in an outdoor hot spring while surrounded by snow. If you would like a few images, I would gladly give you a couple for your magazine to use.

    • Thanks, Greg! Snowshoeing near an outdoor hot spring is another great bucket list item, and one to definitely add to the list. Thank you for the offer for photos, too. I think my bucket list just continues to get longer each year. 🙂 – Susan

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