When the temperature drops and the snow flies, it’s human nature to cozy up indoors with a fire, good book or favorite binge-worthy show. But the world outside is calling us to explore, and you don’t need to wait for the thaw to head out.
Welcome winter outdoors and cure cabin fever with these fun pursuits.
PITCH A TENT
Dozens of state parks, forests and recreation areas around the state offer hundreds of places to set up camp in the off-season, with plowed sites and unplowed walk-in spots. Some have electrical hookups and water available, while others require a bit more roughing it. Reservations are not required for most of these campsites in winter. Check out the DNR’s winter camping page to start planning your adventure, dnr.wi.gov/ topic/parks/camping/winter.
CATCH A FISH
Fans of fishing need not slow down when the water’s surface freezes over. Bundle up and head out on the ice for plenty of angling fun. The DNR does not monitor ice conditions or thickness, so be smart and safe. An angling license is required in winter (buy at gowild.wi.gov) except during Free Fishing Weekend, Jan. 15-16. Season dates and bag limits apply. To learn more, including ice fishing tips and techniques, see dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/icefishing, and flip to our Gear Up feature in this issue for a list of ice fishing essentials.
VISIT A WATERFALL
Waterfalls are scenic any time of year, but they’re often more spectacular when frozen. Plus, with generally smaller crowds in winter, you’ll have a great view. Copper Falls, Pattison, Amnicon Falls, Willow River and Governor Dodge are state parks with some of the most picturesque waterfalls, dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks. The Department of Tourism has resources on additional waterfalls, including in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, county parks and around Marinette County, the “Waterfalls Capital of Wisconsin.” Visit travelwisconsin.com for more information.
TAKE A HIKE
Whether it’s just around the block or a longer trek through snow-covered woods, getting out for a refreshing hike can be just the thing to soothe your body and mind on a cold winter’s day. Add snowshoes for a different feel to the outing — several state parks and other state properties offer rentals, dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/ rentals.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Winter is a great time to learn how to help various plants and animals through the state’s many citizen science projects, which often have off-season training sessions to prepare volunteers for spring. There are also opportunities to get involved and help keep lakes and streams healthy through monitoring. To learn more about the numerous DNR and partner projects and the Citizen-Based Monitoring Network, go to dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/citizenmonitoring. For a family-friendly winter monitoring activity, take part in Audubon’s 122nd annual Christmas Bird Count, Dec. 14 to Jan. 5; visit audubon.org for details.