News & Politics

Best of 2005: Offbeat Winter Fun

There's more to cold-weather sports than skiing and skating. Winter can be romantic, exciting, or just plain wacky when you try one of these adventures

Sleigh-riding: A horse-drawn sleigh glides over snow. Steam rises from the horse as bells jingle. Huddled under a blanket, you gaze onto white fields against mountains. It's like being in a fairy tale. One-hour rides in Maryland's Pleasant Valley ( are $12, and rides at Pennsylvania's Hidden Valley Resort ( cost $10. A half-hour ride at West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain ( is $25.

Snowshoeing: Follow the Cheat Mountain Ridge Trail through the forest on snowshoes–or cross-country skis–to Snowshoe's Sunrise Backcountry Hut. Warm cider and a gourmet meal await after the two-hour trek. The hut sleeps eight in a loft and private bedrooms. Snowshoe rentals and trail pass $27 a person; dinner $95 a person; cabin for eight people $1,400 a night.

Curling: Think bowling meets shuffleboard on ice, throw in a couple of brooms, and you have curling. The objective is to slide an approximately 40-pound granite rock about 40 yards on ice to a target while sweepers rush ahead to control the rock's speed. This Olympic sport is more challenging–and fun–than it may look. Try it at open houses sponsored by the Potomac Curling Club ( and the Chesapeake Curling Club (

Dogsledding: Enjoy the thrill of the Iditarod without a trip to Alaska. There are two dogsledding companies in western Maryland–Yellow Snow Dog Sled Adventures ( and Husky Power Dogsledding ( Both offer rides and half-day "learn to be a musher" programs. A ten-minute ride costs about $10, musher programs $150 to $175.

Snowmobiling: The trick is to lean into the turn. Then hang on and have fun on a guided snowmobile tour at the Homestead in Virginia (, Maryland's Wisp Resort (, Pennsylvania's Seven Springs Mountain Resort (, or Snowshoe. (For even more thrills, try Snowshoe's night tour.) Rates vary but are usually $40 to $60 per rider for hourlong tours.

Washingtonian staffers contributing to this section were Cristina Abello, Susan Baer, Susan Davidson, Ken DeCell, Rebecca Dreilinger, Kim Isaac Eisler, Mary Clare Fleury, Kimberly Forrest, Brooke Lea Foster, Garrett M. Graff, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, Aparna Nancherla, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Chris Wilson. Also contributing were Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Matthew Graham.