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Winter Activities

Snowshoeing in Yellowstone Cures Cabin Fever

If you like hiking, you'll like snowshoeing.

If you’re looking for an easy, affordable way to beat the winter blues, then you must try snowshoeing in Yellowstone National Park. It’s a fantastic way to explore the Yellowstone backcountry, and just about anyone can do it.

Although cross-country skiing has been and will continue to be a popular way to explore the backcountry, snowshoeing is probably the most practical method of doing so. Snowshoes are more effective than cross-country skis when it comes to exploring areas with dense brush and uneven terrain.

Let me warn you, many of your hard-core skiing friends may try to talk you out of snowshoeing. They might say, “Boring!”

But, I object! If you like the backcountry, you’ll like snowshoeing.

Boring is sitting inside watching television during winter. The truth is, snowshoeing is like hiking in Yellowstone, only in the wintertime.

Anyone who can walk, can snowshoe. Since you’ll have wide and long “shoes” on, you’ll walk with a bit of a wider gait while you contend with snow that is sometimes very deep. But it’s basically hiking in the snow. Try to walk naturally and lift your knees a little higher than you do when you’re just walking on pavement.

With virtually no risk for injury, snowshoeing provides a great low-impact workout. In addition, snowshoeing provides backcountry enthusiasts with cheap access to remote backcountry locations. Snowboarders often snowshoe their way up large hills before stepping into their boards and then making first tracks down the slope. I’ve even seen families snowshoeing up large hills before descending them on plastic sleds. It’s the best of both worlds: exercise and fun.

Snowshoers do not discriminate when it comes to snow conditions. Any decent snow cover will do.

You can wear some of the older version of snowshoes that are wooden and quite large, or you can opt to wear some of the newer, lightweight aluminum showshoes.

While snowshoes help you float higher on the snow by distributing your weight over a larger surface area, you will still sink several inches in fresh snow. But with good showshoes in waist-deep white stuff, you’ll sink six to 12 inches.

Snowshoeing builds up endurance levels and strengthens quadriceps, hip flexors and extensors – read: your butt and hips.

I also cross-country ski, hike, bike and run mountain trails. Snowshoeing in deep snow up a small mountain offers the best bang for your buck if you’re looking for a killer workout.

Snowshoeing uphill in deep snow easily burns 1,000 calories an hour. Add some poles and you burn even more.

Although snowshoeing is walking in the snow, it uses an estimated 45% more energy than walking. On a packed trail, you can expect to burn up to 650 calories per hour, depending on your pace.

So pass me another piece of fudge, eh? You’re dang right!

That’s a lot of bang for your buck – and all while enjoying the backcountry in winter.

While snowshoeing, you’ll sweat. Carry water and snacks. And don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, extra layers of clothing and a first aid kit.

Happy shoeing!

Winter Trip Planner cover

Start planning a winter vacation by downloading the Winter Trip Planner for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park today.