Best of: Outdoor ladies trips for winter adventure in 2018

After the holidays, does anything sound better than a little R&R (or H&H, happiness and hiking) with your tribe? We’ve scoured the 5 best spots in the U.S. for you and your gal pals to check out this winter.

Sante Fe, New Mexico

Photo by M. Bucka

Do you know the way to Sante Fe? In the winter months, there’s a chance the road there will be snowy, but once there, the city will look like a scene from a snow globe; filled with stringed lights over cozy adobe brick buildings and mountains in the distance brimming with winter adventure. 

Santa Fe is an art and nature lovers haven. With a warm cup of java in hand, head down Canyon Road. It’s is a half-mile walk filled with mountain views and warm art galleries to pop in and out of. From the typically beautiful to the unique and quirky, this road has it all. Once you and yours have had some snow-filled laughs outdoors, sink into a pueblo mud bath. The mud is said to relax and release toxins from the skin. Sante Fe is known for it’s tasty food and quaint pueblo pubs with wood-burning adobe fireplaces. Look for traditional New Mexican cuisine and try a stuffed sopapilla.

Renting a car is a good option to get to many of the nearby (and not so nearby) trails and other attractions. Try Atalaya Mountain Trail for a challenge. It’s a 6 mile out and back trail with a little less than 2,000 feet of elevation

Tent Rock, Santa Fe, Hiking, Women Outdoors
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM

gain. It’s just 4 miles east of the city. An easier hike, the Tsankawi Ruins trail, is just a 1.7 mile loop, 35 miles from Sante Fe. If you’re up for a drive, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is an hour drive from Sante Fe. On the Tent Rocks Trail, see Christmas tree shaped rocks shooting from the earth – it’s truly a sight to behold. Feel free to blaze your own trail – there are plenty of options. Off the dirt path, but still adventurous, you can ski in the surrounding mountains.

Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Forest Service, Ice Fishing

Missoula is the perfect winter getaway for gals who are looking to be adventurous. In big sky country, the sky really is the limit. Just make sure you bring your scarf and mittens to this mountain town.

Try your hand at ice fishing, test your balance while dog sledding and even put your quads to the test cross country skiing. All that activity is sure to make some excellent lifelong memories, but also short term muscle soreness. For that, snowshoe a 2.6 mile out and back trail to the all natural Jerry Johnson Hot Springs and soak in hot water. Technically these springs are in Idaho, an

Photo by djemba

hour and 30 minute drive from Missoula. Make sure to prepare for the trek back.  Bring a towel, hat, extra socks and everything else you might need to stay warm after being wet. To avoid the hike, but not the soak, there are also manmade hot springs. Lolo hot springs are a 45 minute drive from Missoula and you can leave your snowshoes in the car, as you walk right up and jump in the 104 degree, naturally fed pool.

For time off the trail, there are local distilleries, wineries and breweries to sip in the winter weather. Grab your girls and head to art galleries or check out the Missoula Art Museum. For a spook, make your way to a snowy ghost town. The Garnet Ghost Town is an hour drive from Missoula. Once there you can choose to hike again or just wander around. Read up on the history first.

Gatlinburg, TENNESSEE

hoar frost, appalachian trail, gatlinburg
Photo by David Lambert

Surrounded by the wintery blue haze that sets in on the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is filled with breathtaking hikes and cozy cabin fires, where you can sip honest to goodness Tennessee moonshine under the stars. It’s a mysterious little town that sits in the foothills alongside one of America’s most famous trails.

The Appalachian Trail is the most famous dirt path near Gatlinburg, but it’s one of hundreds you can choose to adventure on. Take an easy 2.4 jaunt in the woods on the Laurel Falls Trail to, you guessed it, Laurel  Falls. It’s about 400 feet of elevation gain and sits about 22 miles southwest of the city. For some epic views of the Smokys, try Andrew’s Bald Trail. It’s an hour outside of Gatlinburg. The 3.5 mile trail has the option to add a few extra miles once on the path, and the views are sure to impress. A difficult hike, the Rainbow Falls Trail is 5.5 miles with 1,600 plus feet of elevation gain. Bundle up, bring a

Photo by Bryant Thomas

blanket and try your hand at horseback riding on one of the plentiful routes. A relaxed walk in the trees is another option at the Anakeesta tree canopy. You might be lucky enough to spot a bear from above or catch a glimpse of white tail deer. For extra kicks, click into some skis and head to Ober Gatlinburg.

There are just as many options out of the mountains as in them. Make sure you get some Tennessee BBQ. After (if you’re of age), head to one of the many breweries and distilleries and try a little moonshine. This mountain town is full of mystery, from Appalachian Ghost walks to the Mysterious Mansion of Gatlinburg. You might be graced with the presence of loggers, soldiers or pioneers past. Strangely enough, the Guinness World of Records Museum is located in this sleepy city, check it out for what’s sure to provide conversation starters for the entire trip. For a more festive feel head to Pigeon Forge and take in hundreds of twinkling lights at the WinterFest Driving Tour of Lights. Take some hot cocoa and treats for the ride and show.

Grayton Beach/ South Walton, Florida

grayton beach, vacation, kayak

A funky beach town filled with sunshine, sand and salty air. Home to beautiful white sand beaches and pine forest trails. A place where you can kayak the crystal water and wildlife watch on sea or land.

It’s not your typical winter wonderland, but it’s a blissful vacation for women looking to get away from Old Man Winter and be kissed by the sun. Grayton Beach is the perfect place to put on your flip flops and jump into a kayak or atop a stand up paddle board. Western Lake is a 100 acre coastal dune lake.

grayton beach, sunset
Photo by Michael Lindsey

It’s actually one of 15 similar bodies of water nearby. They are mostly made up of fresh water despite, sitting just feet from the coastline. You can rent a canoe or kayak from the ranger station at Grayton Beach State Park. Out of the water and on the trail, check out the Flatwoods Trail. It’s a 4.5 mile flat trail with a small loop at the end. It winds through pine trees, by a pond, and over sandy paths. There are two other trails to choose from in the State park. Once finished, head to the beach, and soak in the sun and play in the waves.

To get out of the sun, head to South Walton. The shard shop is a place to make memories while making glass projects with your ladies. There are more than 20 art galleries and shops to hit the streets for a tour de art. Make sure you stop along the way and eat from fresh fish food trucks and restaurants. Don’t forget to walk out on the beach and look up at the stars.

Burlington, Vermont

A snowy oasis where the sweet smell of maple sugar fills the air: take a step back in time and wander into antique shops and under covered bridges. The clop and jingle of horse drawn carriages echo down streets. Winter sports abound in this great Northern escape.

Jump on the trail as soon as you get there, but make sure to bundle up. The optical-illusion, Colchester Causeway Trail, looks as if it disappears into the sea. In reality, it’s a flat 11 mile out and back trail over Lake Champlain. Try it at sunrise for epic views of wild colors splashed atop the the water. Hop in the car and drive an hour and a half from the city to the take in the wild beauty of Ausable Chasm, known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks, technically in New York. Ausable Chasm trail is a 2 mile hike that will take you to the frozen Rainbow Falls. While on the trails look for wildlife, like Moose! Other outdoor activities like downhill and crosscountry skiing will get your adrenaline pumping. There’s always the chance to bundle up and lace up your ice skates.

After a sunrise hike or trip down a mountain, try out Sangha Studio for a bit of Yoga. It’s a donation based yoga studio with a goal Evergreen girls can get behind: inclusion. Try a class with teacher, Sarah Diedrick – we can personally vouch for her. Also in town, take a sleigh ride with jingle bells included. Suck in the sweet air at the maple sugar house. Try some maple delicacies like maple lattes, maple salsa, maple donuts and more! Can’t get enough of that syrupy goodness? No worries. Buy a maple candle to keep the good smells rolling once you’re home. Burlington is also known for its antiques. Take your maple latte and hit up the dozens of antique stores to channel your inner Chip and Joanna Gaines.